best travel bags

Traveling smart and traveling stylishly can sometimes feel like conflicting notions. Now that I’m fully sold on the idea of traveling with carry-on only (a recurring theme on this blog, I know!), it seems I’m forever looking for ways to condense what I carry without leaving all of my favourite things at home. Shoes are always a problem but somehow I manage. Bags are the other challenge. I know the saying goes, “When in doubt, leave it out”, but I’m a bigger fan of finding a way to stuff it in! If you’re faced with the same dilemma when it comes to bags, here’s what I travel with:


{1} Longhaul Scorpius Hard Rollercase
I bought this little guy at Marks & Spencer on a trip to London last year. I needed to replace the one I’d arrived with and found this in an unlikely shop. But it has become my favourite carry-on suitcase. I love its hard body. I thought it might be inflexible and difficult to really stuff, but that’s not the case. It’s far roomier than I had expected and the four wheels … why has it taken so long for us to figure out that suitcases need four wheel drive? It moves so easily and smoothly. I can push it through the airport with just one finger. And sometimes I do. Just because I can.

{2} Longchamp Le Pliage Bag
I recently wrote about Longchamp’s Le Pliage bag but it’s back on my list for its enduring form and function. It’s a great travel tote but its best quality is that it folds into an envelope shape making it enormously packable. I would never leave home without this.

{3} Louis Vuitton Neverfull in Damier
This recent (and I know, extravagant! I hope my fiance doesn’t read this blog) Merry-Christmas-to-me purchase became a fast favourite. Louis Vuitton’s Neverfull in Damier is a great carry-on bag not only because of its obvious style but because of its sheer size. It’s a tote-style bag so if you need compartments, this isn’t the bag for you. But so far, I haven’t found that to be a drawback. It’s roomy enough to fit my laptop, Kobo, makeup bag and wallet as well as all the other odds and ends that seem to end up in there. But the bag is built to hold up to 300 lbs (yikes!) so as long as you can lift it, fill ‘er up!

{4} Radley London Pocket Bag
I found this crossbody bag at Radley London in, you guessed it, London. It’s the perfect day-bag for sightseeing days when you just need to carry a few essentials with you. But even more importantly, it’s so flat, it’s easy to throw into a carry-on suitcase without taking up much room.

{5} Mesh Fold Over Clutch
This mesh fold-over clutch continues with my theme of flat bags. My sister gave this to me for Christmas and it’s now my go-to evening bag when I travel. Chic and stylish, this is another bag that won’t hog all the room in my suitcase … room I need for other essentials!

What are your favourite bags to travel with?

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travel essential: glambags


Travel is one of the most amazing things I get to do with my job. I’m blessed and welcome every opportunity I get to visit a new place with open arms. Having done so much travel in the past few years, I’ve gotten pretty good at packing light and packing smart. But the key to smart packing is knowing what you really need and what you can (and should) leave at home. Over the next little while, I’m going to share some of my favourite travel essentials. Today: Glambags.

There’s no getting around airport security. We have to abide by the rules even if we don’t like them. On my recent trip to Switzerland, I worried about the fact that many European hotels don’t have hair conditioner in the showers. What? I’m a girl who NEEDS conditioner. I made the rookie mistake of trying to sneak a full-size bottle of conditioner through security in my carry-on only luggage. Foiled. The pretty security agent who found it was nice … but she still STOLE my conditioner. I should have known better.

So, it’s back to those little sandwich bags, crammed with bottles containing every last drop of liquid I think I might need. All hotels will have shampoo, so you needn’t pack any of that. But if you desperately need your conditioner, it’s wise to bring a travel-sized bottle to tide you over until you arrive at your destination and can get to a drugstore, just in case the hotel doesn’t supply any. Anyway, I loved these cute travel bags when I saw them and thought I’d share. Glambags are specifically for your liquids when you travel so they’ll make the journey in style, just like you. So instead of scrambling for a sandwich bag when you’re packing, keep a box of these on hand and you’ll be good to go!

Available at: Kiki*C
Price: $8.95

happy canada day, eh?

happy-canada-dayJuly is finally here and it’s ushered in with our first holiday of the summer – Canada Day. This year, our national holiday falls on a Wednesday, so that means no long weekend for us. But a day off mid-week isn’t too bad either. Canada Day celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the British North America Act, which united Canada as a single country of four provinces. That was 142 years ago.

I love being Canadian. I love that the reputation that precedes us is that we’re kind and polite. I love traveling with a Canadian passport; it’s a pretty hassle-free experience. I love beaver tails and Nanaimo bars, Smarties and Tim Hortons, west coast salmon and east coast lobster. And if I could, I’d never travel without a bottle of real Canadian maple syrup tucked away in my luggage (but I don’t because that’s weird … and potentially quite messy.)

So to all Canadians at home or far from home, I thank you for your contribution to making this country a place I love to call home. And to everyone, Canadian or not: Happy Canada Day!

how to: pack smart

packing-smartI know. It’s not easy to pack light. I don’t know how guys do it – well, I do know how they do it. They pack one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, maybe a pair of shorts and two T-shirts. They don’t mind that everything doesn’t match and they have no problem leaving their products (if they even use any) at home. Oh, they just don’t understand us women. The clothes, the shoes, the hair products, the skin products, the makeup, the purses, sweaters if it’s chilly, sundresses if it’s hot … did I mention the shoes? Like I said. I know. It’s not easy to pack light.

But … I will say that I myself have learned from my BF and travel expert, how to pack smart, without having to leave all my fabulous stuff at home. It all started when he and I began planning a trip to Hawaii and Australia, with a pit stop for me in Los Angeles, that would last 16 days. Awesome! Until he called me up one night and said something about only bringing carry-on luggage. Huh? Was he planning a different trip than me? Didn’t he realize that we were going away for SIXTEEN days? I started to argue until he made the one point that was unarguable. We would, he explained, be flying on some small planes, including one puddle jumper to Fraser Island. We simply couldn’t weigh the plane down with excess luggage. Gulp. Carry-on it was.

But how? It was like the riddle of the Sphinx. I was stumped. But with the help of my ever-ingenious mom, we figured it out. The key is rolling.

First, I place my shoes around the perimeter inside the suitcase. Small shoes like flip-flops can easily fit into pockets. That leaves what looks like not-a-whole-heck-of-a-lot-of-room for anything else. Before you start packing your clothing, survey everything you’re planning to take and cut it down by half. OK, maybe by one-third. Then start rolling. Clothing rolled into tight cylinder-like shapes can be lined up in rows tightly against one other and you’ll be surprised just how much fits. Depending on what you’re packing, you may even be able to do another row on top. If you’re heading to a warm-weather destination, this is much easier as summer clothes are so much smaller and lighter than those in our winter wardrobes. But the principle still applies. Packing this way, I can still fit two pairs of jeans along with shorts, skirts, dresses, tops, shoes and accessories.

But what’s the big advantage to traveling light? Well, there are lots of pros. First of all, you don’t have to get to the airport quite so early if you’re not checking a bag. You won’t have to worry about it getting lost in transit (it’s a real pain, trust me!). You don’t have to waste time at the baggage carousel once you’ve landed. It’s safe and secure with you at all times and it gives you added flexibility. Say you want to change flights for some reason (maybe there’s an earlier flight or your flight is significantly delayed); having your luggage on your person means you can make quick decisions and change your travel plans … on the fly.

There are lots of other packing tricks like socks inside shoes. What are your packing tricks? Leave a comment and share! But remember ladies, you don’t have to bring everything but the bathroom sink! It took me a while to feel comfortable traveling without my hairdryer (even still the thought stresses me out), but for the most part, all hotels have hairdryers. They’ve got shampoo, conditioner, soap – so leave that stuff at home. I know you’re partial to your own products. But what would you rather have – your own shampoo or your cute strappy sandals? That’s what I thought.

lugbuddy

One of my least favourite things about travel is being weighed down with stuff. You know how it is – you roll up to the airport with everything neatly packed but before you know it, you’re scrambling to find your passport and your hands are filled with stuff — pen, boarding pass, customs forms. Your shoulder bag is hanging from your elbow and you’re trying to roll your suitcase with your other hand but you’ve dropped your boarding pass and the people in line behind you are starting to scowl. You’ve only got two hands and if you could, you would move faster!

The airport is not the place to be disorganized. Just recently, I was sitting at my gate, waiting to board an American Airlines flight to New York when the flight attendant came by, saw my luggage and asked for a personal demonstration of the gadget I’m about to tell you about. It’s called a LUGbuddy and it’s the greatest little invention. It’s like a bungee cord. You fasten one end around the handle of your suitcase. Then, place your hand luggage (or whatever else you’re carrying) on top of the suitcase and stretch the LUGbuddy across the item, securing it at the back of the suitcase’s pull handle. Finally, tighten the LUGbuddy with the cord lock if necessary.

This gem is one of the best products I’ve found when it comes to helping you stay organized. It makes it so much easier to navigate your way through the airport when your two pieces of luggage are secured together like this and it also leaves one hand free. I LUG my LUGbuddy and never travel without it! Visit lugbuddy.com for more information.

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andrew harper and dunhill traveller collection

What do you get when you cross Andrew Harper (acclaimed travel aficionado on everything luxurious and sophisticated) with dunhill (fashion house known for its luxurious and sophisticated designs)? You get the absolutely gorgeous Traveller collection, exclusively from dunhill. You may know Andrew Harper as the Editor-in-Chief of The Hideaway Report, a newsletter targeted toward discerning travellers. He’s joined forces with the powerhouse fashion house of dunhill and together they’ve created a small and exclusive line of luggage featuring just three inimitable pieces: a holdall, a document case and a rucksack. Each piece is exquisitely designed with supple leather and is the perfect marriage of form and function. Each piece of dunhill Traveller will be sold with a booklet that introduces Andrew Harper and provides his essential packing tips. These pieces are effortlessly beautiful but masculine, perfect for the special man in your life. (Father’s Day is on June 21, ladies.) This luggage is for men what Louis Vuitton’s luggage is for women. Decadent. Luxurious. Sophisticated. View the entire collection here: dunhill.com. And for more information and to become an Andrew Harper member (benefits include: access to trusted, insider advice, a variety of planning services and exclusive travel priviliges), visit andrewharper.com.

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switchflops

OK, I don’t know about you but one of the biggest problems I encounter when I’m packing is shoes. I have learned the advantages of traveling with carry-on only and for the most part, it’s completely do-able. But where I run into trouble … ? It’s the shoes. Different outfits require different shoes and to pack so that only one or two are required, well, I find that an enormous challenge. I mean, I typically need (and by “need” I mean “want to bring”) a pair of running shoes, a pair of flip flops and a pair of walking shoes … oh, and a pair of heels. And that doesn’t take into account the fact that sometimes I might want to bring a particular pair of shoes in a particular colour to go with a particular outfit. Oh boy. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered SwitchFlops. SwitchFlops are flip-flops that feature Velcro straps. When you want to change the colour of the straps, simply remove them and replace them with new straps. There are lots of colours and patterns to choose from. So when you’re packing, you can pack just one shoe base (there are flip-flops, wedges and kitten heels) and an assortment of straps to change up the look. The shoes range in price from $35 to $49 and the straps are only $12. Talk about saving valuable space in your suitcase. Brilliant!
For more information, visit switchflops.com

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angela adams: canvas totes

Angela Adams is most widely known for her beautiful home decor products and accessories – rugs, pillows, wallcoverings and artwork. But one of the newest additions to her colourful collection is an assortment of canvas totes that I’m simply ga-ga over! I love these bags! While they’re certainly handy for running errands on a Saturday morning, or paying a visit to your local flower shop (sigh … ), they’re also perfect for travel. I can just see this slung over my arm as I take a carefree stroll through the French countryside, maybe stopping to pick some fleurs along the way, you never know … (the picture makes me feel like this bag is just screaming for flowers.) This 100% cotton canvas bag is hand-silkscreened and features open exterior pockets and zipped interior pockets. Available in five different colours and patterns, this bag is perfect for when you’re on the road and on the go. And you needn’t worry about getting it dirty as you drag it from place to place — it’s machine washable … c’est parfait!

Available online at: angelaadams.com
Price: $85

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my tagalongs: luggage tags

Stand at any baggage carousel at any airport around the world and you’ll see an endless parade of small black suitcases coming down the line, one by one, each one looking just like the last. I understand why; black is classic, it won’t clash with what you’re wearing (if you’re worried about such things) and after a few trips, it doesn’t look as dirty as it actually is. Yes, everyone seems to opt for the little black suitcase. (Not me – my luggage set is purple … ) Anyhow, the trouble with all the black suitcases is, of course, that it’s a bit difficult to spot yours as it spins around the carousel. I’m sure you’ve found yourself pawing someone else’s luggage, looking for something that identifies it as yours. Here’s a solution: These colourful bag tags will help you spot your suitcase easily (and they’re bilingual, sporting cheeky phrases in English and French, too!)

Available at: mytagalongs.com
Price: $10 for a pack of four

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lovin’ lug

Many people find packing before a trip to be a hassle. But I have to say, I quite enjoy it. I love the anticipation that comes with packing, the excitement that builds as I plan out what I’ll need for my adventure. And I’ve become quite good at it, if I might say so myself. There was once a time when packing for a four-day long weekend to Florida involved six pairs of shoes, an endless assortment of sundresses, far too many bikinis and a few warm but bulky sweaters – you know, just in case. And all of this of course, required a much-too-large suitcase, which in retrospect, I realize was ridiculous for the short getaway. Since then, I’ve honed the skill of packing and once traveled to Hawaii, Australia and Los Angeles for sixteen days with nothing more than a carry-on suitcase. And I had everything I needed!

The key to smart packing isn’t just about the clothing you bring (or don’t bring!) but it’s about your accessories. The right luggage and handbags can really simplify things while you’re on the road. That’s why I love the bags and travel accessories available from Lug. Not only are they super-stylish (I love the candy colours!), but they’re incredibly practical, too. In all of their bags, you’ll find secret storage pockets in unexpected but totally necessary places and finding what you need while your hands are full at the airport will be pleasantly easy. Pictured below: Ticket Tango Travel Wallet ($28), Taxi Full Tote ($55), Skipper Shoulder Pouch ($28), Mini Puddle Jumper ($55).

For more information, visit: lugtravel.com

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