Sunday, August 30, 2009

Backpack or roller bag? Vote!

Had breakfast this morning with a friend who had spent two years teaching in Venezuela many years ago. I got a wonderful suggestion for my trip to Arabia. I have been trying to figure out how to maximize what I can take onboard the airplane as a carry-on and she said, "What about a backpack?"

Eureka. Why didn't I think of that? It will fit perfectly in the overhead compartment and still allow me to have my hefty laptop -- practically a suitcase in itself.

In the meantime, I ran across a perfectly sized mini-roller bag over at the Goodwill store when I was dropping off donations. I might have been able to live with the hot pink color, but it was emblazoned with a bright "Little Kitty" logo too. Fortunately, as I was driving home I found a parking lot rummage sale where I was able to score a conservative black mini-rollerbag.

Now I have to decide which one will hold more and /or be more useful. Remember, for carry on, weight doesn't matter here. I could fill it with bowling balls if I could yank it onboard. What matters is that the bag be 45 linear inches or less.*

Here are the candidates:

a) The black rollerbag measures about 38.75 linear inches, has a convenient pull-up handle, wheels and a front pouch. The front fabric allows for some bulging for last-minute items. Some of the interior space is used up by the hardware "ribs."

b) The green backpack measures between 35 and 36 linear inches, depending on how you count the front pouch. It has typical backpack straps, two main compartments and the front pouch has two handy compartments. The design allows considerable bulging for squeezing in last-minute items. It would be good for city trekking and going back and forth to school.

I'm taking opinions. Vote for the bag of your choice.

*You figure linear inches by simply adding up the 3 dimensions: thus 20H +20W + 20L = 60"


  1. Are you sure about no weight restrictions? We have a fairly standard 7-10kg weight allowance for baggage even for international flights. Granted you'd be hard pressed to fill a bag with more than that weight.

    I don't like roller bags at all. They're such a nuisance on a plane as they have no give so you cant maneuver them around in the overhead compartment. You also require a free hand to carry it around and when are you going to use it other than to roll around an airport?

    With a backpack you can put whatever you need in it without the rigidity (which is useful when you want to get something from it during your flight - I put mine under the seat so I can access it whenever I want). You don't need a free hand to carry it and you can use it every day.

    I'm a big supporter of bags that have multiple uses and I would expect if you didn't take a back pack then you'd probably end up buying one when you get over there. However, I have never had a small roller bag so have only experienced the nuisance of them taking up space in overhead compartments. I have a million pieces of entertainment that I take on a flight with me to pass the time so I like my baggage to be easily accessible.

    And now that I've said all of this someone will buy me one as a going away present and I'll end up using it instead of my backpack :P. Better start spreading the word that I have all my baggage sorted.

  2. I'm with Stacy - always go for the hands free option. Two free arms are more effective when pushing people out of your way to be first in the immigration lines. Kidding, sort of...

  3. As it happens, I posed the question to my tennis group last night and the response was about as unanimous as a bunch like that can get: they TOTALLY agree with Stacy and Jackie.

    Stacy -- the weight limit applies to checked baggage, not carry-on. The carry-on only has a size limit.

    In the meantime, I have a hybrid plan. The backpack only weighs 1 lb, so I may just pack it, stuffed, in one of my cardboard luggage boxes. That way I'll have it when I arrive, yet still be able to use the rollerbag for my change of clothes, toiletries and other stuff I can't fit in my big laptop/entertainment bag.

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