In my previous post, Finding the right bag for Travel, I wrote about my search for the perfect travel bag. I decided on the MEI Voyageur Backpack. All advice I garnered from other blogs assured me that I needed a lightweight day pack, in addition to my backpack. I looked at all the ones recommended and rejected each one for a good reason. I had spent a year using a Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bucket Bag as my daily carry in the Honolulu, and was suitably impressed with its features and durability. After a thorough inspection of Travelon’s offerings, I chose the Travelon Anti-theft Packable Backpack. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It had plenty of room for the InCase Sling Sleeve Deluxe for MacBook Pro 13” that I used to carry my 12 inch MacBook, iPad pro, Kindle, and all the related cords and stuff. I like the sling sleeve because it can double as a small briefcase. I used it a lot when I was going to conventions.
One thing that all serious travelers will warn you about is that you must pack your backpack and do carry tests, before you leave on your trip. I did a few hikes around the neighborhood, and was well satisfied with my packing. Three months before my departure, I took a practice trip to Kauai. This time I had the backpack and my daypack, packed with everything I would be traveling with as a nomad. It was way too much gear for a week on a neighbor island, but I wanted to get the feel of traveling with carry-on bags only, containing all my nomad gear. All my gear including the clothes I was wearing weighed 41.4 pounds (18.8 kilos). The bag to go into the overhead compartment weighed 24 pounds (19.9 kilos). My under the seat bag weighed in at 12.1 pounds (5.5 kilos), and I was wearing 5.3 pounds (2.4 kilos).This is far heavier than what most minimalist travelers carry, but I was hoping that it would work for me, so that I didn’t have to remove anything from my packing list.
As soon as I was out of the Lyft at the airport in Honolulu, I realized that the Travelon pack was not working. I had planned on slinging the the Travelon pack in front after placing my MEI pack on my back. That was how I carried my backpack and daypack in all my other travels. The way the harness of the MEI pack is situated and the slipperiness of the Travelon pack’s straps combined so that the Travelon straps would not stay on my shoulders. I tried several ways of carrying the Travelon pack during the trip back and forth to Kauai, without finding a solution.
When I got back from my trip I tried to find a daypack with straps that were not so slippery. There are many daypacks on the market, but I was operating under the restraint of needing to find a lightweight one, without a built-in laptop sheath. I found the Veegul Wide Open Multipurpose School Backpack Lightweight Travel Bag With Laptop Compartment. Though it was listed as having a laptop compartment, some of the reviews said it was not padded. The weight listed on Amazon at that time was okay. When I received the pack I found that even though it’s straps were not slippery, it still did not stay on my shoulders. The deal killer was when I weighed it, it weighed 6 oz more than it was listed at. I returned it to Amazon that day, for a full refund, since the description did not match what I got.
Not wanting to spend more time ordering from Amazon and sending things back, I started checking out daypacks in stores around Honolulu, with no luck. Finally I decided not to carry a daypack. In my day to day life I had replaced my daypack with a large handbag. I tested slinging my purse crossbody while wearing the MEI pack. It worked well. With that test done, I went looking for an even larger handbag, which would take advantage of all the room allotted for under-seat carriage. I wanted a bag big enough to hold all my gadgets and electronics I wouldn’t want to have in the MEI pack in case I was required to check it at some time.
Again I returned to the internet. I found many bags, which would work, but I was worried about if the weights were listed right. Taking my tiny hanging scale, I headed to the mall and started going through the luggage departments of the larger stores and visiting the luggage specialty shops. I found a few bags that were almost right. Then I found myself at the Tumi shop.
“I need a large tote bag with a shoulder strap that is lightweight and will still fit under an airplane seat,” I answered the clerk when she greeted me at the door. She walked over and picked up the Mauren Tote from VOYAGEUR collection. She looked on, amused as I took out my scale and weighed it. I inspected the tote, choking a little at the price, but decided that it would be worth it to have the perfect bag. It turned out that she didn’t have one in the back, so I agreed to buy the floor model, at a slight discount. Yes, I could have saved money buying it from Amazon, but I was getting close to leaving, and I didn’t want to risk not getting one in time.
Switching the InCase bag and the daypack for the Tumi saved me some weight. I also went through my packing list and replaced a very heavy backup battery for a lighter one. I now had the weight of all my gear down to 38 pounds (17.2 kilos). Unfortunately that didn’t include the dietary supplements I would have to pick up before going abroad.
Three weeks before I was go leave Hawaii on my adventure, I moved out of the place I had just sold and into a friends place, while she was out of town. Hummm, that makes it sound as if I were squatting, but I assure you I was there at her invitation. There were some things I wasn’t ready to put in my storage unit, which I took over on a hand cart, but I carried my travel backpack and daypack as if I were heading off island. That test went rather well.
At my friend’s place, I had time to think. I really wanted to get to the point where my luggage weighed as little as the ones I had read about on other blogs. I kept going over my list again and again looking for things I could live without. I did notice that when people brag about how light their carry on is, they don’t mention if they have an under the seat bag. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had a one and just didn’t mention it, or if they travel literally with one bag. I suppose it shouldn’t have mattered to me, but it did.