Most packing tips detail what to bring in your luggage on a trip (which is a hard task in itself), but choosing what vessel to pack all your stuff in is an entirely different challenge, yet oh so important.
The choice of what to pack in will have an effect on your comfort, your capacity, your convenience, as well as your safety. When I am packing for a backpacking trip, here are three things I don’t leave home without.
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My Faithful Ruby Red Backpack
This is the exact backpack that I carry (the colors change every year). This is a women’s Gregory Jade 50, size small, and I highly recommend it for the three C’s: convenience, comfort, and capacity.
I first went into REI to have their experts fit me for a backpack, and once I decided on the perfect one for me, I went home and ordered it through REI Outlet (Same backpack for cheaper! Different color of course).
Why do I love this backpack? Not only does it fit my torso nicely and comfortably, preventing me from becoming sore and grumpy (important), but I also appreciate its pockets, zippers, and overall construction.
With a side zipper, clothes and things at the bottom of the bag are accessible without having to pull everything out of the top; there is a bulky area to stuff shoes or wet clothes on the outside of everything else. The smaller pockets are perfect shapes and sizes for my random gadgets, and it really holds the perfect amount of items without encouraging overpacking.
I bought it in 2010 after having traveled for too many years with a colossal (no, not a brand, just an adjective) 65+10 medium backpack that was nothing but trouble for me. I love my faithful Gregory Jade 50 and have no plans to ditch it any time soon.
My Travel Wallet
This is the exact wallet that I have; actually my husband and I both use this wallet. It is a Clava ID Holder, leather-bound, velcro to hold it closed, a little coin pocket, a clear ID window, one pocket space to put cash or cards, and even a key ring (convenient). People, when you are traveling, this is all you need. In fact, since it’s so small it fits right in your pocket, which is great if you aren’t carrying a bag or purse.
The wallet I carry at home would never fit in my pocket and is unnecessarily bulky for while I’m abroad. I simply don’t need all my credit cards, local punch cards, and business cards in my wallet while I’m traveling. In fact, I want to carry as little as possible, so I move into my travel wallet. I highly recommend this wallet also because of the velcro. It is just one more defense mechanism that you can use to protect your valuables. And guys put it in your front pocket; avoid pick-pocketing.
Wallets like this one here are becoming popular among travelers. This is a Pacsafe Rfid-tec Wallet, equipped with Rfid-blocking material. Many passports, ID cards and credit cards contain Rfid chips, which hold all your personal information. This wallet has smart material that blocks transmissions of your sensitive information so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If your credit cards and debit cards have chips, you may consider this safe, compact travel wallet.
My Carry-On and Day Bag: Over-the-Shoulder ZIPPER Purse
Notice that ZIPPER is capitalized! Zippers could very well be your best friends when you are traveling, and with a simple safety pin they can be locked closed, thus preventing thieves from stealing from you!
Whether you are male or female, make sure the day bag that you carry has a zipper. It is your first line of defense. The purse above is very similar to the one I carry. I happened to have bought mine six years ago in Panajachel, Guatemala, and therefore cannot easily recommend that exact one to you. However, it is very similar to this Thai Hippie Bag I found online.
Why do I love it? I already explained the benefits of the zipper, but there are other features that are notable about this bag. First of all, it has a nice, wide strap that distributes the weight of the bag evenly over the shoulder, preventing those awful and painful indents in your skin from narrow straps.
Second, I like that I can wear it in the front, back, or side, depending on what is comfortable, unlike short-strapped purses that always have to be tucked under the arm. It also fits well when I’m wearing my backpack; it has plenty of space if I need to pack it full for a day.
Lastly, I simply like the look of it.
On that note, style is definitely something to consider when choosing a day bag/purse for travel. A bright, shiny, leather (even if it’s fake) purse might look awfully tempting for a thief. It might be a better idea to choose something more neutral and inexpensive-looking.
Always choose one with a zipper!
What Do YOU Carry?
Do you have a favorite backpack that you would recommend to others? What about a day bag or purse that you can’t leave home without when you travel? Do you have a special wallet designated just for travel like I do?
I know I learned the hard way when it came to finding the right backpack for me, despite the “advice” of a “professional” at a store I won’t name here. I have a friend whose giant bulky wallet was stolen easily out of her purse that had a broken clip while we were standing in a crowded metro in Rome.
With a little advice and common sense, these discomforts and inconveniences can be prevented. So share with us, what packing vessels have you had success (or failures) with?