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For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

Keep Calm And Carry-On Luggage

Carry-on luggage

The week before last, I attended a conference for women in finance where I was absolutely delighted to receive a Lipault Weekender bag. In a fine show of generosity the bag was actually the sponsors goodie bag – a definite step up from the standard cloth bag that normally graces that sort of event.

Now I have to tell you that I was fairly excited when I realised that every delegate was receiving a Lipault bag because I’d been coveting one for quite a long time. I’d first discovered the brand via Susan at une femme d’un certain âge and every now and then I’ve wandered into a Lipault store for a little browse.

The only thing that stopped me taking my browsing a step further was the fact that we don’t have any more room to store luggage in our home! I mean, how much luggage does a girl need?

My new bag looks like it will be just perfect for ‘carrying-on’ to the plane, potentially replacing the Tumi tote bag I’ve used for the last few trips. It is roomy and has a clever frame that allows it to stand up and hold itself open. It also has a sleeve that allows it to attach to my roller case (also carry-on sized, but I check it so I don’t have to worry about weight or liquid volumes) – making it ideal for use as a ‘personal item’ bag.

But this recent addition to the luggage collection did get me reflecting on the fact that I generally find ‘the perfect’ personal item bag every two years or so. Turns out, I’m quite unfaithful in this space – I’ve loved and left so many!

It probably has something to do with the fact that I consider a well stocked personal item bag essential to surviving long haul trips from Australia to France.

Given this, I thought I’d take a moment to run through the pros and cons of the various styles of personal item luggage, just in case anyone out there is looking to try something new on their next trip.

  1. The backpack. Seemingly favoured by males, our son included, the backpack is handy for when you need your hands free. With that in mind, it might be useful if you are travelling with small kids or if your main case is quite heavy. The numerous pockets are also helpful for keeping all your little bits and pieces organised. On the downside, the ‘vertical’ nature of backpacks can make them a nightmare if you need to fish anything out as you go through airport security. They are sometimes difficult to secure, which can make them problematic if you are travelling in any dodgy areas or need to check the pack in for your flight home.
  2. The ultra-light roller case. I used this option a couple of times while we were still travelling with packs rather than cases. A small case is roomy enough to fit all you’ll need to ensure a comfortable flight. And it is great for protecting any fragile souvenirs on your flight home. Unfortunately, it is kind of cumbersome if you need to retrieve anything in the middle of your flight and doesn’t really work if the rest of your luggage is on wheels. I always find trying to manage two wheelie bags is an experience similar to herding cats!
  3. The tote bag. My current preferred option, although I must say I am rather fussy. An ideal tote bag needs to contain enough pockets to ensure that you don’t end up in a jumbled mess by the end of the flight – there is nothing worse than trying to fish out your documents at passport control with half a plane load of people staring impatiently at you. It also needs to zip up to keep all of your bits and pieces personal and secure. Ideally it will attach itself to the rest of your luggage in case you don’t feel like slinging it over your shoulder. Which reminds me, look for a tote bag with long straps, just in case you are feeling contrary and do want to carry it over your shoulder!

Do you have a favourite item of carry on luggage? What do you look for in a ‘personal item’ bag? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

And until next time – au revoir.

Please note – this is an unsolicited post and not compensation of any kind has been received from the brands named in the post.


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