5 Things You Should Do Before Buying a New Car

This post originally appeared on simplewheels.co

Buying a new car isn’t an easy thing to do, especially if it’s something you’ve never done before. Unscrupulous dealers have decades of experience in squeezing every last penny out of buyers. In this post, I’ll outline 5 critical things you should do before buying a new car.

1. Build Your Own Car Online

Before you even set foot in a dealer lot, you should head over to the manufacturers website and use the “build & price” tool to customize your perfect car from scratch. This will give you a better idea of what features and colors are available in the car of your choice. Additionally, you’ll know how much those features cost ahead of time, so you won’t get suckered into a higher-priced option at the dealer lot that has features you don’t need or want. Here are some “build & price” sample links:

Ford Expedition

Mercedes C300

Honda Civic

Remember, if you head to the manufacturer’s website, you can find the “build & price” tool for every make and model on the market.

2. Research Local Inventory

Once you have a good idea of the type of car you’re looking for and the options / colors you’d like, head over to Autotrader to see what inventory dealers have around you. Autotrader consolidates availability across dealer lots so that you can view all the cars around you from the comfort of your couch. Simply enter the make & model you’re looking for, along with your zip code, and Autotrader will do the rest.

Find the perfect car near you

From there, you’ll be able to narrow down your search using a variety of other filters, such as distance, year, price, and color.

Use filters to find the car that fits your needs

Start by filtering by the features & characteristics that matter most to you. Typically, these include year, transmission, and color. Soon enough, you’ll be left with a few options that meet all of your criteria.

Pro Tip: Can’t find the perfect car near you? Expand your search radius — most dealers will deliver right to your door!

Be sure to save and/or bookmark the cars that meet your needs; hopefully, these should come from a few different dealerships in order to increase your leverage & negotiating power (more on this later).

3. Go for a Test Drive

Armed with knowledge about the car you like, head on into your closest dealership to test drive the car — be sure to call in advance to book an appointment in case it’s a busy day. The purpose of the test drive is to see how you feel in the car and get a better sense of how it drives. Don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson at the dealership questions about the car either, this is the time to get answers to the questions you have.

After your test drive, do not sit down with the salesperson to talk numbers and purchase price. Tell them you’re still early in your buying process and not ready to discuss a purchase. They will do everything they can to get you to buy a car on-the-spot, but do not give in. The deals and offers they may make to you are likely nowhere near what you could negotiate. Once you’ve determined that you like the car and still want to purchase it, the next step is to research how much of a discount you can get on it.

4. Research Pricing Trends

The MSRP of the car doesn’t necessarily represent what you should be paying for it. Research that shows what people are actually paying for certain cars is available online through TrueCar. What people actually pay is a factor of supply, demand, and timing. If a certain car is high in demand and short in supply, then getting a discount will likely be more difficult. However, if a specific model is in low demand and has high supply, chances are dealers will offer huge incentives to start moving it off their lots. TrueCar builds pricing curves to show what other people are paying around you.

TrueCar Pricing Curve
TrueCar Pricing Curve

Note that the “TruePrice Average” is not necessarily a great deal for your car either. In fact, TrueCar has partnered with dealers to sell you cars at that price. Not only do dealers make money in this scenario, but TrueCar receives a portion of the profits as well. What you should be looking at is the left side of the curve — the invoice price. This chart shows that a small percentage of buyers are able to buy this car at or below invoice. This should be your target price heading into negotiations.

5. Call Dealers and Start Negotiating

Remember those cars you saved in Step 2? Now it’s time to start calling up those dealerships. The strategy here is to first find out how low dealerships are willing to go, then pit them against each other in a bidding war. Remember to start negotiating below your target price (typically 5-10% lower), and let the dealer come closer to you on price. Don’t budge on your offer price until you feel as though the dealer has come as low as they possibly can. Then, take that number and try to get other dealers to beat it. When you’ve finally aligned on a price, make sure you get it in writing before heading into the dealership to finalize the paperwork, and be sure to watch out for last-minute add-ons, such as extended warranties and premium maintenance plans.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of the negotiation process and the best possible deal on your new car, check out our all-inclusive vehicle identification and negotiation service for just $95.

5 Résumé Tips for Job Seekers

If you have a rockstar background but struggle to get interviews at companies you apply to, you’re probably making common mistakes with your résumé.

This post originally was originally published by Pivt, an online resource to help with career changes.

I’ve screened thousands of résumés and been on multiple hiring panels, and I continue to see job applicants make the same mistakes. From poorly-written bullet points to bad formatting, a lackluster résumé can take away from a strong candidate. To help job seekers out there, I’ve decided to share my top résumé advice based on my experience.

No Fancy Fonts, Formatting, or Color

Unless you’re a designer, keep your résumé plain and simple. Any fancy fonts, color, or formatting will only distract from your words and make it seem as though your accomplishments can’t speak for themselves. Keep it simple, black and white, and easy to read. 

Use Bullet Points

Hiring managers will spend less than a minute scanning each résumé and long paragraphs are difficult to read and don’t get your point across well. Use short, succinct bullet points to describe your work and the impact you made.

Quantify Your Impact

Hiring managers care more about the impact you made, rather than the specific, tactical actions you took to get there. To the extent you can, quantify your impact with metrics. See the example below:

“Conducted research on competitors in order to help executive leadership make decisions”

This bullet point is too vague, and doesn’t quantify the impact of your work. Additionally, “conducted research” is a weak starter and doesn’t showcase your skills & abilities well.

“Improved market share by 15% in 6 months by conducting competitive research, recommending operational changes to executive leadership, and implementing those changes”

“Improved market share by 15%” is something that all companies like to hear, so showing you made this type of impact will impress recruiters and hiring managers. By starting with the impact first, you catch the reader’s attention. Then, you can follow on by describing how you created that impact.

Remove Your Summary and/or Objective

Very few hiring managers and recruiters will actually read this, and for those who do, it likely won’t make a positive impression. You’re better off without it.

Keep your Résumé to One Page

You don’t need more than one page to describe your relevant accomplishments. If you’re struggling to keep it down to one page, you should remove less relevant or old experience, be more succinct with your bullet points, and reduce page margins from 1” to .75”.

In addition to these 5 guidelines, it’s always great to get a 2nd opinion or review of your résumé. Whether it’s from a peer in your network who you respect, or from a professional résumé editor. Getting more eyes on your résumé will help improve its quality. After tweaking your résumé to abide by these tips and getting your résumé reviewed by others, you will improve your chances at landing more interviews in your job application process. 

Fiverr has several highly rated résumé experts — to get advice from the best, be sure to select a Pro Verified provider. 

Note: The team at Pivt recommends courses and services that we think will help you. Some services listed may be from our affiliate partners, and we may earn a percentage of any purchases made.

Staying Organized: Project Management for Consultants

Project management is a function that all consultants have to execute at least once in their careers. Enjoyable or not, project management is a crucial skills for consultants to learn & will prove valuable for years to come. Throughout my time in consulting, I’ve found that project management style can vary by person, so it’s important to find what project management style works for you. Regardless of management style, organization in project management is key. It’s difficult to manage stakeholders, timelines, and conflicting priorities without staying organized. When working on project management engagements, I learned a few habits that helped me, a naturally disorganized person, stay organized and help drive projects along smoothly.

A large piece of project management is aligning several stakeholders to a common goal. Often, these stakeholders have conflicting priorities, making the task at hand exponentially more difficult. Managing a project and stakeholders involves several meetings & conversations to align on key decision points. However, it’s easy for someone to forget decisions or change their mind down the line. Because of this, it is critical to document and socialize each decision made.

After every meeting, I’ve made it a habit to note down and email out key decisions made and next steps, along with an associated owner and deadline. This helps keep everyone accountable for decisions. Even if it’s just a casual conversation with a co-worker or client, be sure to follow up the conversation with an email documenting any decision that may impact the overall project, and be sure to keep all impacted stakeholders aware.

For taking detailed notes and documenting action items, I like to write things down first rather than type on a computer — this is a practice that has helped with memory retention, making me sharper and quicker on-the-job. This Moleskine notebook is designed specifically for project management, and can go a long ways in helping you stay organized.

Moleskine Project Management Notebook

I also love using a Montblanc pen to write with — it gives me something to look forward to every time it comes to writing something down.

Montblanc Pen

It may be useful to learn more about project management best practices and techniques without going through formal PMP training. This book, Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager, can be a great resource for helping consultants manage projects and can help consultants stay organized Yes, formal PMP training can be a plus, but most consultants aren’t looking to make a lifestyle out of project management. Rather, it is a necessity to delivery quality work & products for clients.

Project management may not be the most exciting topic for consultants, but it is a daily, unavoidable reality. Putting time into being an effective project manager is important, and staying organized is a crucial piece of that. From documenting and socializing key project decisions to keeping detailed notes, staying organized will go a long way in becoming making sure your projects run smoothly.

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The Biggest Travel Hack You Didn’t Know About

Amazon Fire Stick

Traveling in consulting can be both a blessing and a curse. For the first year or so of my consulting career, I always wondered what to do in a new city each evening. I felt immense pressure to do something exciting like trying new restaurants or bars, but it wasn’t easy to get out after a long day at work. I normally resorted to “Netflix and Chill” (by myself, of course) each evening, but opening my laptop always ended up with me sending off another email or finishing up a presentation. The last thing I want to do after work is… work. Then one day, I discovered one of the biggest travel hacks that changed has my life as a consultant to this date: the Amazon Fire Stick.

Yes, I know you’ve heard of a Fire Stick, but have you ever thought of using one on the road? You can easily plug in a Fire Stick to any hotel TV and watch your favorite moves and shows on the big screen. This has been absolutely life changing, and I now take my Fire Stick everywhere I travel.

Here are some of the things you can do every single day on the road with this travel hack:

  • Play music from your TV (that’s right, no more bringing speakers if you like to jam out in your hotel room!)
  • Watch any movie or TV show from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu
  • Browse sites like Facebook and Reddit
  • Stream workout videos from YouTube and get in shape
  • Live stream your favorite shows & sports games

There are so many incredible uses for a Fire Stick when you’re on-the-road — it’s really hard to believe that many consultants and travelers don’t have one. After the first few days of using it for travel, over half of my project team bought one for themselves and had me to thank!

Bottom line, this is a must have for consultants and quite possibly the best travel hack I have come across after years in the industry.

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The Best Headphones in the World

Best Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 20

Having a pair of quality headphones is a must for all working professionals, especially consultants. The Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones are hands down the best headphones I have ever used — they have great audio, are travel-friendly (not bulky, over-the-ear headphones), and drown out outside noise with the flip of a switch. While these headphones may not be the right choice for everybody, they are perfect for the traveling consultant.

Amazing Sound Quality

Bose is world-renowned for producing top-quality consumer headphones. The QuietComfort 20 is no exception. These in-ear headphones deliver excellent sound quality using Bose’s proprietary Active EQ and TriPort technology.

Noise Cancelling Capabilities

Normally, noise cancelling headphones are over-the-ear; there are very few in-ear noise cancelling headphones that exist. These headphones are able to deliver noise cancelling capabilities that rival even the top over-the-ear headphones. CNET calls these headphones “top performers in the noise cancelling earbuds category”, and Amazon reviewers agree. Here’s what one reviewer said:

“I think that these may have just saved my life. […] My downstairs neighbor gets home every day around 2 a.m. and without fail he is always on the phone. I tried the silicon, foam and even some weird elastic ear plugs and none of them worked, nothing seemed to be able to drown out this guys vibrating voice. [With these headphones] I can no longer hear what felt like my neighbor’s vibrating voice, my neighbor above me walking and slamming things at 6 a.m., or even my boyfriend getting home and walking on the creaky floors; its all drowned out COMPLETELY.”

Needless to say, having an effective pair of noise cancelling headphones is a must for consultants, and these headphones definitely deliver.

Perfect Fit

I have never had a pair of in-ear headphones fit this well. They’re extremely comfortable and never fall out of my ears. I regularly used them for 4 hours straight to drown out airplane noise when flying coast-to-coast on red eye flights without any discomfort. As a bonus, Bose offers multiple size options in their Stay Hear+ tips so that everyone can find their perfect fit.

A pair of good headphones is a great investment for consultants, especially when traveling. In addition to taking day-to-day client calls and listening to music, these headphones are great for all-day (and night) use with their comfortable earbuds and noise-cancelling capabilities. For full specifications as well as customer reviews, visit Amazon’s website.

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Tips and Tricks to Help You Get a Job in Consulting

Breaking into consulting isn’t easy. At each college or university, there are hundreds of candidates following similar casing strategies and behavioral interview frameworks, vying for just a few positions. Each candidate is unique in his or her own way, and showing that individuality is critical in making a lasting first impression on recruiting mangers.

After being both a candidate and a seasoned consultant screening other applicants, I’ve learned a few things that would have made the recruiting process a lot easier if I had known them ahead of time. Here are my top pieces of advice on how to get a job in consulting:

1. All Networking isn’t Good Networking

Most consulting candidates know networking is important. They go to all recruiting events and try to get a few words in with every practitioner they can. Almost always, these candidates end with “Do you mind if I get a business card so we can stay in touch?” 

Business cards are not Pokémon — you don’t need to catch ’em all.

Networking by trying to talk to as many people as possible isn’t an effective strategy, but it’s a great way to come off fake and make a bad first impression. Instead, I encourage applicants to network with a purpose.

This means three things:

  1. Reach out early, not just during recruiting season
  2. Don’t over-index on level; instead, prioritize speaking to people who work in areas you are interested in and ask targeted questions
  3. If you make a genuine connection, maintain it by asking for their contact information and staying in touch (even if you don’t end up getting / wanting the job)

2. Perfect Your Résumé

The 80/20 rule is important in consulting, but not when it comes to your résumé. Take the time to really think about the message you are trying to get across to recruiting managers and make sure your résumé reflects that. Only include relevant items (high school debate club does not count) and be sure to measure your impact when detailing your past experiences (e.g. “Led X initiatives that increased profitability by Y% over the period of Z years).

3. Don’t Overlook Your Campus Recruiter

Campus recruiters don’t make hiring decisions, but they are critical resources and can help guide you as you navigate the application process. In the past, recruiters have helped me connect with consulting practitioners, speed up interview timelines, and extend deadlines. Be sure to know who your campus recruiter is and to introduce yourself. To earn some brownie points, you can also offer to help out in any way you can with on-campus recruiting events, room bookings, etc. You never know when that connection will come in handy.

For more advice on how to get a job in consulting, check out Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng. It’s a great read, extremely helpful, and helped me get a job in consulting when I was an applicant.

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5 Essentials to Survive a Career in Consulting

Consulting isn’t an easy job — we commonly work 80+ hours a week, fly coast-to-coast, and juggle conflicting priorities. Over the course of my time in management consulting, I’ve found the following essentials to be crucial to making the grueling life on the road survivable.

1. Headphones

Headphones are probably the most commonly-used gadget for consultants (aside from their smartphones, of course). They’re used to drown out noise in airplanes, take client calls, and listen to music. I probably use headphones upwards of 6 hours a day — that’s over 2,000 hours a year! A great pair (or two) of headphones go a long way in making life just a little bit easier. Here are the two I use:

Bose QuiteComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Great for in-flight entertainment with its noise-cancelling feature

Apple AirPods

I use AirPods for day-to-day client calls

2. Luggage

If you travel for work, investing in the right luggage is a must. Luggage should be the right size for your belongings, easy to use, durable and stylish. I use two pieces of luggage on a daily basis — my carry on luggage and laptop briefcase.

Carry On Luggage: Travelpro Maxlite 21″ Suitcase

Durable & affordable

Laptop Briefcase: Tumi Alpha Bravo Slim

Laptop Briefcase: Jack Spade Nylon Brief

3. Portable Steamer

Ironing clothes every morning takes forever. With a portable steamer, you can instantly de-wrinkle clothes and sleep in just a little longer each morning!

PurSteam Garment Steamer

4. A Nice Watch

Wearing a nice watch to work can go a long way. An often overlooked and understated accessory, a watch can add flavor and style to any look. That being said, a nice watch does not mean a $10,000 Rolex. There are dozens of well-crafted & well-priced watches on the market for both men and women.

Men: Hamilton Khaki Navy Pioneer

Women: Michael Kors Runway (Rose Gold)

5. Reading Material

Taking some time away from work to unwind and relax is important to manage day-to-day stress. I love to read books during my free time, and a Kindle is an affordable way to have access to a lifetime’s worth of reading material.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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What is Consulting? Day in the Life of a Consultant

What is consulting?
What is Consulting?

It’s not uncommon for folks outside of consulting to really wonder, “What is consulting?” What consultants do on a day-to-day basis depends on client / project, travel schedule, and level. While there is no “typical” day in consulting, I’ll try to take you through what a day in the life of a consultant could look like from my own personal experience after 2+ years in consulting at a Top 5 firm.

6AM – Alarm

My 6AM alarm rings and I remember the promise I made to myself the night before: to work out. Feeling tired and slightly hungover after a team dinner & drinks, I turn it off and wait for the next alarm to wake up. Truth is, I make myself that promise every night — it rarely gets fulfilled.

7AM – The Real Alarm

Okay, now it’s really time to get up. Before I get out of bed, I immediately reach for my phone to check my email and make sure there were no fire drills (i.e. client emergencies). I start getting ready, thankful I remembered to pack all my personal care items this week (this kit has pretty much everything a man could need, travel sized). 

(Pro Tip: For a quick & comfortable shave each morning, try Philips OneBlade — this changed my life).

8AM – First Call & Leave for Work

After getting ready, I quickly call an Uber to work and take out my AirPods to hop on my first call of the day with our offshore team in India. I’m hoping I don’t have to speak because I’ll probably lose service in the elevator down and will have to drop the call when my Uber driver inevitably calls to tell me they have arrived (to all the Uber drivers out there, we know when you arrive. Give us a minute.).

8:30AM – Coffee

Once I get to the office, I put my things down, grab a co-worker or two, and go get a coffee to start my day. I prefer higher-end coffee shops (e.g. Blue Bottle), but I can settle for Starbucks. My order is a trenta cold brew (black), in case you were wondering. After numbing myself to the effects of coffee over time, caffeine rush lasts only about 3 hours.

10AM – Daily Scrum Meeting

After firing off emails and sipping on a burnt-tasting cold brew for most of the morning, our team’s daily scrum meeting time approaches. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this is when the whole team gets together in a room and talks about what they are working on. In my opinion, a colossal waste of time. But yes, we do this… every. single. day.

11AM – Client Calls

I don’t like to schedule my client calls first thing in the morning because I’m typically still half-awake, so I take a couple from 11 till lunch time. These calls are typically either design / requirements gathering sessions (common when working on a technology project) or meetings to work through some sort of issue or fire drill (most of the time they aren’t even real issues — they were self-created through one misinterpreted client comment followed by several games of telephone down the chain of command).

Pro Tip: Always offer to schedule meetings for your team and client. It’s a bit of manual work, but you get to choose a time that works well with you.

1PM – Lunch

It’s finally time for lunch. I try and push myself (and my team) to eat as late as possible because it makes the 2nd half of the day seem shorter, but since I don’t eat breakfast I’m famished by this time. I offer to order for the team in most cases (this way, I get to pick the restaurant), and we get it delivered through Uber Eats or Postmates. I’m typically still in calls when lunch arrives, so I send an analyst down to go play Where’s Waldo with the delivery guy.

2PM – More Meetings

If you haven’t noticed, meetings are a trend. I spend roughly 80% of my days in meetings, which leaves me 20% of my time to do actual work. This is the cost of keeping senior leadership and the client happy and informed while still trying to get your job done.

3PM – Leave for Airport

I traveled from the west coast to the east coast and back during the work week, so I pack my beloved Tumi laptop bag and leave for airport earlier than most folks. On the way to the airport, I take another client call (it’s incredible how many calls you get invited to when you have a little subject matter expertise).

Pro Tip: Remember to block off time on your calendar if you don’t want meetings scheduled — when I was on the west coast and had east coast clients, I always blocked off 5-8am so I could get a full night’s sleep.

5PM Take Off & PowerPoint

I rarely get time to stop by the airport lounge, so I have my first drink on-flight (double Bloody Mary). Shortly after, I bust out my laptop again and start working on presentations. These presentations are typically for next-day leadership status updates or client design sessions. Airplanes are my quiet time, thanks to these Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, and where I work the most efficiently. I love these headphones now that I no longer have to hear the first-time flyers complaining that they can’t connect to the wifi or annoying babies crying all flight long (send ’em to the back of the plane!).

8PM Land, Groceries, and Home

There’s no better feeling than landing home on a Thursday evening. With a smile on my face, I rush out to find my car and get to Trader Joe’s to do my grocery shopping for the weekend so I can get home and sleep! Looking back, I probably would have saved a lot of valuable time with Amazon Fresh. After I get home, I turn on Netflix for an hour and slowly fall asleep after another long (yet rewarding) week on the road.

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Dress for Success (Men)

Dressing for success at the client site can be a daunting task at first, but once you have a good, foundational wardrobe, dressing for success will be as easy as mixing and matching.


When picking out shirts, fit is key. Be sure get your shirts tailored if they don’t fit perfectly off-the-shelf — with the right fit, you can make a $29 generic brand shirt look better than that $200 Hugo Boss your pretentious senior manager wears. Here are some great options:


This shirt comes in 8 color combinations and 13 size options. With such a large variety you can make sure you get the perfect fitting shirt in enough colors to last the work week and more.

Calvin Klein Non Iron Slim Fit

Calvin Klein is an incredibly well-known and respected brand that won’t break the budget. These shirts will save you a LOT of time each morning since you don’t have to iron them! As a bonus, this particular shirt comes in over a dozen color options.


When choosing what pants to wear to your client’s site, please keep their dress code in mind – not all clients allow jeans. When in doubt, err on the formal side (a nice looking pair of dress slacks always work well).

Amazon Essentials Slim Fit Pant

When dressing for success, slim fit pants are a must — the days of baggy and oversized pants are over. Amazon offers slim fit pants that have rave reviews – 65% of all reviewers gave these pants 5 stars.

7 for all Mankind

If your client is on the casual side, getting a pair of jeans that will last you years is a great option. These jeans from 7 for all Mankind are extremely comfortable and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are the one area in which I always recommend going high-end. Well-made dress shoes last much longer than some cheaper brands and are more comfortable. Be sure to also get a shoe care kit along with it so you can take great care of them. And remember, never wear brown shoes with black pants.

Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue

This is the only pair of shoes I’ll recommend here because it’s the only one I can personally attest to. I have owned these shoes in the Chili color for years — I also bought a shoe care kit from Allen Edmonds that keep them looking brand new every day. These shoes look great, are versatile, and last a long time with proper care.

Pro Tip: Allen Edmonds also offers matching belts!

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Best Carry On Luggage

Best Carry On Luggage

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

If you still use old, worn out carry on luggage without all the bells and whistles of carry on luggage meant for road warriors, you could be missing out. Having a job in management consulting is not easy, but having the best carry on luggage can make your life just a little bit easier. Breezing through the TSA line like George Clooney in Up in the Air is a great, great feeling and requires the best carry on luggage.

My personal favorite

Travelpro MaxLite 21″ Spinner

If you’ve been to an airport recently, you may have noticed several business travelers and flight attendants with either Travelpro or Tumi suitcases. In my opinion, both are great brands, but my personal favorite is the the Travelpro MaxLite spinner. Travelpro has some of the best carry on luggage at a very reasonable price. This specific carry on is lightweight, moves around easily, and is expandable. For the price, you really can’t beat this suitcase.

If you want to splurge a bit (and maybe turn some heads, too!)

Tumi Tegra Lite Carry On

This Tumi bag is not only stunning, but one of the most sturdy pieces of carry on luggage you can buy. Tumi is known for making beautiful luggage that lasts, so you definitely can’t go wrong here. The only con here is the price tag, but if you’re willing to splurge for one of the best pieces of carry on luggage that can last a lifetime, this is a great option.

For the more budget conscious

AmazonBasics Premium Spinner with TSA Lock

The AmazonBasics carry on luggage is a great option for the budget-conscious. For the price, this piece of carry on luggage is surprisingly well-built. Additionally, this piece of luggage has a built-in TSA lock, which should give you some peace of mind about the safety and security of your belongings. As an added bonus, there are 5+ color options to choose from!

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