I leave for France tomorrow. It will be the first trip in probably 15 or more years that I will be traveling with a new bag. Previously I had an incredible and strange looking duffle/backpack/roll-aboard hybrid. It was not a standard size but it would probably compare to the 24" roll-aboards of today. Amazingly, it came as a two-bag set that my family got from Sam's Club for about $35. Two bags for $35 or $40?!? Rejoice! My beloved was the smallest of the two. There were two smallish pockets on the front. Two huge pockets running lengthwise along the sides and one big main compartment. I can't tell you how great these were. Shoes, jackets, and liquids all went in the long pockets so they were completely separate from any clothing. It has taken over ten years of throwing this thing around for it to finally start getting some small holes in the pockets. And after two years of trying to find space for it on European trains I've decided to put the old girl out to pasture. If we weren't traveling on a train this trip to France--we leave tomorrow!--I would have considered getting her fixed up for perhaps the next 10 years. I will probably do this at some point because the bag is just too awesome to give up completely, but train travel is a game changer.
Often you have just a few minutes to hop on and your bag better be pretty light, small, and easily stuffable. On our last train trip in France, there were bags everywhere. Most were shoved in whatever baggage area was available and then, when that was overflowing, they were left in pile the back of the car. A motley crew of luggage.
Frankly, I'd had enough of lugging heavy roller based bags onto trains and having nowhere to shove them once I got on. I've also become even more tired of only ending up wearing 50% at the most of what I bring. Seeing as my beloved bag was becoming hole-y, it was time for a change.
So this trip I will be traveling with a MEC Walkabout travel pack. It's a 46L backpack that has a shoulder strap and a detachable 18L daypack. The backpack straps all zip up so it can also be carried with a shoulder strap and look more like a regular piece of luggage. Ultimately, I think it will make traveling easier because I'm being forced to pack less and I have a lighter, easier to shove-into-places bag.
I'm finishing up packing tonight and starting to freak out a little bit. How can I possibly fit everything I need? The thing is, I know I don't need everything I think I need. I'm learning to become ruthless about culling my wardrobe thanks to the OneBag site. I know in the end it will be freeing to be an even lighter packer.
I'll let you know how it goes after the trip is over. Wish me luck!
Do you have any packing tips/tricks? Let me know.