In January there were two significant events – my birthday and the official formation of Jet Set Lisette LLC. I decided to celebrate with a few gifts to myself. And what better gifts than travel gear?
This in large part was also prompted by an excellent post on Unfancy, one of my favorite non-travel related blogs. I follow Caroline because she inspires me with her savvy minimalist wardrobe advice. She recently posted a winter travel packing post, and I was immediately impressed with her carry-on bag by Away – a new product that apparently has been all the rage with power travelers. After reading about and seeing its thoughtful design, well, I had to have one. She also included a link to a new leather tote bag by Fashionable – and I knew it was going to be the one. I’ve been on the hunt for a utilitarian yet stylish tote for a year or two now, and this one seemed to fit the bill. I’m now on my way to Tokyo, the inaugural trip for my new luggage, and I’m already in love.
Let me start by listing some of the many reasons why I’m loving my new Away carry-on:
- It’s compact. In fact it’s probably the smallest hard-shell, non expandable carry-on I’ve ever used. However its design allows for maximum storage despite the small footprint. I love how it forces me to only pack the essentials. But know that Away does also offer larger sizes.
- It is what they call smart luggage – meaning it has a built in battery for easy device charging (2 at a time!) while waiting in airport terminals. No more having to hunt for an open outlet near a seat. The battery is also removable should the need arise. And this bag costs considerably less than other comparable smart suitcases out there.
- It is incredibly well designed – with one side of the suitcase built for non-compressable, hard items like shoes and toiletries, while the other side is designed for compressible soft items like clothing. It also has a mesh pouch in the middle which is also under the compression straps.
- It comes with a waterproof laundry bag that rolls away into a pouch for easy storage. Yep, you can throw your wet suimsuit inside of it and you’ll be fine.
- It is made of thin, flexible polycarbonate – which means it is extremely light yet durable, and has excellent four-way rolling wheels making it easy to zip around the airport,
- It has a built in TSA approved lock that’s easy to use.
- It looks cool. What more can I say?
And what about the Alem Utility bag by Fashionable? Let me tell you why I was so happy it arrived in time for my trip:
- Fully lined, this tote has four large inner pockets (including one that zips) and one very convenient outer pocket for keys, cell phones or a passport. This makes for easy organization and less digging around – which can be one of the downsides of large tote bags.
- It has a top zipper so that you can completely close off the bag – which is important when having to tuck it under a small airplane seat, possibly on its side.
- It has a crossbody strap. As I get older, I find that I need options for distributing weight across my torso – and not only rely on one shoulder.
- It’s gorgeous. Made from beautiful leather, it should last a lifetime with the proper care. Plus it is made by an ethically-minded company that offers products by “women who have overcome.”
I also decided to get another item I’d been eyeing – the popular Hydroflask, known for keeping your cold liquids cool for up to 24 hours without any condensation on the outside of the bottle, and hot liquids hot for up to 12 hours. Unfancy included this bottle in a great post on tote bag essentials for traveling, which spurred me on. A bit spendy but well worth it.
Lastly – I decided to try the KonMari folding method that Caroline mentions in the winter packing post, and didn’t use any organization cubes for the first time in a long time. I’m amazed with how much space I saved – I think I’m a convert. I’m now also using this folding method in my dresser drawers at home and can’t believe the difference – not only do I have more room, but it’s easier to see what I have in each drawer.
At first glance these can feel like spendy items. However if you look at the overall value for what you are paying, and compare them with other comparable products, I think you’ll agree that these are worth the investment. Bottom line – for someone who travels as much as I do, high quality gear that makes traveling easier is worth every penny. I’m already so glad I took the plunge.