Normally, I’m not impressed by fancy schmancy brands, and statement bags adorned with gold Roman numerals will just get you robbed in most third world countries. However, when it comes to quality travel bags, I’ve found that you get what you pay for. So I am going to name drop like Fifty Cent right now because experience has taught me that these work best.
Travel Bag . For an actual travel bag, I really like the super lightweight Samsonite Cordoba model. I found it to be a strong, versatile, soft sided bag, up for the rigors of international travel. And when it comes to color I recommend basic black. I thought I was being so smart one time, picking a tan bag that would be easy spot in baggage claim. Huge mistake. It was a filthy black mess upon arrival at my first destination. I also recommend adding a brightly colored strap that wraps around the outside of your bag. Not only does it make identification a breeze, it also keeps your bag from exploding, should you be like me and like to shop for indigenous items along the way.
Backpack . There are times when a rolling carryon bag just isn’t feasible. This is particularly true with a long layover when I prefer exploring the local city rather than hanging out in the airport wishing for my next flight. So what is a good alternative? I like to use a small backpack and my favorite is the Samsonite Vizair computer backpack. It is sturdy, compact and very roomy and weighs in at just under 2 pounds. Oh, and here’s the best part, it has a dedicated padded slot that protects all of your electronic gear leaving it safe and readily available for those ubiquitous security check points.
Carry-On . I am very partial to the Wenger Swiss Gear brand, conveniently available at Target. Though small and compact, it is designed in a way that makes it perfect for everything from that extra set of clothes, to magazines and medication. (Did you notice that I didn’t mention jewelry here? I highly recommend that you leave any expensive or sentimental jewelry at home.)
Belly Bag/Fanny Pack – Hey! I heard you snicker. ”Did she just say belly bag?” Yes, I did, and while it’s not something that I would use in a big city since it does have a tendency to make me look like a nerd — not having to dig through a backpack or purse searching for passport, money, room key or whatever makes the belly bag a huge hit in my book. So where would you find a belly bag/fanny pack in this day and age?? I have had the best luck at flea markets. Yes, flea markets and since they last forever you really only need to buy just one. I know, I know!!! Let’s start a new belly bag fad!!
This brings us to… size. Size. Does. Matter. It is scientifically proven that the bigger the bag, the more stuff you feel you need to bring. More stuff equals more weight and with shipping costs sky rocketing, more and more travelers are choosing to carry their purchases in their luggage. That’s why I recommend carrying two smaller (21-24 inch) bags. Now, that doesn’t mean you should pack both to overflowing on the way out, ideally, one bag will fit into the other. But if you must pack both, and your airline doesn’t charge an outrageous fee for the extra bag, remember to pack each one lightly so there is plenty of room for all your new goodies on the way home.
One last thing. Do yourself a favor — engage the services of a porter or luggage handler at the airport. For the cost of a good cup of good coffee these hard working men and women will be happy to look after both you and your bags leaving you free to do what you are here to do… enjoy. You will thank me for it, I promise.