The Always Evolving and Partially Unwritten Five-Year Plan

Posts tagged “Packing Tips

My Review of Commute 2.0 Messenger

With all the travel we’ve done over the past couple years, we’ve managed to pick up several handy packing and travel tips (like using space saver bags!). Each trip is sort of a challenge for me to try to find some new element to help us simplify and travel lighter, easier, cheaper, etc. This bag below has been my best friend whether for daily commutes, or as my carry-on luggage for weekend trips. If our trip is 3-4 nights or under, I won’t check a bag and instead will only take this guy with me as my carry-on. People we travel with are often amazed at how little I bring, “where’s your other bag? That’s it?!?” Even for a 3-night triathlon weekend to Phuket, I packed only this bag and a bike box.

This timbuk2 bag, coupled with an Eagle Creek Cube, has been my go-to whether trekking to a new city/country for a few days, packing for a long day of working out with a variety of gear, or just commuting to the office. I’ve cycled to the boathouse, where I rowed and coached crew, followed by a swim at the pool and a bike ride home…with all the appropriate changes of clothes, food, and water at my fingertips. I’ve used this combo for a 1-2 night business trip over a weekend with room for my suit and laptop. Finally, it is also the perfect size for that 3-4 night casual trip as well on an adventure to a new land with my honey. When at home, it is my office on the go as I can easily carry my laptop and files, papers, general stuff…no problem. I can’t say enough about the timbuk2 bag, and when needed…the EC cube as a companion item.

Since I benefited greatly from reviews about both items before purchasing, I had to pay it forward and write one myself. I typically don’t do this as much as I should, but these two deserved it. Here’s the one for the messenger bag…

Originally submitted at Timbuk2

An updated Commute that’s TSA-compliant.

I Use it Everyday

By World Traveler from All over SE Asia and USA on 5/2/2012
5out of 5

Pros: High Quality, Good Strap Length, Easy Access, Great Color, Good Organization, Attractive

Best Uses: Computer, Commuting, Traveling, Office

Describe Yourself: Modern, Career, Practical

Was this a gift?: No

I almost settled for a cheaper messenger/laptop bag because of the price of timbuk2. I’m so glad I took that cheaper bag back because I use my timbuk2 everyday and love it. It’s great for basically giving me my office on the go with plenty of storage for laptop, files, etc. I do wish there was a separate compartment for computer cords, but it’s a minor minor thing. I also have used this bag for overnight or even up to 3-4night trips by using a space saver bag and/or another zip-up organizer that slips inside my commuter 2.0. I don’t normally take the time to come back and give reviews, but I’ve been meaning to do this one for a long time because I’ve had this bag 15mths, literally use daily and it looks new. Can’t wait to have the need for another one. I will say, however, the whole TSA selling point thing is disappointingly inaccurate. Or at least TSA peeps didn’t get the memo. 90% of the time I still have to take the laptop out. Bummer, but overall not a biggie. I just wouldn’t put it in the features anymore…or launch some sort of a TSA training effort to spread the word. All in all, highly recommend this bag. It’s awesome. Period. Keep it up guys, and thank you!


How do You Pack for Two Years in Three Bags

With most airlines limiting passengers to one carry-on bag and two checked items, we felt a little overwhelmed by the task of packing all of the life belongings we would need for two years in a foreign country, into just three little bags.  (Must have been akin to how some of the SARC varsity women felt while packing for the weekend trip to the Head of the Charles last fall — You know who you are!)  Then there’s the weight limit, so even with the space saver bags, skillful and selective packing and a little (read: sitting on the suitcase to zip up) cramming, meeting the bag limit doesn’t save you from the excess weight fees.

While packing I remember that sinking feeling that I was forgetting something and yet at the same time the sense that I was bringing so much stuff “just in case”.  Thankfully we were packing for only one climate (perpetual summer in KL), because if we had to include sweaters, coats and jeans…I don’t know what we would have done.  Even packing for just warm weather was tough enough!

Once it was all zipped up and accounted for, here’s what it looked like — what we thought we would need / get by on / successfully bring with us…for two years (and I thought packing for 4 months was hard while studying abroad in college):

Our Luggage, Ready to Depart Atlanta for Kuala Lumpur

At the first Delta counter, we were informed by a less-than-friendly clerk that our total fees for one excess bag, and two excess weight fees would be $600.  Yikes!  We were expecting to pay something, but with multiple calls to Delta and Singapore Air, and lots of web surfing on the issue we could not get a consistent answer of the amount of the fees and whether we’d be subject to Delta’s rules (our airline from Atlanta to Houston) or those of Singapore Air (Houston to Singapore).  Still, $600 seemed high.

So we repacked right there in the airport, moving items around to redistribute weight and minimize the fees.  Then we also decided to try a different counter/clerk on principal alone that the first guy was downright rude.  Meanwhile, I also found a discrepancy on the airline’s website (thank you, iPhone) and brought it to the attention of the 2nd clerk.  He was very nice, helpful and while very understanding…also could not give a definitive answer about whose fees would apply and for how much.  Finally, after several calls and lots of waiting he calculated the lowest possible combination based on published fees, which totaled $217!  We were happy to pay a third of the original number.  (Travel Tip #1: Avoid ridiculous fees by doing your homework and arguing your case. Don’t settle for the first answer.)

Our clerk then handed us our boarding passes…oh, about 5 minutes or so before check-in for that flight closed!  So we hurried to the parking garage, and took a few minutes to say good-bye to Dennis, Martha and Henry who drove us to the airport…

Henry with Mom & Dad

Henry & The Gilberts

…and headed back through security and to our gate, unaware of the adventure awaiting us and our bags.

(To Be Continued…)