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  1. #1
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    World Travler of a Different Flavor

    I spent most of my unexpected layovers in Bahrain and London reading most of the posts on this forum. I have a few questions for the experienced users here regarding a better luggage solution than what I have now.

    Warning long and scrolly post!

    First a few job details. I am on the Surface Nuclear Propulsion Mobile Training Team for American East Coast based aircraft carriers. What this means is that I fly out to carriers and inspect/train their nuclear crews. I'll have this job for the next two years. I just completed my first overseas trip. The journey involved a regional jet from Norfolk to Washington Dulles, 777 to Heathrow, 757 to Bahrain, COD (Carrier onboard delivery, think turbo prop cargo plane with seats bolted in backwards) flight to the carrier. Then reverse that to get home. We had a 26 hours in London, 12 hours in Bahrain and were scheduled for about the same on the way back. Snows in London changed that to 2 and 1/2 days in Bahrain with a six hour layover in London.

    Based on the advice of fellow teammates I packed with no intention of doing laundry. And I did not. I brought everything I would need to wear for a 9 day trip.

    Below is my packing list, some things are mandtory, such as uniform items. Others were perhaps overkill.

    Working clothes:
    2 pairs of coveralls
    1 pair of black saftey toe boots
    5 white undershirts
    1 Khaki belt
    1 black pullover wool sweater

    Casual Clothes:
    1 pair of Khaki pants
    4 Long sleeved shirts
    9 pairs of underwear
    9 pairs of black socks

    Workout Clothes:
    2 T-shirts
    2 running shorts
    1 compression short
    Garmin Forerunner 405
    Heartrate monitor
    1 pair running socks
    1 pair running shoes

    Shipboard items:
    1 pair of shower shoes
    1 pajama bottom
    1 pajama top
    1 towel

    Toiletries:
    1 Shaving cream
    1 razor with replacement blades
    3 oz shampoo
    3 oz body wash
    1 body scrubber sponge thingie
    1 toothbrush
    1 toothpaste

    Worn on plane
    1 pair of jeans
    1 long sleeve shirt
    1 REI jacket with removeable liner
    1 underwear
    1 pair black socks
    1 pair RM Williams boots
    1 black felt hat

    Electronics
    1 work laptop Dell D630
    1 personal laptop Acer Aspire One
    1 Ipod Nano
    1 cannon powershot
    1 cell phone
    1 LAN cable
    Power cords/bricks for the above

    2 Books

    All packed in a Samsonite bag similar to this with the expansion zipper fully open, and a Targus backpack style computer bag I've had for years.

    In the Targus I had 1 cover all, 1 pair black socks, 1 pair underwear, 1 white t-shirt, all the electronics including laptops and both books.

    Obviously, I need to pare down. Things that I did not wear such as the black pullover sweater will not make the next trip.

    My questions to the forum are these:
    1) Assume the working clothes functionallity has to be maintained. What cotton/polyester type t-shirts dry the fastest? I think that I could get by with just 3 white t-shirts, but they must be either cotton or cotton/polyester (fire hazard on the ship, otherwise)

    2)How washable are the exoffico type boxer briefs? I think I could get by with just 4 pairs.

    3) What about socks? I'm a little more open for synthetics since the leather boots will provide quite bit of protection.

    4) Travel clothes. I will often have a day on either end of my trips, where I would like to be prensentable and able to attend things with a bit of culture. For example I went to see the "Sound of Music" in London's West End while I was there and felt quite comfortable in my slacks and a nice long sleeve shirt. What clothes would you recommend for travel? One cavet, the COD flight left my REI jacket smelling ever so subtly of jet fuel. Must be easily cleaned.

    5) I plan to drop my workout gear down to 1 set. I was thinking under armour for that. Any better suggestions?

    My dream is to get my load down to a carryon and a personal item. Currently leaning towards the Aeronaut and maybe an Empire Builder for that combo. Any one use that combo? or is it overkill?

    I'm 5'10" 230 lbs with a 48 or 50 R sport coat (which I have to either buy the athletic cut or have the waist taken in, thank you very much!) I don't mind a heavy load, provided the suspension works. I'm checking with my work to see if I can just use my personal laptop to drop some of the weight. I refuse to do without it as I have a 7 month son whom I like to tuck in using Skype video.

    Since taking the trip, I have come to a few conclusions:
    1) I packed way too much
    2) I am willing to do laundry either in my sink which I have on board ship since I'm an officer and rate a stateroom or at the hotel.
    3) I am willing to buy a new wardrobe if needed to accomplish my goals.
    4) I am willing to wear my black safety boots and just pack my running shoes, but only as a last resort. They are plain toed, but they really do look like worker's boots. And they don't breathe so well.
    5) I need either the pajamas or a robe since I have to walk down passageways to get to the bathroom. Think leaving your hotel room and walking across the street to shower; its a public venue. I prefer the pajams since they give me a layering option should I get the stateroom right next to the air conditioning unit. I've seen 60 F in staterooms in the Persian Gulf during the summer.

    Thanks for reading this far.

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    Wow! Quite an itinerary.

    On the list I see a couple of things that might be eliminated.

    Do you really need two pairs of running shorts? You could do your workout then hand wash them and let them dry for the next day.

    Could you use the white under shirts for workouts, eliminating the need for T-shirts. It only works if you use crew neck under shirts (they look like T-shirts anyhow)

    Are there not laundry facilities aboard ship?

    Could you set up your work Dell with Skype? That would eliminate the need to carry two laptops.


    I don't really know how to help otherwise but I think if you were to replace your current backpack with a Brain Bag the amount of stuff you could carry will be greatly increased.

    My better half has the same brand of backpack. When we packed for a trip last month, I let him borrow my Brain Bag, it became his only carry-on.

    I also agree that getting an Aeronaut used with the Absolute Strap will be a great replacement to your current bag.

    You will be able to fit most of what you were carrying.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2009
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    10
    Thanks for the review.
    1) I am reducing my workout clothes to one set. I have avoided using the white T-shirts as workout shirts because most ships do not allow them. Don't ask me why. However, I could probably get away with having a white shirt or two with a small logo which would not be visible in uniform to do dual duty.
    2) Laundry facilities are onboard ship but things have changed in that only uniforms are done by the ship's laundry folks. There are self-serve machines for doing civilian clothes and underclothes, but they are nearly always full. I think that I could find the 10 minutes to hand wash and then hang clothes to dry whereas trying to get an open machine would be problematic.
    3) Our IT department has our work laptops locked down tighter than the crown jewels. Adding Skype to the work Dell does not seem to be an option. I have my bosses permission to use my Acer, just have to get a copy of Microsoft Office 2003, load it and test it prior to the next trip.
    4) I had not thought of the Brain Bag, mostly because I have such lust for the Areonaut. I am leary of having two bags that I intend to carry on my back. It does bear thinking about though.

    Thanks,
    Nuke

  4. #4
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    I think that backpack's suggestion might be to replace your targus with the brain bag. I'm not sure you'd be able to do that from a size standpoint...it's quite large and may not pass as a "personal item". BTW I believe the brain bag is designed to hold two laptops so if you still need both laptops this might be a good bag for you.

    You do realize that the Aeronaut has backpack straps as well? If you're not planning to use them you may wish for a different bag as the pocket the straps are kept in will be a bit wasted for you. (this is assuming you keep the targus and only want one backpack).

    I know this is a tom bihn forum and I love his products...but have you considered the Red Oxx air boss? It is designed to be carried over the shoulder only. For me the 3 section "opens like a book" is more versatile than the end pocket design of the Aeronaut.

    Now as for your items...I'm so totally not military it's not even funny...so it's difficult for me to judge from your list what items are uniform/mandatory and what is discretionary.

    For socks and underwear the standard advice is that two or at most 3 pairs should be sufficient if you're willing to do a small amount of nightly laundry in the sink. To get these to dry well they likely will be synthetic...you mention this may be a problem.

    For your towel: you are using a microfibre travel towel and not a bulky cotton terry one?

    It's being picky...but can you not omit the pajama top and wear one of your Ts in the passageway as required?

    Further being picky...depending on your cell phone you can use it for ebook reading. I have a blackberry which I read mobipocket books on. I also read ereader and mobipocket books on my palm treo. The iphone has ebook readers as well. I found that eliminating paper books saved me a lot of weight and volume. Depending what you want to snap photos of your cell phone might replace your camera.

    That's just a few thoughts...

  5. #5
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    Dec 2006
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona, USA
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    427

    Wink Travel stuff

    Duofold tshirts will probably meet your requirements.
    Also, checkout Thorlo socks, I wear these all the time.

    Also, go to www.travelsmith.com and www.onebag.com for ideas on traveling lite.
    Tom Welch > Mesa, Arizona, USA
    Author of 101 Financial Ratios 5.0
    Travel Lite & Smart

  6. #6
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    Feb 2009
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    It does make sense to shed at least the pajama top in favor of wearing the T-shirt for the next day as a sleep top.

    I was drawn to the Aeronaut because it has backpack straps. I want my laptop solution to not use backpack straps. I'm ok with just a shoulder strap for the laptop carrying solution.

    I looked at the Coolmax T-shirts from Travlesmith. They appear to be mostly cotton and would meet the requirements for my uniforms. For shipboard use the undergarments have to be mostly cotton so they will not melt in a fire.

    I was using a bulky cotton terry towel. That will change.

    As for the cell phone, I'm gonna be upgrading to either an iPhone or a Blackberry. Then I'll pursue the ebook software option.

    Thanks for the feedback. I see many packages in my future.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2006
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    Denver, CO
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    OK, here's a few thoughts.

    1) the general rule of thumb for 1-bag travel is "as few pairs of shoes as you can", which might mean ditching one pair of boots and only packing your running shoes, as you mentioned. Is there any way you can find safety boots that do double duty a little better?

    2) You will have to resign yourself to washing in the sink, but trust me it really doesn't take long. I pack at most 3 pairs of underwear (Ex Officio's are great), and 3 or 4 pairs of socks. When you wash them, wring them out, then lay them on a towel. Roll up the towel nice and tight, then stomp on it. This will dry your garments as much as possible so they air dry faster.

    3) You could carry a bath-size microfiber towel and wrap it around your waist to walk to the shower. I've done this type of thing many times.

    4) Use a smartphone instead of a laptop or netbook, as others have mentioned. Many smartphones on the market can do nearly everything a laptop can do. If you have any internet access on your work laptop, you could also try using web-based solutions for personal document editing (like Google Docs).

    5) Try to replace your liquids in your toiletry kit with solids and powders. Check Onebag.com, there are some good sources there. I also use shaving oil instead of shaving cream. One-half ounce of shaving oil is enough for several months.

    6) I have used the combo of my Aeronaut and my Empire Builder several times. It works well, but keep in mind the Empire Builder is a big bag, so you might not be able to carry on both if the airline is picky.

    7) cut the clothes down to 2 pairs of slacks (no jeans) and 3 or 4 shirts (this includes what you'll wear on the plane). Make sure every shirt goes with every pair of pants. Jeans are too bulky and don't dry quickly enough to wash them unless you have access to a dryer. Try getting some slacks from someplace like Travelsmith or Magellan's. They sell a few pairs that are wrinkle resistant, dry pretty fast, and don't look too bad.

    E
    There are only 3 kinds of people in this world -- those who can count, and those who can't.

    Proud Owner of: Aeronaut, Empire Builder, PC Flyer, Tri-Star, 3 Absolute shoulder straps, 2 Freudian slips, Braincell, and many various pouches and packing cubes...

  8. #8
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    I was indeed thinking of the Brain Bag as laptop bag.

    The thread below explains how one can expand or contract the
    Brain Bag depending on content and the space you want the bag to take.

    Brain Bag: An Adaptable Beast


    And the Aeronaut used as carryon.

    If you use the Brain Bag as a personal item, you will be able to carry the Aeronaut with an Absolute Strap or it's handle.

    The Aeronaute is carry on size, except for the smallest regional jets.

    I second the idea of the microfiber towel(s), one bath size for yourself and another one to dry your clothes.
    The bulk of one regular cotton towel equals 2 or 3 microfiber towels (depending on the size)

    As an aside, there are hair drying microfiber twist towels that any person with medium or long hair length can find useful.
    The best ones can be found at Sephora, they are made is South Korea.
    The cheap ones sold in drugstore/grocery store are not worth the money.
    Last edited by backpack; 02-11-2009 at 10:03 AM.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2006
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    Atlanta, GA
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    "2) How washable are the exoffico type boxer briefs? I think I could get by with just 4 pairs."

    I use these, and they wash very easily in a sink and dry quickly. I think four pairs will be plenty.

    For travel shirts, I *love* Ex-Officio's Trip'r and Air Strip. The Trip'r looks slightly more professional (like an office shirt), while the Air Strip is a little more functional (like a travel shirt). These shirts are great for warm weather, because they breathe really well, but they can be a bit thin for cold weather. I always wear mine with an undershirt.

    Ex-Officio Trip'r:
    http://www.exofficio.com/product_det...d-ab544f68c0eb

    Ex-Officio Air Strip:
    http://www.exofficio.com/product_det...4-2fe583abc589

    These shirts are very thin, pack well, and I find them to be very soft and comfortable (among my favorite clothes). They wrinkle a bit when I pack them, but I spray a little water on them when I arrive at my destination, and they quickly hang dry, wrinkle-free.

    I agree with what others have said regarding jeans. I *love* my Levi 501s, but if I were faced with your choices, I would probably replace them with travel slacks, which can more easily be washed on the road. I have a pair of khaki slacks from REI that I like.

    It's a small thing, but I've saved space by switching from crew socks (mid-calf) to the ones that just go above the ankle. These socks take up much less space when I'm packing, and I've grown to prefer them. (They don't have that annoying habit of sliding down my leg and bunching up.) I prefer the ankle socks that stick out a full inch or so above my shoes; some smaller ones are designed to match the shoe line, but I find those uncomfortable.

    The electronics are obviously going to be the heaviest load in your bags, so anything you can do to take less stuff will save your back in the long run. Can your laptops share a power brick? Also, are you taking a ton of photos? If not, I sometimes fully charge the camera battery before I leave, and then leave the charger at home. You can take hundreds of pics without a recharge, which for most people is plenty. (Also, since Canons are popular, someone else might have the same charger, and you could borrow theirs.)

    One general note: If you're trying something new (whether it's a new travel shirt or powdered toothpaste), always test it at home before taking it with you -- it may not work for you. I tried the powdered toothpaste but hated the taste, so it never went on a trip with me.

  10. #10
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    The Aeronaut is my favorite bag of all time. It holds what I need, easily slides in and out of overhead compartments, and the Absolute Strap makes it a joy to carry through airports.

    At various times, my "personal item" to carryon has been the Brain Bag, the Smart Alec, and the Ristretto Messenger (now that I have a MacBook Air). Even with a fully-packed Aeronaut and fully-packed Brain Bag, I've never had a problem with flight attendants telling me to check one of the bags -- Aeronaut in the overhead compartment, and Brain Bag underneath the seat in front of me.

    Of course, on smaller regional planes, the rules change, and I have had to check my Aeronaut at the plane. But there's not much to be done about this, and it seems that this results in far, far fewer incidents of lost luggage.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
    It's a small thing, but I've saved space by switching from crew socks (mid-calf) to the ones that just go above the ankle. These socks take up much less space when I'm packing, and I've grown to prefer them. (They don't have that annoying habit of sliding down my leg and bunching up.)
    I agree with the short socks. I wear SmartWool PhD's. These are awesomely comfortable, are neutral grey in color, won't stink, and dry quickly. The only exception to this for me is if I need dress socks, I'll bring a pair of Smartwool black dress socks.
    http://www.amazon.com/SmartWool-Runn.../dp/B0013KIH5Q

    Quote Originally Posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
    The electronics are obviously going to be the heaviest load in your bags, so anything you can do to take less stuff will save your back in the long run. Can your laptops share a power brick? Also, are you taking a ton of photos? If not, I sometimes fully charge the camera battery before I leave, and then leave the charger at home. You can take hundreds of pics without a recharge, which for most people is plenty. (Also, since Canons are popular, someone else might have the same charger, and you could borrow theirs.)
    Something I just thought of: there are numerous brands of "universal" chargers out there. You buy the brick part, and then you can buy different charging tips for phones, laptops, mp3 players, etc.

    E
    There are only 3 kinds of people in this world -- those who can count, and those who can't.

    Proud Owner of: Aeronaut, Empire Builder, PC Flyer, Tri-Star, 3 Absolute shoulder straps, 2 Freudian slips, Braincell, and many various pouches and packing cubes...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BJ Nemeth View Post
    The Aeronaut is my favorite bag of all time. It holds what I need, easily slides in and out of overhead compartments, and the Absolute Strap makes it a joy to carry through airports.

    At various times, my "personal item" to carryon has been the Brain Bag, the Smart Alec, and the Ristretto Messenger (now that I have a MacBook Air). Even with a fully-packed Aeronaut and fully-packed Brain Bag, I've never had a problem with flight attendants telling me to check one of the bags -- Aeronaut in the overhead compartment, and Brain Bag underneath the seat in front of me.

    Of course, on smaller regional planes, the rules change, and I have had to check my Aeronaut at the plane. But there's not much to be done about this, and it seems that this results in far, far fewer incidents of lost luggage.
    Thanks for that post, I have always used a Brain Bag/Large Cafe Bag carryon combo and was wondering if an Aeronaute/Brain Bag pair could be used for
    longer trips.

    I already have an Aeronaute so I know how great they are, but it is one in
    the "vintage" grape color.
    All grape TB items stay at home when they are put into nice use.

    Given the news about the brand new designs, I am holding off buying an Aeronaute, Western Flyer or both in Steel until the new line up is unveiled.

  13. #13
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    Feb 2009
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    Thanks For All of The Replies

    First, I never expected my post to get put on the blog.

    Second, I really do appreciate the replies. Based on what I've read here and on the recommended links, I've cut my packing list down to this:

    Working clothes:
    2 pairs of coveralls
    1 pair of black safety toe boots
    3 white undershirts
    1 Khaki belt


    Casual Clothes:
    1 pair of Khaki pants
    2 Long sleeved shirts
    3 pairs of underwear
    3 pairs of black socks

    Workout Clothes:
    1 T-shirts
    1 running shorts
    1 compression short
    Garmin Forerunner 405
    Heartrate monitor
    1 pair running socks
    1 pair running shoes

    Shipboard items:
    1 pair of shower shoes
    1 pajama bottom
    1 towel

    Toiletries:
    1 Shaving cream
    1 razor with replacement blades
    3 oz shampoo
    3 oz body wash
    1 body scrubber sponge thingie
    1 toothbrush
    1 toothpaste

    Worn on plane
    1 pair of khaki pants
    1 long sleeve shirt
    1 REI jacket with removeable liner
    1 underwear
    1 pair black socks
    1 pair RM Williams boots
    1 black felt hat

    Electronics
    1 personal laptop Acer Aspire One
    1 Ipod Nano
    1 cannon powershot
    1 cell phone
    1 LAN cable
    Power cords/bricks for the above

    Laundry
    Clothesline
    Sink stopper
    Woolite

    All of which fits into my new Crimson Aeronaut and Black/Steel/Wasabi Empire Builder.

    I'm using a large and two small Aeronaut packing cubes. My running shoes fit in one end compartment. My safety boots fit in the other one. I put them in the "bottom" end compartment when the Aeronaut is worn backpack style.

    In the Empire Builder, I'm using an end packing cube for the Aeronaut to pack one each of the coverall, white t-shirt, socks and belt listed above. A sapphire Snake Charmer keeps all of the cords in check.

    My work cleared me to use my laptop for work, so I'm down to just the one. A size 7 horizontal brain cell has been ordered, until it arrives. I've got a neoprene sleeve and the clothes stuffed end cube for padding.

    I'll post pictures later.

    Cheers

  14. #14
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    Feb 2009
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    Two carry-ons lhr?

    You've already done it once, so it must have worked, but I thought security at lhr was adamant about only one carry-on. Not so? I was planning to route around England for just that reason.
    I'm jealous--you've got a nice pair of new bags. Many happy miles to you!


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