Above, dressed for long-haul comfort:
cardigan (similar) | tee | jeans | handbag (similar) | sneakers (similar) | cabin bag | suitcase (similar)
First, I knew I was going to want a larger, hard-sided checked bag, in case we pick up some wines, vinegar, etc. along the way. And I brought just a little more clothing, as we’ll be changing destination every 2-3 days and probably won’t have time for laundry. The larger spinner bag is an older Briggs & Riley Sympatico medium size (current version HERE). Mine is not expandable, and I used about half the available space.
(Last minute wardrobe changes: after checking the forecast one last time before we left, I decided to take a lighter down jacket rather than the down coat, and a pair of walking loafers rather than the rain boots. I also ditched one pair of jeans, one of the sweaters, and added a short-sleeve tee.)
My new cabin bag, the Mother Lode, Jr.
I’ve been wanting to try a backpack as cabin bag, and this one was well-reviewed. I’d originally ordered one for le Monsieur to replace an older and very heavy hand-held cabin bag. I liked his so much I ordered one for myself as well.
After two flights, and lots of shlepping in airports, I’m quite pleased with this bag!
First, it’s very well designed for organization.
- The main compartment is quite large, with two compression straps.
- There are three outside pockets, and a padded laptop compartment.
- The largest outside pocket has additional zippered compartments inside.
- The main compartment opens like a regular suitcase, so it’s easy to pack and find things inside.
The Mother Lode Jr. backpack holds quite a bit! I didn’t even pack mine anywhere near capacity*, as I wanted to keep the weight down. It goes easily into overhead bins, and le Monsieur was able to fit his under the seat in front for one of our flights. There are the shoulder straps, of course, and two padded handles to carry vertically or horizontally.
What I did pack in the carry-on:
- a change of clothes
- toiletries kit
- travel documents
- charging cords
- TSA liquids bag
- my en cas snacks (a couple of protein bars)
- extra masks
The size in the top photo is deceiving; the bag was closer to the camera and so looks larger than it actually is. 😉 📸
Here’s a better photo to show the actual size. For reference, I’m 5’1″. It was comfortable to wear as a backpack, and easy to get in and out of.
Today’s travel challenges, and how I’d pack differently
When I first published this article in the fall of 2021, we were traveling to Italy with many Covid restrictions still in place. We were required to have negative tests at various travel points, and masking was required both in transit and in many indoor spaces.
Now, with most travel restrictions lifted, more people are traveling again and encountering a new set of challenges. When we were in France and the UK in April, it was not yet peak travel season but we could already see some strains on the system.
Some lines at the airport to check in and/or check bags were quite long. I was glad that we’d allowed several hours for a connecting flight at Heathrow, as we had to claim and re-check our bags. We were in line for almost 90 minutes to check in for our connecting flight (which we hadn’t been able to do online).
For the last several weeks, news outlets have been full of stories of delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, and other travel SNAFU’s. Many of the problems seem to be due to staffing challenges with airline and support personnel. Travel can be a hassle in the best of times, but even more so now.
So if I were traveling at this point, I’d go back to carry-on only packing. And though I’d be sure to pack toiletries, medications, a change of clothing in my “Personal Item” (under the seat) bag in case I was forced to gate check my main bag. (If not packed to bursting, Mother Lode Jr. backpack does fit under the seat.)
Style and travel updates
It’s been my experience that some of you love both style and travel posts, while others are primarily here for the style. I’m trying a new process for my subscribers to filter which email updates you receive, based on your preferences.
If you’d like to opt in or out of travel updates, you can click on the “update subscription preferences” link at the bottom of my emails. Click to be sent a form to select your preferences, then select either Yes or No for travel content. (If no selection is made, you’ll receive all updates.)
This is a new setup, so I appreciate your patience while we refine the process!