The Right Bags

Published on 28 March 2023 at 00:41

I’m not a big shopper, but my one weakness is bags. In fact, my daughter frequently calls us “bag hags” because of our collections. Each time I plan a trip, I feel the urge to purchase a brand new bag. It doesn’t have to be a suitcase. Sometimes it’s a purse, or maybe a wallet, it could even be something as small as a cord holder or makeup bag. My current favorites are Vera Bradley because they are pretty, light, and easy to care for.

My last big hard-sided suitcase purchase was before our 2018 winter trip to see Caroline in Korea, when I needed something large enough to hold bulky clothing. Before my most recent trip to Europe, Courtney talked me into duffel bags. We decided to take small planes around the EU instead of trains, and needed bags small enough to meet the airline requirements. (Puddle jumpers in Europe have smaller carry-on specifications than similar planes in the USA.) And I’ve been using backpacks as part of my travels for decades, because I love them! 

Waiting for the train in Eumseong 

On my most recent trip to Korea to see my daughter Caroline, it was the peak of summer heat, so all of my clothes were light and didn’t take up much space. I was able to get by with just a backpack and a small hard-sided rolling suitcase. It was important to me that my luggage be very easy to manage because I was running with Caroline to catch planes, trains, buses, subways, and taxis. On my upcoming trip to see her, I’ll once again be responsible for keeping up with my bags while traveling around, so it’s good that the weather will be mild enough for me to take the same small suitcase and the tote bag that went to Europe. 

Relaxing in beautiful Cadaqués 

So why did I switch from my tried-and-true backpack to a tote bag? To start with, I still use a backpack to carry my clothes for short trips when a suitcase feels like too much, or when I fly an airline that charges for carry-ons. But as a personal item in addition to a suitcase, carrying important items like my documents and chargers, I have learned that my tote bag is as convenient as my beloved backpacks. The one I use has a zip top, a pouch for my iPad, and a zipper on the back so that can make one of the pockets into a sleeve for the handle of my rolling bag. Since retirement, I’ve traveled with an iPad instead of a computer, and found that the tote bag was the right fit for carrying the smaller device. Courtney liked my tote bag so much for our day trips in Europe, she bought one for herself when she saw it on sale a few weeks after we got home!

Leaving Seoul with my one extra bag!

It has happened once or twice that I packed so tightly on the way TO a destination that I didn’t have enough room for the additional things I was bringing BACK. On my last trip to Korea, I needed extra space for souvenirs, so I ended up buying another small bag to take on the plane and checked my rolling bag. I prefer to carry my bags with me to avoid potential delays on the way to my destination, but don’t mind checking them on the way home.

Ultimately, I decide which bags to take based on how long I’ll be somewhere, what the climate and weather will be like, and how I plan to get around. My largest suitcase only comes out for lengthy trips and very cold weather, when fewer clothes take up far more space, and for my shortest weekend trips I still reach for one of my backpacks. Long story short: when choosing a bag, options are great and the lighter, the better! Choose wisely!

Tilly, my bag inspector