Thinking about a new carry on

I have been doing some research on a new carry on bag.  Big Mistake!!! It has created new questions rather than answered them.  I am a strict believer in travelling light so we seldom check our bags or carry more than one bag.  (The exception is when I go to Brazil and buy so many shoes that I need an extra suitcase to carry them home.)

These are some of the questions I came up with:

-What size should I get?  Most US airlines allow up to a 22″ bag but international airlines vary so much in size that you never know until you get to the airport.  Plus some airlines make you check in your bag if it weighs more than a certain amount.  So buying something because I think it will work, might not always work.  If you have questions about sizes, here’s a handy chart.

-What features are necessary?  I was shocked to see how much some bags cost.  In the past I have been very lucky with some really cheap bags.  My daughter’s bag was one of those “fashion” bags and it has lasted years.  My husband’s as well.  Plus if we are forced to check the bags I don’t feel too bad when they get trashed or dirty.  But they have held up pretty well.  I love my Kathy Van Zeeland suitcase but I don’t think they make it anymore and the paisley floral simply won’t go too well with my husband.  So I started looking in earnest to see if I can find something affordable, durable and with a convenient size.  I am pondering on the Eagle Creek bags.  I love that they have an unconditional lifetime warranty, their sizes seem to be practical and they way they are built seem to be logical.  Plus there are some cool features like a bungee cord to carry your coat and a removable mesh holder to hold your pillow.  The only problem is that they are a bit pricey.

Another line of bags that have intrigued me is called Bago Travel bags.  They only have duffle bags and I am not sure if the sizes are good for carry ons but I am intrigued about how light weight and that they fold so compact.

Finally one big consideration is the weight.  Some suitcases weight 7 or 8 lbs empty.  I don’t want to be carrying around extra weight.

-Where to buy it from?  While the internet makes it easier to shop around, I also don’t always trust every vendor.  Sometimes you might have to pay more to get some good customer service.  In addition, I feel that so many times I am comparing apples to oranges.  Similar bags but not exact, gifts, extra charges, etc…

-Do I need any extra accessories?  I have never used packing cubes before but after seeing a suitcase packed with the Eagle Creek system, I was converted.  I couldn’t believe how much fits in the suitcase and how organized it was.  I ordered Eagle Creek’s Pack-it Specker sets.  I chose this particular style because they are so light weight and the material is supposed to be very durable.  I can’t wait to try the envelope and experiment with it.  This adds to my questions, will the packing system work well with my suitcases?  How many do I need?

I will continue the search because my want to buy a new suitcase doesn’t outweigh my need to get a good deal.

Talking about good deals I got my Specker starter set from REI in the color flame.  It’s a bright orange but it was only $27.93 while the other colors cost almost twice that much.  I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the customer service I received from REI.  They sent me an incorrect item first and then I was so touched by how they handled the situation.  They asked me that if I couldn’t use the item, to please donate it to some charity so that someone could get some good out of it.  Amazing to hear that a corporation has a heart.  Because I was so impressed with them, I ordered a second set.  I got a good deal and am going to be a loyal customer from now on.

What suitcase do you love?


Lots of layovers

I have to make a confession,  I just went on my first trip with lots of long layovers.  The first one was a 7 hour layover in Detroit. That was long but that airport was actually okay. We ate a nice lunch at the Mediterranean grill then walked a lot.  It is a very long airport perfect for getting some exercise done.  Then we sat and watched a movie thanks to the half hour free wi-if and then read.  Overall it wasn’t a terrible experience. Our next layover was in Amsterdam. I liked that airport.  It had lots of shopping, some stores had some good sales even. Then upstairs they had fake trees and birds and some really comfy chairs.  Some of them were loungers that you could sleep.  They also had bean bags and science activities for kids and some exercise equipment.  How exciting it was to see that someone thought about the comfort of us poor people who travel coach. There is also a hotel which you can use overnight or even hourly but I don’t know the prices. Finally Athens was our last layover. It was the shortest only 2 hours but I had to get luggage (Yes I did check in this time due to all the layovers) and transfer to another airline and I knew that was going to take time.  However check in was super quick and then you go into the terminal where all the shops are and you do the security right before the gate.  Weird but it was quick.

Overall it wasn’t a bad experience. I think I slept more than I usually do because I took naps in each flight, rested in each airport and got to watch a whole season of Downton Abbey on my long flight. It beats running like an Olympic athlete from one terminal to the other so I don’t miss a flight because my first flight out off Ohare was delayed.  That’s life in Chicago

Dream Search Engine

I would like for someone to develop a dream search engine for travel.  I would like to enter the dates I would like to travel, where I would like to go (it would give me an opportunity to enter more than one destination), if I mind a layover somewhere and for how long (once again with many choices).  Than this search engine would search all the possible combinations from my choices. 

Why would I like it this way?  Well, because airline pricing is really weird.  When we were planning out trip to Istanbul, Turkey it was cheaper for us to spend 3 days in Barcelona than go to directly.  The thing is that I really don’t mind spending 3 days in Barcelona so that was a bonus for me.  The price difference was substantial.  The same thing happened coming back from Greece.  It was cheaper for us to spend 3 days in Munich.  Great, I got 2 for 1.  (Two countries in 1 trip).

I would like to know why it’s cheaper for me to have 3 flights than 1.  Why is it cheaper for me to go Chicago-Madrid, Madrid-Barcelona, Barcelona-Madrid, Madrid-Istanbul than just having the layover in Madrid?  It’s 2 extra flights.  Why is it cheaper for me to go to Venice through Madrid than to just go to Madrid?  It makes no sense.

But that’s how it is and there is nothing I can do about it.  Except, I can work it to my advantage.  I can plan my trips to include some good layovers rather than just try making a connection. 

Some airlines even recognize that.  For instance Turkish Air offers a great tour of Istanbul if you have a long layover in Ataturk Airport.  I was tempted to take advantage of that offer because it was cheaper to go to Ireland through Turkey. 

If you are dreaming of a trip, than be flexible.  By working unexpected layovers into your travel plan you might get a better deal, discover a new magical place and have more adventures.  The only problem is that for now, you’ll have to do some of the legwork yourself.