Bring This, Not That: Backpack, Rollaboard, or Duffel Bag for a Carry-On?

August 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We’ve talked before about the different benefits of backpacks, rollaboards, and duffel bags and we definitely think that each one has a particular area where it shines. The regular business traveler might favor the rollaboard, while the college student would enjoy the backpack. And travel writer Mark Eveleigh has waxed rhapsodic about the duffel bag.

So is there a “best bag” to bring on your next trip?

It depends on the size of the particular bag and the length of the trip.

On the business side, the backpack has almost been a replacement for the briefcase, especially among younger people, particularly when you’re talking about the business-style backpack. When you actually do travel, you can use your backpack and a rollaboard at the same time.

Tpro Bold 2 Group Photo - Blue

Our Tpro Bold 2 line – duffel bags, rollaboards, and backpacks.

The backpack will carry your work essentials for a business meeting, to visit a client, or to give a presentation. The rollaboard takes your clothes and toiletries. And if you have a Travelpro backpack, there’s even a strap to slide over the rollaboard’s extended handle.

The duffel bag could be, depending on its size, a replacement for the rollaboard or backpack. These are very useful for non-business type trips, but could require some more energy and forethought.

In terms of plane travel, the rollaboard usually can’t fit under the seat in front of you, so it would have to be stored in the overhead bin. Also, rollaboards have wheels, which are great for pulling the bag behind you, but you can easily set duffels down, and as long as you’re carrying them, they’re all-terrain bags.

Mark Eveleigh and his girlfriend, Narina Exelby, are adventure travel writers who have a strong preference for duffels because they don’t like toting backpacks around on their backs, and instead look for duffels with heavy-duty wheels.

As is often the case, you need to think about the nature of your trip. Make sure you have the right piece for the particular trip you’re going on. They can all be useful in different situations: rollaboards are great in the city, while duffel bags are better for weekends in the cabin or if you’re going to do a lot of hiking. And backpacks are just great all around for your smaller items and work essentials.

Which is your favorite? Let us hear from you. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

4 Tips to Never Losing Your Luggage Again

August 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article in U.S. News travel notes that lost airline luggage has become something of a rarity. You have a less than 1 percent chance of losing your luggage. However, it’s still worth your while to make efforts to keep yourself out of that 1 percent. Here’s how.

Give the airline plenty of time to deal with your baggage by arriving early to your flight and not booking yourself into connecting flights that have extremely tight windows. If you have to rush to go from one flight to the next, so does your luggage, and the baggage handlers may not be as fast as you. (Plus, you can save yourself the headache and anxiety of racing to make that next flight.)

A baggage handler unloading bags from the moto...

A baggage handler unloading bags from the motorized ramp underneath an recently-landed airplane in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure your bag is clearly identifiable. You can do this as easily as tying a colorful sock or ribbon to your handle. Next, avoid putting anything of high value into it. Placing a Monet painting into your checked luggage is a great way to ensure someone steals it en route. If you need high-value items at your destination, or want to take them home, have them shipped via courier and get the replacement insurance.

You can also add a tracking device to your luggage. These days, such devices are easy to come by and using one is a great way to better ensure you’ll be reunited with your bag after your plane lands. The devices use GPS tracking and your smartphone to make sure you find your luggage, so at the very least you can tell the airline representative where your bag is.

And finally, know your rights when it comes to lost luggage. There are a lot of rules around lost luggage and many of them benefit the airlines (for instance, there is a list of items that they will not replace, including that Monet painting). Know them before you ever leave the house, so you know what you can and can’t take, should and shouldn’t have, and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever become one of the 1 percent.

How do you keep track of your luggage when you fly? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Poncho Versus Umbrella

August 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Should you bring a poncho or an umbrella when traveling? Are there situations where you would take one and not the other?

One of our co-workers always takes an umbrella when he travels, particularly on a business trip. He just feels that an umbrella is a better choice. The umbrella is easier to deal with. It just seems like a better choice because it’s there when you need it and you don’t have to put it on or deal with folding it back up after using it.

English: The SENZ umbrella, develloped at the ...

The SENZ umbrella, developed at the Delft University of Technology, withstanding stormy winds. Picture taken at the Kunsthal exhibition on Dutch Design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re planning on attending any sporting events on your trip, you should take a poncho as stadiums tend to discourage umbrellas. Or if you’re going on an outdoor expedition, a poncho might be more realistic because it provides more coverage and you’re more mobile; an umbrella can tend to limit mobility a bit, and doesn’t cover you adequately if there are high winds.

Ultimately, it just depends on your situation and what you’re doing. In terms of everyday life, I would prefer an umbrella.

One exception might be when you’re traveling to a place where space is limited, and you can’t just pop out an umbrella. One of those small pack away ponchos can come in handy, because you’re still covered, even in close quarters.

On the other hand, you can take a small umbrella and pack it into one of the pockets in your luggage or backpack so it’s there if you need it. A very small compact umbrella is the one you want to go with when you’re traveling. Just don’t count on it in a heavy storm.

Figure out the situation before you go, of course, but we ultimately recommend an umbrella if you’re going somewhere on business and a poncho if you’re expecting to be more active during your vacation. And either one can work as a small pack away as long as you go with the smaller versions suitable for that situation.

How do you keep dry when the rains come? Got any helpful hints or ideas? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Bring This, Not That: Smaller Bags versus Larger Luggage

July 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

When packing for a flight, travelers don’t always want to haul around one large bag, so they opt for carrying a few smaller bags instead. For example, we’ve known women who carry their cosmetics in a separate bag, as well as a small rollaboard or spinner, and a briefcase or purse.

This is fine for car travel, but what about plane travel? Is it better to consolidate all your luggage into one larger bag or carry some of the items you might ordinarily pack on the plane with you. Should you carry the cosmetics bag, which is about the size of a small tote, or figure out how to pack it with your clothes in a large suitcase?

Tpro Bold 2 Duffel - Open

The new Tpro Bold 2 Rolling Duffel — you can fit a lot more in here than a couple small bags can hold.

Let’s assume our female passenger doesn’t have room in her 20″ carry-on bag, so she’ll have to carry her cosmetics bag. Remember, airlines allow one carry-on and one personal bag, which includes a purse or briefcase. If she’s already got a personal bag, she either needs to make room in the carry-on bag, or get a larger piece of luggage and consider checking her bag.

So which is her better choice?

We should first look at the economics. If you take a larger suitcase, most airlines will charge for a checked bag fee. That’s one decision that has to be made up front. The whole reason we recommend carry-on bags is to avoid those fees.

Next, consider security, trust, and convenience. If our passenger has her medications, she absolutely won’t want to be separated from her bag. It’s also nice to have access to your toothbrush and something to wash your face and freshen up in flight, or to use the minute you get off the plane.

She’ll also need to think about how much she’s packing, and how long her trip is going to be. This is where packing fewer pieces that are more versatile, in order to create more outfits, pays off. Or rolling clothes instead of folding them.

Some people also like smaller bags they can put underneath the seat so they can access certain items during the flight. If you split your luggage between two carry-on items, you don’t have to worry about waiting to pick up your bag after the flight, and you can get important items during the flight.

However, juggling multiple items can definitely be inconvenient. It can be nice to have the airline take care of everything, which can be great especially when you have a layover during which you would have to keep all your luggage together.

Ultimately, this is a personal choice. Are you happy with a bigger bag that may require baggage fees? Or do you want to avoid fees, so you travel light, roll your clothes, and make sure everything is as efficient as possible to keep it all in your two carry-on items? Pick the method that suits you and your travel preferences.

What do you do? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Huggies Wipes Versus Purse Tissues or TP

July 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

How do we put this delicately? There are times when you need. . . personal hygiene items. Maybe you have babies and toddlers who need to be cleaned up during a diaper change. Or maybe you’re going to be out in the wilderness for several days. Or you’re one of those moms who’s über-prepared for everything, and your purse holds so much stuff, it should have been in a Harry Potter movie.

So the question becomes what should you carry? A small packet of tissues, moist baby wipes like Huggies wipes, or even a small roll of toilet paper?

There’s really only one choice: baby wipes.

English: Wet wipe (2 Thai models)

Wet wipe (2 Thai models) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every young parent knows about the importance of baby wipes. Not only are they great for wiping up baby, but they’re really useful everywhere else. Most parents we know swear by Huggies brand, but there are plenty of other great brands out there too.

My wife and I have a daughter, and we always have some wipes on hand, which we use for a lot of things. We can wipe down tables and chairs when we go to a restaurant, and I’ve used them to wipe up spills on our clothing.

I know someone who used to go to Canada on week-long fishing trips, and he said they would pack a box of Huggies wipes, rather than a lot of TP and paper towels. They could clean anything, especially food stains on shirts, plus anything else they might need them for.

Even if you don’t have kids or if your kids are older, the wipes are still worth carrying, because they can be used for so many different purposes while traveling. Anyone whose gotten used to having wipes available knows their usefulness goes way beyond cleaning up a dirty child.

When space and weight are an issue, wipes are a good choice. They’re more compact, they’re already moistened and they can clean a lot of things. And if you need regular tissues, a small pack in your purse or briefcase make a great backup.

What do you carry for personal cleaning? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

20 Things You Should Never Pack in Your Checked Luggage

July 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Did you know that there is a list of items that airlines ask you not to pack? Not the TSA. We all know about their list of forbidden and allowed items and the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule. The airlines themselves have their own list.

The airlines’ list comprises items specifically barred from reimbursement if they’re lost either due to theft or your entire bag being lost. The airline will not reimburse you for these items, regardless of how and why they were lost, even if it’s completely their fault.

The Stuffed Head of Moose

That’ll never fit in one of our bags! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent article in The Huffington Post shared the 20 items that should never be packed in your checked bag, including items such as jewelry, expensive electronics, cash, and even antlers and pelts.

Some of these things, such as medications and eyeglasses, are items that many people would not hesitate to pack so it’s good to know airlines have their own list. It boils down to common sense when you think about it: don’t put anything irreplaceable or valuable into a checked back.

That’s because it’s just a bad idea to pack something extremely valuable into a piece of luggage that is going to be tossed around and handled by multiple people, many of whom have access to the interior of the bag even if you put a lock on it.

Instead of packing items such as iPads or cash, take them on the plane with you in a carry on bag. Some things, such as jewelry or smart phones can easily be kept on your person instead of packed. If you are traveling for vacation, bringing expensive jewelry is just not a good idea period. It makes you a magnet for petty thieves and pickpockets.

Other items on the list include things that are completely irreplaceable such as heirlooms, collectible items, antlers, or rare books. These items should instead be shipped to wherever you’re going. Especially the antlers.

Basically anything that you are unwilling to part with should not be packed into your checked baggage because there is just too much opportunity for it to be lost or stolen while you’re traveling. And while loss and theft is not commonplace, you don’t want it to happen to you.

Do you have any helpful suggestions about moving valuable items from one destination to the other? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or leave one below.

Virgin America Contemplates Charging For Carry-On Bags

July 21, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Yes, you read that right, Virgin American is considering charging customers for carry-on bags. A May 19 article in Global Traveler reports on remarks made by Virgin American CEO David Cush on the topic. He said he thought charging for customers to put luggage in the belly of the craft and giving them prime space within the cabin for free was rather backwards. He also noted that charging the same amount of money for baggage on short and long flights is a bit nonsensical as well.

This would make Virgin one of the bigger airlines to take this step. Spirit and Allegiant already charge for carry-on baggage in excess of one personal item such as a backpack or purse. Could this start a reverse migration to checked bags? Would more people check bags instead of carrying them on?

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340-600 aircraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a concern on the side of the airlines because there’s so much activity with carry-ons: it takes longer to board and deplane because of all the bags people bring on flights with them. That means the potential is there to not arrive at the destination on time. On time arrivals is a metric that all airlines track. From the travelers standpoint, they’re doing it to avoid checked baggage fees. In other words, the airlines have created a problem for themselves that they’re now looking to solve.

It will be interesting to see if Virgin America really goes forward with this idea. It will create another layer of add-on pricing, which could make Virgin less competitive. Allegiant and Spirit are known for having low base ticket prices and then charging add-ons to customers for almost everything. We wonder if Virgin America would need to lower the base price of its tickets if it decides to start charging for carry-on luggage. Otherwise, they could be undercut by bigger airlines.

On the other hand, if Virgin went forward with this plan, other major carriers may also jump onto the bandwagon, and we could all start paying for our checked bags.

What would you do if Virgin and other airlines started charging for carry-on bags? Let us hear from you here or on our Facebook page.

Bring This, Not That: Refillable Water Bottles versus Buying Water

July 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever since the TSA has not allowed more than 3.4 liquid ounces to pass an airport security checkpoint, travelers have dealt with the high prices that are charged for beverages, like bottled water and soda in the convenience and magazine stores at the airport.

But if you’re a water drinker, you can always pack an empty bottle with you to fill. It’s a good way to save money, but it also brings with it the possibility of picking up some germs from the drinking fountain. We tend to recommend against filling your bottle at the drinking fountain, but it’s definitely a personal decision based on how much of a germaphobe you are.

Drinking water fountain

Drinking water fountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, more airports have begun installing water bottle filling stations, which can be presumed to be cleaner as they’re set up in a way so germy mouths can’t come into contact with them. And if you’re concerned about the environment, packing a refillable bottle can be a great way to make a difference as water bottles do create a lot of waste.

Of course, you may want to consider whether you want to carry a large, bulky refillable water bottle with you. If you’re traveling light, try to stick with disposable bottles, so you don’t have to buy a bottle only to lose it on the second day of the trip.

Finally, consider how long you have to wait for your plane. Most flights still offer beverage service, which means you can get relief in a fairly short time. So if your airport stay is going to be short, you may not need to buy a drink at all. Just wait until you’re up in the air and guzzle down some complimentary water.

What are your hydration habits at the airport? Do you buy your own water or soda, drink at a fountain, or just fill up on the plane? Leave us a comment or head over on our Facebook page and let us hear from you.

The Ultimate Easy Trip Guide for the Disorganized Traveler

June 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on Yahoo Travel doles out some life changing tips for the traveler who has a hard time keeping things together in order to make a plan. We all know those folks — they’re the artists, the right-brainers, the free spirits.

The disorganized.

How do they get any work done?

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Working at traveling may seem like too much for them. They’re more of the throw-some-clothes-in-a-bag-and-go type. But you can still have a successful trip if you just follow a few simple tips, especially if you’re not a frequent traveler.

We really believe in using travel apps to help you plan your trip and to take screenshots of good ideas. Pick a couple apps you really like and start using them around your home town. Use them to pick some places you’d like to visit on your trip.

Also, pack your clothes with a color scheme in mind, so you can mix and match more easily, which means you don’t have to pack as much. There are also some tips on what to pack in order to make your outfit look different very easily. You really don’t need a different outfit for every day of the trip. Instead plan on doing laundry or reusing certain items. And just mix and match different items for different looks. Over packing is easy to do if you’re not careful.

It’s not a bad idea to wear shoes that are easy to take off, and don’t take any more than three pair for the entire trip. Wear the heaviest pair on the plane so you have more room in your suitcase for your smaller shoes.

One item we didn’t see in the list, but we think it’s important: if you’re flying, prep before you get to the front of the security line. Make sure you have the items you’ll need to remove from your luggage in an easily accessible part of your luggage. Make sure your ticket and ID are also easy to find. The last thing you want to do when you get to the front of the line is fumble around for your identification.

What about our frequent travelers? Any advice you would offer new travelers, especially those who are a little more. . . ah, carefree about their organization? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Traveling Ultra Light: What to Leave Behind

May 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent article on About Travel, a student travel website, brings up the issue of what items you should leave behind when traveling. We think the advice could apply to anyone, although the advice for hostels may indeed be more of a student/cheap traveler thing. (We’ll leave the youth hostels to our younger compatriots!)

A lot of the advice boils down to the simple recommendation that you act like you do at home instead of gearing up and buying a lot of specialty items. For instance, the author said she paid $100 for a silk sleeping bag liner that she had never used.

Wenger Swiss Army knife, opened.

Wenger Swiss Army knife. These aren’t always necessary, unless you’re going camping. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article also discusses the fact that money belts aren’t necessarily as useful as some may think. Just be conscious and careful as you are at home with your money. A Swiss army knife is another overrated item. It can be useful, but isn’t strictly necessary because things you need will probably be available unless you’re camping.

And don’t buy dedicated travel clothes. Just wear what you normally wear instead of buying special clothes. People do tend to over pack in general. You can’t really pack for every possible situation unless you want to deal with a massive suitcase. Just plan in advance, and figure out how to do laundry while you’re on your trip.

You can also assume that wherever you’re going, they have stores and you can purchase something if you have an emergency.

Another thing to think about: Do you need to take a laptop on a non-business trip? Especially if you have a tablet or even a smartphone. You can give up that luxury of the bigger screen for efficiency. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with a smartphone, and a pen and notebook.

The advice in the article and from TravelPro boils down to keeping common sense in mind when packing. Be realistic about what you will really need while you’re traveling and try to think back to other trips where certain items have sat in your luggage for the entire time. Leave that stuff behind.

What are some travel items you’ve learned to live without? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or just leave one below. Let us hear some of your travel secrets.

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