Monday, January 12, 2015

The Perfect Carryon

I have two trips coming up, and I need a carryon bag.

A good carryon, a perfect carryon, a nice carryon, that, if it rolls, does so smoothly, and if it is to be carried, does not make my one shoulder permanently two inches lower than the other before I get to the Made in Oregon store on Concourse C.

So I need advice.  What sort of carryon do you like best? And why?

I almost always fly Southwest, as bags fly free, so I don't try to carry a week's clothing and dental floss in my carryon bag.  I check my suitcases, which are usually 1/3 clothes for the trip and 2/3 walnuts for Dad or books for a signing, or, in this case, the triple crock pot arrangement that Steven got Matt for Christmas.  And that didn't fit in his carryon.

So.  It needs to hold:
a laptop computer in a padded case
a blanket (important)
a water bottle
a notebook or two
a book or two
a few magazines
all the mission newsletters I save up for reading en route
a neck pillow
a little teapot and teacup and tea bags [indulge me here]

I have a smallish crossbody bag for things like my ID, earplugs, money, etc.

If I fly, it's always a long-distance, all-day ordeal.  No short hops and I'm there.  Often the first leg is several hours to Phoenix or Denver, then a few hours of waiting, then another flight to Dulles or Minneapolis.

And of course flying overseas takes three times as long.

I like carryon bags that I can stick under the seat in front of me, since we vertically challenged people find it hard to hoist bags into the overhead bins, and I like to access my stuff en route.  But that's not absolutely essential.

At times I've used Paul's nice rolling computer bag. It's great for flat things like notebooks and computers, and bad for round things like teacups and bulky things like a blanket.

Those miniature suitcases hold all my things but they're hard to slide under the seat or access en route.

If that's what you use, do you prefer soft sides or hard?  Two wheels or four?

Do I want a backpack?

 A rolling backpack despite the housewife-returning-to-college look?

 Or one of those big Vera-Bradley-esque oversized purses?  Or are they too heavy to haul around?

Or maybe a basic duffel bag?

Or does your basic tote bag work best?  Some of them are really cute, such as this one featuring a cat who can sympathize with my SAD.

I'd love to know what works for you.

Quote of the Day:
Me: [reading a piece of paper lying near the computer] "Fire-Breathing Rubber Duckies??"
Ben: It's the name of my design team.  Not my idea, but some suggestions were rather perverted, so I preferred that.
Me: Indeed.


  1. I always have several small children with me, so thoughts of survival rather than efficiency usually take precedence. :-) Let me know what you discover though, as just last year alone I went to 8 countries and Nick 13.

  2. I always say backpack because I really prefer my hands free. I like to have a little one shoulder bag for my ID, as you said, because I have to check one my passport about every five minutes in case I have misplaced it or it has gone walk about. This has never actually happened but its like a security blanky. I also like a backpack because I can perch in the edge of a seat while I wait for the rest of the party, as I am always trotting ahead of the line in case someone needs to hold the plane for the kids, even though it's three hours to take off. I am also least likely to snack someone with a backpack as I am scrambling to get into it when a random stranger needs a kleenex or breath mint. :) For you, whom I assume are not slightly neurotic when going places, I would say the best reason is that you can hold your tea and be able to jump and run when boarding is called.

  3. Great question! I just returned from MN via Denver and used a typical roller carry-on but I'm hoping you'll get a better suggestion. One tip about the blanket--I use a pashmina-type scarf, folded into a zip-lock bag. It has just enough weight to feel warm in use but not bulky to pack.
    Sue R.

  4. I like my rolling backpack ... didn't realize it looked like a housewife returning to college!! :) You can get some really cute-looking ones. It has gone with me for a long time and even Rick says, "What would we do without that thing?" I like that it can fit under the seat in front of me, has wheels or over-the-shoulder straps and has pockets to keep things organized. I think you could easily get your list of things into it! Not sure about that crockpot thing you wanted to take along though! ;) Renita R.

  5. I use a smallish duffel bag, that has both a shoulder strap and handles, so that I can carry it a couple of different ways. Because of the shape, it doesn't take up much room in the overhead bin, so long as you put it in end first; because of the soft sides, it squashes well; and because it zips, nothing falls out, the way it might from a tote. Oh, and it has side pockets for things like pens and passports and chewing gum.

  6. When we went to Thailand last fall we researched lots of bag options. We decided on two and absolutely loved them both.

    If you want to get tons of stuff into one, the Cabin Max was the BEST:

    I kept packing more and more stuff into it and every time I was sure it was full it still zipped easily and I could put more into it. It is extremely lightweight to begin with and maximizes your luggage weight/space. And it is made to fit most airline carry-on dimensions.

    You might like this one, though, which was our other choice and we really liked it:
    It is really cool because you can either put it on your back, or you can pull out a handle and roll it. The other thing I loved about it is that it's front has a zip on smaller backback. So you can zip it on to the carry on to roll them both along, but when you get on the plane you can unzip the little backpack and use it as a personal bag. You may even be able to pack a laptop right into that bag.

    Hope you find something that you like! When we were in Thailand visiting the Yoders we went to a small group meeting hosted by your gracious daughter. :) And these luggage bags served us extremely well for 2 1/2 weeks exploring SE Asia.

  7. Back in the good old days when I could check two bags free with any airline, I learned to like a back-pack on wheels. I especially liked that I could stash it under the seat in front of me instead of hoisting it overhead. I usually rolled it, but I could wear it for escalators, etc. --LRM

  8. I just found your post on altering sleeves that bug you - you're a life saver. :)
    I'm personally a backpack kind of girl, or at least a large bag with a strap that goes across my body rather than just one shoulder.
    If you go with a tote bag, may I suggest one that zips shut? I spilled one once on a flight to Australia, and while the plane was big, it was not big enough to go crawling around after all of the silly little stuff that rolled out of it when it got knocked over :). Also don't want anybody walking away with your teacups...

  9. You could try my son's method. He would stuff everything in one leg of a pair of jeans and be off.

  10. Whatever you get, I suggest NOT getting something that rolls. The mechanism adds weight and removes storage space from the piece of luggage itself. I guess they don't weigh carry-ons, but I've found I can pack a lot more into a duffel or shopping bag. Suggest, as another commenter said, that you get a bag that zips.