Vacation in a vacation

We’re planning to ride the Eurostar to London from Paris one day on our upcoming trip. The plan is to get there early afternoon, snoop about, eat Indian food til we explode, stay in a hotel then get up the next day and do one of those hop on/hop off tours until it is time to get back to Paris via St. Pancras station.

Being a packing nerd, I was up for this challenge (I hate carrying a lot of stuff and we’ll need to carry everything with us after we check out of the hotel that morning.)

I’ll be carrying my Pacsafe Slingsafe 300 GII and my pouch purse

I so adore this bag. Super comfy to carry, RFID pocket, slash resistant straps and securable zippers. Peace of mind in backpack form. Pretty much when I travel I have a pouch purse for easy storage of coins and phone and then a backpack for the day’s needs. These two together are THE BUSINESS I tell you…

Here’s what I have in my bag:
1. umbrella
2. In my dopp kit:


*I found some teeny tiny soap containers at Daiso that hold a Ligett’s travel shampoo bar and my travel sized Dove bar. Moreover, they fit in the travel zip pouch from Ligett’s that you can get perfectly.  

3. clothes in zip pouch (just the middle sized one):


**depending on how warm it is, I might just take one merino shirt. They don’t smell generally and if I’m not sweating I probably will be ok. Though I’m a messy Indian food eater, I might need to take another one anyway πŸ˜‰

4. Travel electronics:

All told it weighs about 5 or 6 pounds, (more with a water bottle in there). I’m ready for London!

SIM gadgety thing

Since I’m getting ready for Paris, thought I’d make certain that if I need to get a SIM there for my phone, I’d have a decent place to store my home SIM. I also dig the credit card form factor so I can store it in my travel wallet.


  • Compact, slim design that will fit in most wallets for optimal portability. Convenient screen cleaner with a microfiber cloth to remove debris and clean dirty surfaces
  • MicroSD/TF Card (up to 32GB) reader and storage bay. SIM Card ejection tool and storage area for swapping and exchanging SIM Cards
  • Backwards compatible with USB 1.1. Supported Operating Systems: Windows XP or later / Mac OS 10.0 or Later / Linux 2.4 or later
  • USB Micro-B for sync and charge of mobile devices, at USB 2.0 speeds (up to 480Mbps)
  • Compatible with Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge/S6/S6 Edge/S5/Grand Prime, Note Series, G4/G3, Moto G/X/E, Nokia Lumia Series, Android Micro USB Port Devices and Dual Sim Smartphones

Organizing my travel stuff day

(I swear this is not a shrine to Tom Bihn πŸ˜‰ )

Bags (from left to right):

1. Pacsafe Citysafe CS300 GII Anti-Theft Backpack

2. Tom Bihn SideKick and Tom Bihn Daylight Backpack

3. Tom Bihn Co-Pilot

4. Tom Bihn Synapse 25

5. Tom Bihn Aeronaut 30

On end: misc Tom Bihn stuff sacks

Below, right: Tom Bihn Night Flight Travel Duffle sitting on top of sunset orange Lug Puddle Jumper
In an effort to curb my wants for MOAR TRAVEL STUFFS I decided to gather my travel gear together to clear out any unnecessary duplication and be ready for my next trip.

I used a shoe organizer on the side of a portable coat rack to corral travel wallets, travel pill carriers, wet kits (liquid shampoo etc), dry kits (shampoo bars, toothpowder, etc), packable purses or day packs, and journals ready for filling with adventures. 

(I don’t have my travel clothes hung up here as I have a good amount of wool based stuff so I keep them in an air locked bin with cedar and lavender to discourage the critters. )

Also, very important to leave space on top of a bin for a cat to crawl in and not wreak total havoc. πŸ™‚

Do you fly Spirit airlines?

They recently changed their personal item size.
For Travel April 4, 2017 & Beyond:

Personal item (e.g., purse, small backpack, etc.): Dimensions must not exceed 18 x 14 x 8 inches (45 x 35 x 20 cm) including handles and wheels.

So a good portion of those underseat wheelies touted as Spirit friendly seem to be out of the running. Though it looks like Boarding Blue is on  top of it! their updated BoardingBlue Spirit Airlines Personal Item Under Seat bag meets the specs (don’t expand it though, it will exceed the measuring box).

Features (from Amazon’s website)

  • size-Zipped-In : 16″x12″x8″ ideal for Spirit, Frontier, Jetblue, America Airlines
  • Multiple pockets for travel accessories, including charger, Ipad, water bottle, ticket, etc
  • Friendly Reminder: Please Do NOT Pack Too Much. Or It may cause the bag oversized.

It’s rare that I actually need a wheelie these days. I tend toward a backpack unless I’m carrying a laptop or changing terminals (flying through DFW or ORD etc. Oh and there was that RIDICULOUS trek through IAH coming back from Uruguay and walked several miles to the customs line and back to my connecting flight. Normally walking isn’t a problem, but after a long sleepless overnight flight I was pre-caffeine and crabby.) 

I still use an American Tourister Atmosphera Tote I got years ago that does fit under the seat and is pretty good for regional jets, but it wouldn’t work if I needed to fly Spirit. Here’s a later version sold at The Mart of Wal

Non-wheelie options:

Of course you could go with a messenger bag or a backpack:

5 Cities | 16 Inch Carry On Hand Luggage Flight Duffle Bag, 2nd Bag or Underseat, 19L $ – this one specifies it works on Spirit.

Uniqlo | 3 Way Bag $ – I have this bag and I really like it. It’s somewhat deconstructed, and several folks on youtube use it for ultralight travel.  Here’s Packing Lite’s video

Mochi Things | Travelus Multipurpose Bag $$$ – I have a similar bag called an “overnight” backpack but I use it for week long jaunts. I also keep it loaded as I have elderly grandmothers and never know when I need to jump on a plane to get back home. Mine was about $30 on

I always think ultralight packing is always the way to go, but changing bag dimensions was a pretty irritating move on Spirit’s part :/

Anyone flown on Spirit lately? How did you pack? 

Prepping for Paris!

Ever since college, when I studied in Paris for my French degree, I’ve managed to make it to Paris just about every 3 years by hook or by crook. Sometimes that meant eating more ramen than was to my liking and forgoing the things that make life fun, but saving for retirement *and* travel is necessary to me. I just skipped movies and dinners out.

During the aughts I couldn’t maintain the 3 year plan so I went other places like St Martin and Hawaii with friends and mileage points, but couldn’t quite swing Paris. 

And now, FINALLY I am able to get to Paris later this year! (Cross your fingers that the current regime doesn’t blow up the planet before then!) I’m reviewing options for places to stay, organizing passport / visa details, looking around to see if a travel SIM or just an international plan with my wireless provider will do, and generally tweaking my travel wardrobe for optimal comfort while not looking like a hobo in yoga pants.

Alien and Eiffel Tower
Alien and Eiffel Tower!

So excited!

New travel day pack!

Recently I sold my Sea to Summit daypack, which served me well, however it drove me bonkers by not going back into the sleeve nicely. (Truly a personal issue… it’s a great daypack.)

I found another ultralight pack nosing around a drugstore and it passed the “go gently into that good storage case” test. It’s the Lewis N Clark electrolight pack. They also have ultralight compression micro packing cubes and dopp kits which I also tested out and loved. REI  has almost the exact same micro packing cubes in grey if you want to use your dividend there πŸ™‚ 

NOTE: to all the Tom Bihn afficionados, the micro packing cubes work perfectly in the Night Flight Travel Duffle center section for packing as well, but, I digress…

The shoulder straps are nicely lined with a bit of a grippy material which helps when you are wearing a Patagonia slippery down jacket. The material isn’t shiny, but has a gloss to it while still feeling a bit velvety. I toss it into my one bag carry set up and can use it as a shopping bag or a plane stuff bag while I’m in the air.

I’m ready to go test this out on a trip now!

Night Flight Travel Duffle & an ultralight tripΒ 

I went home for a visit recently and decided that I just didn’t feel like bringing much stuff at all. (It’s home; I generally end up running around in leggings and a sweater all week. My family isn’t all that dressy anyway πŸ™‚  )

So I grabbed my Tom Bihn Night Flight Travel Duffle and put in the basics:

  • Survival kit (see contents below)
  • iPad and keyboard cover + cables
  • Noise cancelling ear buds
  • Travel cpap + wall plug
  • Some tshirts, socks and undies 
  • Miscellaneous stuff (glasses case, 1st aid kit zippy, power bank, gorilla pod, slim power adaptor, etc.)

Here is most of the “stuff” that I took (my iPhone is taking the picture) and most of that went in one of the side pockets.

One of the things that really saves space is my “survival kit”.

It stands up in the corner of the center compartment and takes the place of several other pouches people tend to have. It is a LeSportsac Kevyn Cosmetic Case that has a large zip section and a side pocket. I have several dry toiletries in the big zip compartment, such as JR Ligget shampoo bar, tooth brush, tooth powder, an eyeliner pencil, lip stain, nail nippers, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick (0.5 Ounce) and I made a tiny deodorant by remelting it into an empty swivel stick container. (Regular travel deodorants are handy but the form factor takes up a lot of room.) The side zip pocket has several short cables for charging my phone and iPad as well as micro USB for my travel batteries. I also keep a low profile power bank in there that stores tidily and lets me charge my phone at least once.

(I have a USB extender cable in my duffle so that I don’t have to worry about using those 3 inch cables in a wall plug πŸ˜‰ )

This kit stays packed and moves with me from bag to bag. Mighty handy.

So aside from what I wore on the plane, this was the clothing I took and it fit in a Tom Bihn mesh packing cube that went into the same pocket as the little bit of stuff.

It fits under the seat rather nicely.

Not pictured: I do carry a pouch purse (usually the Side Effect) for my phone, wallet, etc.  it’s much easier to get through security with that stuff at hand.  I just got the Sidekick so it will be even easier to travel ultralight now!