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  1. #1
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Traveling to Central America with a Smart Alec and a Pop Tote

    I recently enjoyed my first-ever international trip -- to Costa Rica. I went as part of a work trip, so I didn't get a chance to see much of the country, unfortunately. But I got to go! On someone else's dime!

    Of course, I took Tom Bihn bags with me. I didn't see any others carrying Tom Bihn bags, though. Since it was a short trip and I didn't want to check a bag, I took a Smart Alec and a Pop Tote.

    The Smart Alec carried clothes, shoes, travel tray packed in a stuff sack, light jacket in a size 2 stuff sack, and a clear 3D organizer cube for toiletries. I used packing cube shoulder bags to organize the clothes and shoes, and I used two 3D organizer cubes for smaller things. It took a little maneuvering to stuff everything into the pack, but the main compartment adjusted quite well to the load. The travel tray and jacket went in one side pocket, and the clear cube went in the other side pocket, tethered to the O-ring. That decision worked out well for showing it to security. In Costa Rica, I zipped open the pocket to show the security person, and she waved me through. On the U.S. sides, I just placed the organizer cube next to the pack in the bins. On the planes themselves the pack fit nicely into the overhead bins. With how tightly it was packed, though, accessing things inside while traveling would have been difficult.

    The Pop Tote became my personal bag and work bag (lots of meetings) for the trip. I actually waffled among the Pop Tote, the Maker's Bag, and the Stowaway. The Maker's Bag needed a top zipper and some internal stabilization (mine's in Halycon so it's... floppy), so that was out. The Stowaway is amazing for all its pockets and internal organization, but it's perhaps *too* organized, if that makes sense. Sometimes you're in a hurry and need to throw something in your bag and go. So, zipper and some structure? Pop Tote it was.

    I tried to organize the inside of the Pop Tote with a Daylight Briefcase and some Travel Cubelets and Cubelets. The Daylight Briefcase was sort of helpful for providing some internal structure for larger things such as a tablet, ereader, paper notebook. The Travel Cubelets and Cubelets were for the smaller things. For the most part the Pop Tote was fine. It fit easily under the seat, the zipper kept everything inside, and it carried mostly easily from meeting to meeting. On the second day, I ended up removing the Daylight Briefcase and just using the Cubelets arranged on the bottom of the bag for some structure. It was really hard to see inside with the black interior, and the briefcase only made it more difficult. I also was wishing for a longer shoulder strap. The Pop Tote tight on the shoulder in high heat and humidity was a bit uncomfortable.

    Of course, now that I have seen one country, I want to see them all... global Pokémon, as it were. Both the Smart Alec and the Pop Tote were fine for this trip, but in the future I might move toward a one bag with a Synapse or a Synapse with a Sidekick. We'll see.

    Thank you for the chance to share my experiences on this forum!

  2. #2
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    Thank you for sharing your journey and the bags you used.

    What colors are they?

  3. #3
    Forum Member afreen's Avatar
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    Let's see:

    Smart Alec is new black Halcyon / Northwest Sky
    Daylight Briefcase is new black Halycon / Northwest Sky
    Stowaway is new black Halycon / Northwest Sky
    Maker's bag is new black Halcyon / Wasabi
    Pop Tote is in black
    Travel Cubelets were black and Dawn
    Cubelets were Deep Blue and Dawn

    I may need to do some destashing soon...

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