Every trip teaches me something new about what works best for each travel-related situation. Working with different retailers, I am able to try new products and figure out what works best for me.
Every trip poses a new set of circumstances. How long are you going to be gone? Will you have access to laundry service? Are you flying? Will you need your passport? What about security?
I recently returned from a trip to South Africa. I used my new suitcase which was fantastic. It made it through airline abuse without a scratch. The downside was it was a little too small for two weeks, so I also took a piece of carry-on luggage. With my backpack (made of the same heavy material as my suitcase) stuffed with my computer, cameras, extra set of cloths and medications, I had two carry-ons. Even if I locked my backpack and my identification and credit cards were safe, there are two problems: getting everything out at the airport for security and boarding, and my backpack is not RFID-secure.
RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track information attached to objects including credit cards and passports. Although it has been around for years, its relatively new use is identity and digital theft. RFID skimming enables information from RFID-based smart cards to be read and duplicated.
So, I have an RFID neck stash that acts as a little purse. In it I put my passport, driver’s license, boarding pass, credit cards, a little cash and any receipts I collect at the airport. It is small. If I get stopped for having three items (and yes, it happened one time out of dozens of flights), it easily fits into my backpack. It is also very easy to conceal under my jacket or sweater. I actually leave it on when I am on the airplane. I have heard too many horror stories of things being stolen while you are asleep or in the restroom. But that’s another story.
For an upcoming trip to Italy, I will be catching buses and trains to move around Tuscany and Le Marche regions. Although my South Africa plan worked, I don’t want to have two suitcases in tow. With the help of Eagle Creek, I will be touring around this magical country with a Gear Warrior AWD 29, the bigger version of the suitcase I took to South Africa. Problem solved.
I’m currently in the process of packing and realized my toiletry bag has seen better days, so I set out to find a new one. I usually shy away from hanging toiletry bags, but I found one that was different. The bottom part is three inches wide with little sleeves to hold items such as hairspray, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner. There is room in the bottom for other items as well as a front pouch; two pouches on the top part that fold out to hang and a pouch on the front of the folded-up kit. I was sold.
In Cambodia, a monkey attacked my RFID purse that I carry for the usual reasons as well as water, and extra camera batteries and SD cards. Fortunately no travel writers were injured in the attack, but my purse did suffer a few ill effects, so I ordered a new one. It converts to either a cross-over bag, or a backpack. And while I was at it, I found a zippered leather RFID clutch for evenings out.
I always use packing cubes. I think of them as mini dresser drawers: one for tops, another for undergarments and pajamas, and so forth. After packing the cubes, they fit neatly into my suitcase. When I am at a hotel looking for clothes, I simply take out the cube, get what I want and put the cube back; no fuss, no muss, no stress.
I also discovered packing tubes. Eagle Creek offers a tube cube that fits perfectly between the ribs caused by the suitcase handle. I ordered two. They are excellent for socks and other small items, and they save me even more space in the suitcase.
I’d say I’m ready: right luggage, RFID purses, new toiletry bag, packing cubes and packing tubes, and guidebooks.
Italy, here I come!!
Disclosure: Eagle Creek, eBags, Lewis N. Clark, JonGlez Publishing and CMUK Shoes provided the products for review, but the opinions are all mine.