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View Full Version : Bag advice for business travel to London & beyond (female)



jmstoneking
09-13-2017, 08:28 PM
Hi all,

I've spent quality time in the forum and on bag reviews, and haven't seen this conundrum addressed, so here goes.

I am a 51 yr old female executive in a fairly hip (read: business casual) company which is based in London. I also have staff in Bulgaria that I visit when I'm in Europe, as my home base is Denver. This job started one year ago this week, and I've been back and forth to London 8 times in that span, so have gotten fairly good at packing light. My general MO has been strictly carryon, with a roller bag (which I'm getting better about packing sensibly) and a sleek backpack (Minaal Daily). I do overpack my backpack, so am challenging myself about what is really essential to bring and how I could travel wheel-less. It sure would be a lot easier on the budget airlines.

So I have come back to evaluating Tom Bihn bags. Because I'm traveling for business, I don't see one-bag travel working, as I need an EDC bag while I'm there. I often have meetings outside the office with other professionals, so the backpack is not quite as professional as I'd like. That eliminates the Synapse models. Frankly, the backpack approach was awfully sweaty this summer walking to & from the office so I ended up carrying it on one shoulder and regretting how much I had brought.

My typical trip is 2 weeks long. Ideally, I'd like to get on the plane and stow my larger bag in the overhead. I would probably go with the TriStar. I think I could get all my clothes, toiletries, etc. in the TriStar. I need a second bag, however, for my computer, etc. for the plane and for going to/from work when I'm there.

I can see shuffling some things between suitcase and second/EDC bag when I'm actually there, however on the plane, the second bag would need to hold: 13" MacBook Air, iPad Mini, bag of charger & adapters, small bag of cords, planner, pens, small bag of travel comfort stuff (eyemask, earplugs, essential oils, herbal sleep aids), plus wallet, passport, and office-specific access badges. I also need to tuck a reusable water bottle in there. I really like to also carry my reusable Kleen Kanteen hot beverage container, but could tuck that into my bigger bag. Would a Ristretto work for this purpose? I'm really trying to be careful to not bring too much, especially considering I would be carrying it all, and the under-seat storage on the aisle seats in premium economy is tiny.

What advice do you have for me? Any other female business travelers who have done this? When I went to London last month, I was able to bring my daughter and we got to run over to Paris for the weekend. We stashed our suitcases and just used small bags, and it was so freeing. That feeling motivated me to see what I can do to improve my business travel experience overall.

TIA!!
Joan


ETA: I'm open to advice from anyone, of course, but the reason I specified female is because I have different ideas of what is essential - i.e., I *need* my toiletry products because I'm super picky about what I use, plus accessories, etc - and I thought a fellow female business traveler might have a different take on what she finds works for her :)

damonsharp
09-13-2017, 09:32 PM
I'm not female, but if it were me and the Synapses were out of the running I'd probably go with the Aeronaut 30 for the overhead and the Pilot (or similar briefcase/messenger) for the computer and accessories under the seat. You could sling the messenger over your back without the sweat problem and carry the A30 by the handle, or you could use the A30 in backpack mode as well if needed and have the messenger over one shoulder. The variety of carrying options might be nice. Just my two cents.

BWeaves
09-14-2017, 05:57 AM
My choice for your scenario would be:

A45 + Pilot OR D36 (Medium Road Duffle) + Pilot

The Pilot will hold the laptop, the water bottle, and all the other bulky stuff and still double as a casual briefcase for going to the office.

I just traded up from and A30 to an A45 because while I don't need the extra space, I do need the flat acreage. I underpack my bags, but I want room to not crease my garments. My absolute favorite bag is the D36, but it does not have backstraps.

I'm also contemplating sizing up to a TriStar from a WF. I'm a flat packer, but sometimes the bulky stuff (shoes) doesn't fit in the flatness of those two bags, which is where the Aeronauts shine. I also have a problem in that I find the front pockets on the TS and WF don't fit anything I bring, so they are useless.

I have just discovered that my favorite packing cube (Eagle Creek Specter Medium Packing folder) fits perfectly in an A45 if I unzip one side of the bottom. It JUST fits in the WF, but it's a bit tight on the corners, and it probably fits perfectly in the TS because it has that extra inch of room. But the fact that it fits in the A45 blew my mind, because I could not get it in an A30 to save my life.

luvdabags
09-14-2017, 06:01 AM
Pilot or Makers Bag for the EDC part.

jmstoneking
09-14-2017, 07:52 AM
Thanks for all the comments on the Pilot - I'll take a closer look at that one.

@BWeaves, I have to stay small because of my travel to Bulgaria, which is often on RyanAir, so that eliminates the A45 for me. I've been able to sneak my rollerbag on board the last few times, but I've read that they are getting stricter about carryons. I don't bring heels, so the flat-packing is my MO also. And yay for Eagle Creek packing folders! My favorite is also the medium. I like how the TriStar segregates stuff on the sides, but also has a bigger space in the middle. That's where I envision putting my makeup bag, etc.

jmstoneking
09-14-2017, 10:46 AM
Update: Thanks to the recommendations here, I'm leaning heavily toward the Pilot. Would an Absolute Strap be too big/wide? I would want to carry the bag cross-body, especially when carrying both bags. I saw a note on another thread about an Op/Tech strap on Amazon, so was leaning toward the mini version of that if the Absolute is too big for the Pilot.

Again, many thanks for the input!

Joan

habanero
09-14-2017, 11:40 AM
I second/third/fourth the Pilot for this purpose (as a fellow female business traveler though not to as interesting destinations as you!) I use the Absolute strap with a Black Halcyon Pilot and find it to be a perfect combo. I haven't used the mini Op/Tech strap but from I read people really like it for smaller bags like the Co-pilot. I find it a bit awkward from cross-body use but I'm also usually too lazy to change the length, which would probably remove that problem.

I have a WF and an A30 - I usually use the WF for business travel but my trips are usually just 2-3 days.

Good luck with your choice!

cazique
09-14-2017, 11:50 AM
Update: Thanks to the recommendations here, I'm leaning heavily toward the Pilot. Would an Absolute Strap be too big/wide? I would want to carry the bag cross-body, especially when carrying both bags. I saw a note on another thread about an Op/Tech strap on Amazon, so was leaning toward the mini version of that if the Absolute is too big for the Pilot.

I do not think the Absolute is too big for the Pilot. (5'11" 220lb man here.)

I will say that my first thought when I got the Pilot was that the regular strap that came with it (not the Absolute) was super comfortable. I have also found that in carrying a moderately-filled-but-not-stuffed Pilot (as well as the Cadet), the Absolute strap does indeed make even more of a difference. It is super comfy. I imagine the "junior version" Op/Tech would also be suitable.

Particularly if you are buying another bigger bag in the same shipment - presumably you'll be buying an Absolute strap for that bag. You could try the regular and Absolute straps on the Pilot and see if the difference is enough to purchase a second Absolute?

Muni_Jedi
09-14-2017, 12:26 PM
My one caution with the Absolute Strap is a lot depends on how you like the bag to sit when you carry/walk. If the bag rides on your hip the AS is perfect. I prefer for it to ride low and closer to the small of my back. Thus I find the AS less comfortable due to the fixed nature of the shoulder pad. The standard strap works nicely because the pad slides and that allows for one side of the strap to be longer than the other in some situations and equal in others, the AS does not allow this once it is set up the pad is fixed.

BWeaves
09-14-2017, 12:55 PM
I have an Absolute Shoulder Strap just for my Pilot and I love it. Yeah, it looks huge for the bag, but it sure is comfy.

I've adjusted the strap to be a bit off center so the pad sits on my shoulder perfectly and the bag is where I want it (a bit to the front of me). I don't like a bag on my back, as I think it invites pickpockets.

Fulton
09-14-2017, 02:23 PM
Pilot sounds great, but I'd also recommend the looking at Makers Bag as a second bag. I (male) think it would hold all your stuff, although I don't carry a laptop. I've used it from vacation travel to nice office meetings.

I love the front pockets for badges, comfort stuff, phone, etc. and then the big open space for flexible packing. With some stuff sacks and file folders, I've been able to travel and work out of it. I think it carries nicely -- either with a Western Flyer on the other shoulder or with an A45 as a backpack.


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Kaadk
09-14-2017, 04:59 PM
I'm all about travelling small and light with just the bare necessities, so take that into consideration for this advice, but depending on how bulky some of those bulkier items actually are, you might be able to fit everything on there in a DLBC. I can certainly pack a lot into mine.

Especially considering you're willing to transfer some of those 'plane only' items to your bigger bag once you're off the plane. You might be a little overpacked on the plane, but assuming say, 1/4 of that at least isn't needed in your EDC it'll be a nice small bag for 13" air that you can easily maneuver around with between those client meetings, after work get together with the team before you get back to the hotel, etc...

Don't get me wrong, I love my Pilot too, and I use it as my EDC when I'm on the road, but that's mostly because I've one-bagged it with the Pilot for the 3 nights I'm out. If I had a second bag, I'd be EDCing with my DLBC.

jmstoneking
09-14-2017, 06:11 PM
Pilot sounds great, but I'd also recommend the looking at Makers Bag as a second bag. I (male) think it would hold all your stuff, although I don't carry a laptop. I've used it from vacation travel to nice office meetings.

I love the front pockets for badges, comfort stuff, phone, etc. and then the big open space for flexible packing. With some stuff sacks and file folders, I've been able to travel and work out of it. I think it carries nicely -- either with a Western Flyer on the other shoulder or with an A45 as a backpack.



I thought about the Makers Bag, but had read that it doesn't zip closed, so that concerned me. Have you found that an issue for you?

Fulton
09-14-2017, 06:48 PM
I haven't found the Maker's Bag closure to be an issue. The top closes with a clip. Things don't fall out. I have liked the bag immensely. But I respect folks who want the guarantee of a zipper closing the top.


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AlaskaGirl
09-14-2017, 08:54 PM
I thought about the Makers Bag, but had read that it doesn't zip closed, so that concerned me. Have you found that an issue for you?

Greetings,
That was a consideration for me, too. In another thread, several forum members suggested using a packing cube to corral some items. It works perfectly and solves the issue for me. I use the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag, but others will work. elisa

Edited to add: Here's the link to the other thread. https://forums.tombihn.com/questions-about-bags/12733-makers-bag-security.html

Frank II
09-15-2017, 12:29 AM
On Nov 1, Ryanair's baggage policy is changing. You will only be able to bring on board one bag for free and it can be no bigger than about 13 x 8 x 8. This is the current size of the "personal item" If you want to bring a full size carry on (21.8 x 15 x 8") you will have to pay for a higher fare with the lowest being priority boarding--about 5 GBP. Weight limit is still 22 lbs.

https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/plan-trip/flying-with-us/baggage-policy

Scroll down to the bottom.

Don't get fooled by the usage of "roller." It's all bags larger not just those with wheels but since most people bring wheels, that's how they try to explain it.

Checked baggage fees are going down and the weight limit is increasing.

Cristina
09-15-2017, 07:37 AM
On Nov 1, Ryanair's baggage policy is changing. You will only be able to bring on board one bag for free and it can be no bigger than about 13 x 8 x 8.

Gosh, 13x8x8 is smaller than even the Co-Pilot!

ETA: The PCSB is the closest I think, at 11.75"x7.75"x3". It would be fun to join two PCSBs back to back in order to satisfy and maximize this requirement.

jmstoneking
09-15-2017, 09:46 AM
It's not so much the charge for it as the size restriction of what you can bring aboard. I'm traveling for business, so always pay the higher fare to be able to have priority boarding, sit in the front, bring carry-ons, etc. My current bag has been a bit of a squeeze in the overhead bins anyway, so might get looked at more closely and now be told it must be checked because of its size. If I'm sizing down anyway, I'd like to get the most useful bag possible...Tom Bihn!

Having been all over London public transport with a roller-bag, I'm ready to carry rather than roll. I may yet be able to get down to one-bag travel with a daypack that I can pull out!

TRD
09-16-2017, 09:46 AM
I've always wanted to love the DLBC but find it a little too small for use as a day bag. For one thing it really won't hold a water bottle in a way I find comfortable. Here are photos for scope:

1) DLBP the little black corners peeking out at the top are my fabulous eagle creek specter Medium packing cube. DLBC significantly smaller of course, and the PCSB for scope next to it.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170916/d86a8dbead33984b0f9a9933413a1b27.jpg

2) DLBP and DLBC with my 13" MB Air next to it.
https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20170916/4e3dd6952998ef348084e7710cda6f52.jpg

Perseffect
09-17-2017, 12:41 AM
Just seeing the original post for the first time.

In this scenario I’d recommend a Ballistic Tristar and makers bag or pilot.

The makers bag in particular is only possible I think as you said ‘Business casual’. I don’t think it quite hits that formal business look of a breifcase (for that, a pilot could work).

I have a makers bag in black Halcyon / NWS and I think it’s the right balance of business and casual use. The Halcyon is flexible enough to feel like a ‘light’ second bag to go with the Ballistic Tristar.




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jmstoneking
09-21-2017, 01:20 PM
An update just to close the loop on this thread.

I ended up holding off on the TriStar for financial reasons - and to work on going smaller from the angle of taking less in my actual suitcase first, to see if I could :) My next trip to London isn't until November, so I have time to experiment.

I ordered the Pilot, and it arrived today! I love the Cache and see how that will be incredibly useful. I want to love the Pilot, because it's nice and tiny, with a surprising amount of space for its size. BUT, it doesn't hold all my stuff, even for just being here in town as an EDC. So, I'm back to the drawing board to consider what works well. Looking at the volumes of various bags, I suspect the Empire Builder is what will work best for how much I carry.

I appreciate all the input received!!