I have too many suitcases. Usually because I pack poorly and end up having to buy more suitcases in order to get all my stuff home. In the last 12 months I have flown quite a bit! I learned to improve how I packed and below goes through some of my different combinations!
Domestic or European Travel
For a one or two night stay where you’re travelling and don’t want check luggage, I have found this to be the best combination of luggage. My Longchamp duo!
My standard handbag is usually a navy Le Pliage large shopper, purchased from Selfridges here. It’s not large enough for clothing, but you can carry a laptop, headphones, phone, book- everything you need for a flight. For my luggage however, I used the “Le Pliage Personalised” service from Longchamp. I wanted a large bag (Size 4), but I wanted long handles: this is not a standard option as bag size 4 usually comes with short carry handles. Through this service, you can design your Le Pliage: the colour, the metal work- even any initials and monograms. It takes around 2-3 weeks to arrive, but that makes sense as they are creating your bag, to your design. I selected navy with a navy centre stripe (you can select a contrasting colour) and gold metal work. The combination of the larger bag with the longer handles has been perfect for me! Their “Le Pliage Personalised” service is great, and definitely taps into the “personalisation” trend! It is available in the UK here and in the US here.
Transatlantic with Hand Luggage
My favourite flight (yes, I know…that’s weird) to take to Chicago is the 12.35pm BA flight: it gets you to Chicago at around 3pm meaning there is enough time to get a cab into the city, get changed and head back out for the evening: the perfect way to stop any jetlag. However, the downside of this flight is that there are a lot of international flights arriving at O’Hare around 3pm, and immigration can take a while. There is a way around it though: the clever people at O’Hare created a kind of “peel off” lane for immigration if you don’t have any checked luggage to pick up. It is fast and convenient and I frequently use it. So, I had to learn how to travel across the Atlantic with just hand luggage.
I have two different luggage combinations I use in this situation. The first is a Cath Kidston cabin bag combined with the personalised Le Pliage as a handbag. This Cath Kidston bag has been through the mill with me! It is designed to be cabin sized approved, and I was given it many years ago when the cabin bag restrictions first changed. (From checking their website, it looks like they no longer make it!) It has a long and a short carry handle, is made of oil cloth, which is very resilient and you can fit a LOT of stuff in it! There are 2 warnings: I did manage to snap the metal buckle on one of the carry straps when in an airport. It’s ok- I visited one of those luggage stores and purchased a padlock to temporarily fix it. Well, I say “temporarily”. I lost the key. So it has remained this way since 2011. It does the job though! The second is that, whilst this bag is cabin size approved, if you over pack it, the sides can bulge. This means that, if you do get somebody who wants you to fit it in the little metal size cage at security, you sometimes have to do some rearranging. This has only happened to me once, during Christmas travel where they have to be all over this stuff. I just moved a couple of things around and it fitted and I was allowed through! Travel bags from Cath Kidston can be found here.
My other combination, if I am feeling especially lazy and want to pull my luggage, rather than carry, is this teeny weeny rolling suitcase (for the bargain price of £14.99! It can be found in the US for $21.99 here) along with the personalised Le Pliage. It isn’t as spacious as the Cath Kidston cabin bag, but I discovered a little trick a few years ago when I had to pack for a quick change over in Vietnam to get to Malaysia: vacuum bags. I know this isn’t new news, but it was to me. These are vacuum bags where you don’t need a vacuum to suck the air out of them: you simply place the clothes in a bag, zip them up until nearly closed and then roll the air out of them. They work well to help you get your luggage closed. Often, when you open them at the other end, the air has escaped, but the objective is to get all the stuff in the bag, and the bag zipped up! They’re available for £4.74 in the UK here or $18.99 in the US here.
Transatlantic with Checked Luggage
If I have to check luggage because I am staying a while, or I am carrying cosmetics that are over the limit, my favourite suitcase that I own is this Z Frame. It is lightweight, spacious, fairly small and it does the thing that I love from good, wheeled cases: it wheels next to you, rather than behind. This saves on that horrible arm pain you get the next day from lugging a heavy bag along travelators. Again, I pair this with the personalised Le Pliage or the standard Le Pliage shopper.
I love the Target/Orla Kiely tie up. One of the things I really liked was their 3 purse set (which, unfortunately, I cannot find on their website at the moment). They have a small loop on the side, which I tied together, but I use these bags to hold things in my Le Pliage. Otherwise, they all just sink to the bottom: the large one holds USB cables and chargers and plugs, the middle one has my Kindle and phones (I am constantly losing them in the depths of my bag) and the small one my passport and boarding pass. It just saves on that embarrassing bit at the gate when you are turning your life out onto a cold, tiled floor!
After making the mistake a few times of having to purchase extra luggage, I discovered these Samsonite Tote-a-Ton bags. They roll up really small, and then expand to huge 33″ duffel bags. For those time when I fly with hand luggage, but may return with more (e.g. Christmas gifts, or when I was moving back the UK bit-by-bit!), these are great. A much recommended purchase. They are available in the US for $24.99 here and £29.99 in the UK here.
I get a lot of stick for my J pillow, and amongst my friends it has a couple of nick names. However, I don’t care! This pillow is great! Winner of British Invention of the Year (as it says on Amazon), the design gives neck and chin support, as well as a pillow for the back and the side of the head. I then simply popper this to the handbag and use it for any overnight, economy flights. Conveniently for me, it comes in navy blue- so it ties in nicely with everything else! It is available in the UK on Amazon here for £14.95 and in the US on Amazon here for $29.95.