Tag Archives: luggage

A bag, in a pouch, in a bag

My Love Affair With Dorky Luggage

Rick StevesPBS travel writer and presenter Rick Steves is a lot of things. A good writer, an intelligent and passionate traveller and someone who successfully preaches to Americans that there’s a world out there (OK, Europe) that is worth not just travelling to, but really seeing and experiencing. But, no matter his qualities, I’m happy to consider him the friendly old uncle of travel writing, encouraging the emptynesters to get out there and explore. But my guilty secret is I lust after his bags. Particularly his convertible carry-on and his daypack – all sorts of cool features, the best of all of which is they’re durable but damn light. But they’re so lacking in badass cred that they ought to come with a pair of slippers and a bus pass. But the design! The practicality! However, they don’t appear to be available anywhere in Australia and Amazon, fortunately my own self image, won’t ship them to Australia.

Today The Geeky Traveller caught my eye with the Kiva Keychain Backpack, made by the same company as Rick Steves line.

Kiva Keychain Backpack 1

Kiva Keychain Backpack 2

The Kiva Key Chain Pakc is a 120 gram nylon backpack (around 40 cms x 30 x 7) that collapses into a keychain pouch roughly 10cms x 6 x 3. A great idea for a daypack or extra capacity for things picked up along the way, even if the few Amazon reviews seem to (predictably) warn that it won’t carry a whole hell of a lot of weight. Like the Rick Steves bags, Amazon will only ship to US addresses. Saved from my own unconcious yearning for naff baggage again.

All in all, I reckon Kiva are a company that deserve a more active, better, or just bigger, Australian distributor.

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Luggage Logged

Luggage TagOne of many interesting outcomes of Heathrow’s T5 scandal has been stories about the life of lost luggage. Unclaimed and untraceble luggage ultimately it finds its way to an auction house where it’s flogged and the proceeds given to charity. If the prospect of someone ‘winning’ your dirty underwear at auction doesn’t thrill you there are some interesting services promising to unite you with your baggage, no matter where it ends up.

i-track, TraceMe and GlobalBagTag all work on basically the same theory – by providing stickers or luggage tags with a unqiue serial number which register against your contact details – if your bag is found the finder contacts the company and the serial number matches the luggage with the owner. You’ll be contacted by SMS or email to let you know where your luggage ended up. Are there any real advantages over clearly labelling your luggage? Well, obviously the service allows for greater anonymity and saves having to label your luggage with an address and phone number, and you may be re-united with your luggage sooner. Beyond that, I’m not convinced that luggage tagged in this way isis any more likely to be returned than luggage which is clearly labelled with texta inside and out.

The real question mark over these services is whether they’re worth the asking price of £9 plus per bag. I’m not sure I can justify the extra cost over scrawling my name and details inside and outside my backpack which, in most situations will be sufficient to have your bag returned, but if you travel with checked luggage frequently or have very valuable items checked it may be worth your while.

How do you label your checked luggage? Let me know if you have any experiences with such services, whether or not you think they’re worth the money or any lost luggage stories!

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Tiny and Light But Worth Packing

Some things are so light and small they’re not worth leaving home without. Despite the plethora of travel aids and gizmos the best travel knickknacks are cheap, light, small and (generally) multi-use.

SarongsScarf / Bandanna / Sarong

A towel might definitively be the ‘most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have‘ but for my money, with the advent of the micro-fibre towel, this is the new champion. High fashion or improvised basket, sun hat, sheet, towel, sling (with some safety pins) and many other uses besides. Available world-wide and probably more cheaply than at home.

Light strong cord

For use as a clothes line and for securing bags in a pinch. A travel clothesline, designed to hold clothes without pegs, is a widely popular alternative but I’ve always managed to survive without one.

Zip-lock bags

Literally millions of uses – for dirty laundry, snacks, carry on liquids, keeping a travel journal dry, the list goes on. Larger bags are simple replacements for packing cubes.

Universal rubber plug / sink stopper

Cable TiesA must if you’re planning to do your own laundry. Whereas laundry powder is easy to buy most places, it’s worth buying a decent plug at home. Even if you never have to use it, it’s light and small enough to be worth packing and lugging.

Cable ties

A simple and cheap means of securing your luggage during flights – not necessarily tamper-proof but tamper-evident (as suggested by Budget Travel)

Rubber door stop

A small rubber doorstop is the simple and effective means of securing a hotel or hostel room door.

Passport PhotosSmall tupperware container

Useful if you have anything you wish to avoid crushing in your bag. In the meantime, perfect for storing most other things on this list.

Passport Photos

A few spare recent passport photos tucked away in the bottom of your bag may well save some unnecessary grief if you need a visa extension or a replacement passport.

Medicare Card

For Australians travelling to countries with reciprocal health agreements your medicare card is worth taking along.


You should ensure you always have access to:

  • Photocopy of your passport
  • Details of insurer and your policy
  • Contact details for Airlines/Lodging
  • Contact details for your consulates or embassies
  • Bank / ATM or Credit card provider contact details (especially emergency contact numbers)

Photos of your luggage (highlighting any identifying features) and any valuables you’re carrying are also worthwhile. You can keep copies of these details in paper format at the bottom of your luggage or store them or electronically – a good approach is to either email them to your web-based email account (or simply save them in a draft message) or take advantage of a free online storage site. It’s also worth leaving a copy of all of the above with a friend or family member back home.

Anything I’ve missed?

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[Sarong image via somesatellite], Cable ties image via fotocitizen, passport photos image via imperialdoghnut]

The Universal Packing List

SuitcasesLike a battered suitcase emerging from the darkness of Heatrow’s Terminal 5 the Universal Packing List seems to have returned from hell of 404. A long time favorite of mine, the site produces a customised packing based on criteria such as trip length, style, conditions, activities you intend to undertake, bag size and it its latest incarnation destination.

The script spits out some genarl before-you-go tips and a list of luaggage stuffing items based on your criteria. Specialising in useful (but space-taking and weight-adding) travel knick naks like nylon cord, a rubber door wedge for securing hostel/hotel doors (a good tip in itself) and even two-way radios the site (particularly if you choose the “I’m taking a sherpa” option) will leave you youinundated with potentially useful items you’re sure you cannot now travel without!

If you share my preference for travelling only with carry on luggage the ‘exteremly small’ size bag is a good list to start with, although it is still ripe for trimming (e.g. buying toiletries, clothes, especially t-shirts, on the road).

Got any great packing tips? Share ’em in the comments!

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[Image via Bryan Ledgard on Flickr]

You may have missed…

Tiger alleges it has suffered from anti-competitive behaviour. Ahh well, at least the airline plans on adding capacity to two of its most popular routes, Singapore-Perth and Singapore-Ho Chi Minh City.

Australia is to seek an open skies agreement with the EU ‘Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific, believes an EU-Australian open skies could be a boon for Qantas’ Jetstar in opening up new low-fare routes‘ (Via Serious Sam).

A day after the Premier labled Perth aiport an ‘embarrassment’ Westralia Airports Corporation announced a $500m upgrade. The good people of Launceston will have to make-do with $20m.

Strong winds delayed flights out of Sydney.

Australia will ratify the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention 1999).

The excellent EuroCheapo accomodation site has branched out into European airfares with Cheaposearch Flights.

The Independent has an excellent article about what actually happens to baggage after check-in and some hints about what to do if your luggage is lost. Even if you can’t be there to experience the thrills and spills of lost luggage now you can play the game! (Via TravelWeekly). A guide to Airport Transfers at Heathrow Airport may just be timely.

Speaking of luggage Gatwick has ‘finally overturned the one carry-on bag rule‘.

Financial Times has an interesting article on Jetstar in Japan and ‘ the difficulty of applying the no-frills model in Japan, a country in which fuller-than-full service is the norm’.

Beggars are to banned from Florence – if they do not remain standing.

Lonely Planet has released a new series of national park guides.

Visiting Stonehenge may soon become a good deal cheaper and well… more plastic… for Australians.

Youtoob footage of one of the world’s most dangerous airports.

You can never read too many packing tips, particularly if they happen to be good.

“We have saved Luang Prabang’s buildings, but we have lost its soul.” CNN on the effect of mass tourism in Laos.

New tourism rules at the Vatican Museums.

Independent Traveller surveys the best and worst toilets – the best I’ve experienced were at Raffles in Singapore – the Singapore Sling STILL wasn’t worth it – and suggests Budget Alternatives to Classic Destinations.

Bali is surely ripe for re-discovery by Australian travellers.

Finally, Frommers have released updates to their guidebooks for