I’ve been all kinds of busy preparing to leave for Italy and the U.S. Some parts of preparation are loads of fun (scouring through online travel guides of Italy, mani/pedis in fun vacation colors, pre-vacation shopping) and other parts are just horrible (endless laundry, strategic packing, exchanging currency). Even after doing this kind of thing a thousand times (living abroad has meant a ridiculous amount of travelling) it can be stressful, so I decided to document part of my process – how I pick my travel bags!
Bags are a passion of mine, I just love them. And while I’d love to bring all my bags with me on a trip, I always limit myself to four: a large suitcase, a carry-on suitcase, a tote bag, and a small purse. Here’s how I’m selecting which bags to bring to Italy.
Your small purse is the purse you’ll probably be carrying around while travelling. It should fit your wallet, phone, some sanitary items (tissue, hand sanitizer, chapstick), and a small camera. This purse should be light, easy to carry, and have some form of cover or zipper to discourage pickpockets.
(from L to R: Marc Jacobs Mini Stam, vintage cross body Coach bag, vintage suede Coach camera bag)
These three bags are all about right, but only one is perfect for my purposes. The Marc Jacobs bag, while beautiful, is a bit too fancy and cumbersome be to wearing while traipsing across Italy. The Coach camera bag has the right idea, but it’s a bit too small. So, I’ll choose the vintage cross body Coach bag!
For similar cross body styles try Macy’s or Shopbop. Brands that I like in particular are Marc by Marc Jacobs, MICHAEL Michael Kors, and Lauren by Ralph Lauren – they have great quality cross body bags for under $200.
A tote will be the bag you carry on the plane and when you need to carry all your stuff. Ideally, your travel tote should be large, light, and easily stored into a suitcase. Your tote should be able to fit you wallet, sanitary items, camera (even a large DSLR), books, a sweater, and a laptop/ipad if you’re bringing either on your trip.
(Clockwise from top left Chanel Coco Cocoon Tote, Longchamp Le Pliage Large Tote, Louis Vuitton Speedy, Lucky Brand Suede Tote)
All of these bags are great travel bags. Fun Bag Trivia: the Louis Vuitton Speedy was designed for Audrey Hepburn. She wanted a bag that she could easily fold into a suitcase when she travelled. However, that’s the first bag I’m eliminating from my tote choices because it doesn’t have a long strap that I can wear on my shoulder. Totes can get heavy and I want to option of just slinging my bag over my shoulder. Second to go is the Lucky Brand because it doesn’t have a zipper, I like all my travel bags to be zippered (just in case).
The Chanel is large and light as a feather, but I’m hesitant about bringing very pricey items when I travel. Bags always get slung around and rubbed up on things when I’m travelling, I don’t want to have to be extra careful on my tote on my trip. So, I’m going to go with the Longchamp, which is the perfect travel tote because it’s designed to fold up! If you’re looking to buy a travel tote, I highly recommend the Longchamp Le Pliage bag. It’s durable (people in France use them to carry groceries), easy to clean, folds up nicely, and comes in all sorts of colors and designs. And the price, at $145 for a basic large Le Pliage tote, isn’t bad at all.
A carry-on bag must first and foremost fit in the overhead compartments on planes. This shouldn’t be a problem as this is a common suitcase size. A carry-on should fit a laptop, sweater, scarf, extra pair of shoes, makeup bag, books, and any other overflow from your large suitcase. It should also be able to fit all the items you would need for a short vacation (anything shorter than a week). I never bring a large suitcase on short vacations, I just bring a carry-on. It saves you energy and time because you don’t have to check your bag/wait for your check bag after you land. Also, when choosing a carry-on, make sure it has wheels.
I’ve had this colorful Betsey Johnson Betseyville carry-on for years. I got it for $70 at a TJ Maxx my freshman year of college and it’s been my travel companion ever since. I would highly recommend you check out your local discount stores (TJ Maxx, Loehmann’s, Neiman Marcus Last Call, etc.) for carry-on bags. They always have high quality brands for low prices, keep a special eye out for Betseyville, Samsonite, and Polo Ralph Lauren.
If you’re looking to make an investment on your carry-on luggage, I highly recommend Tumi. My parent’s luggage is all Tumi and the quality and design is impeccable. Tumi prices are steep (anywhere from $250 to $1000), but the luggage will last you a lifetime.
A large suitcase should be just that: large! It should fit everything you need for any vacation. It should have a relatively light base weight (weight when it’s empty) so you can easily stay under the weight limit for checked bags (50 pounds on most airlines). Also, when choosing a large suitcase, test out the wheels and make sure the suitcase is easy to maneuver. I recommend buying a suitcase that has 4 bottom wheels that move in 360º that way you have two movement options: 1) dragging it and 2) pushing it along on its 4 wheels.
I purchased my large red Samsonite luggage at a Samsonite outlet years and years ago. I absolutely love this luggage. It’s been on countless trips with me and never let me down. I definitely recommend buying a large suitcase from a specialized luggage company like Samsonite, TravelPro, or Tumi. You want your luggage to last a long time and these companies have great quality guarantees and warrantees. You can get good deals at outlets, department store sales, or online.
So those are the bags I’m bringing to Italy! Come back next time to Danqing’s Closet, when I talk about creating the perfect airplane outfit!
Read Full Post »