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Thread: Wirecutter Guide to Traveling Well

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    Wirecutter Guide to Traveling Well

    Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that the WireCutter Guide to traveling well mentioned in today's blog post. has a number of interesting recommendations for travel items (pillow, umbrellas, etc.), in addition to naming the Tri-Star as the best non-roller carryon bag.

    moriond

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    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Saw this last night...a helpful website...and great review of the TS.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    So glad you posted this, moriond. We're fans of The Wirecutter around here, so it was great to be included in the guide.
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

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    From the blogpost recommendations:


    Things I know that works:


    The Tristar goes without saying, I actually had to stop myself from buying a second in Nordic.

    Packing cubes, my travel experience can be divided into three phases before Tom Bihn Bags, before Tom Bihn Packing Cubes Shoulder Bags and Backpacks (the freezer bag era) and after color coded Tom Bihn Packing Cubes Shoulder Bags and Backpacks

    Stowable tote or daypack, for conferences or long travel: S19, Co-Pilot, Pilot preferably in Dyneema, for sightseeing: Tom Bihn Packing Cubes Shoulder Bags and Backpacks, Shop Bag.

    Toiletry kit, TB Clear Quarter Packing Cube, 3D Cubes (it's that color coding again!)

    Travel water bottle, Lifefactory bottles passed TB tumbling on concrete test.
    They are wonderful on flights to transfer the content of pretty full plastic glasses which looks like a hazard when wobbly trays, turbulences and ever leaving seats neighbours force one to juggle with them in a tight space. They are also great on car trips and I imagine equally useful on trains or boats trips.

    Wire/gadget organization system, TB Clear Quarter Packing Cube, 3D Cubes, Travel Stuff Sacks, Travel Tray. It is very hard to beat flexibility, lightweight, beautiful colors and durability in one family of products. After a while, storing a particular power brick or such, in its designed container becomes routine and one can pack on auto-pilot if needed.


    The Griffin Tech USB kit, I have a similar USB kit which is very useful and fits really well into a Small Organizer Pouch.

    Plug converter, a must if one has electronics and travels to different countries.


    Nalgene bottles are great!

    I use polyester/nylon microfiber, cleaning oversized cloth from Trader Joes as padding for fragile stuff (that was before the Padded Pouches were available), quick drying of hand washed laundry...

    Flip-flops or other lighweight and waterproof shoes are a must to protect oneself from the hazard of hotel/hostel rooms and public place floors.



    Things I am willing to try:


    Binoculars, the Nikon model looks good but I'll ask Monkeylady before buying any model.

    Waterproof camera, The Panasonic photo/video camera looks really sweet, it needs further investigation. And forum member opinions.

    Multi-socket power strip and USB travel pack, I'll probably find them locally and ask fellow forum members if they have experience with the available brands.

    Travel sewing kit, I need to make one from a TB 3D cube and individual small bobbins but that looks a bit bulky for travel.
    A set of sewing needles pre-threaded with long strands of threads matching the color of the traveler's garments should suffice for any trip. The sewing needles can be kept in their slim original container and housed in the smallest TB Knitting Tool Pouch. A pair of kid's scissors is always a good thing to have.



    Things I know do not work:


    Vacuum packing clear plastic bags, they are expensive and the zipper on the seal will pop out, at the least appropriate time (while packing for a return trip with a bag full of conference handouts or souvenirs). Freezer bags do exactly the same thing, can be reused and are much cheaper.


    Purpose-made fold-up toiletry kits, do not work as they are too bulky and/or restrictive.
    The 3-1-1 liquid rule makes them obsolete for air travel.
    They can, however, be re-purposed to hold children activity items on car trips. New ones can also hold snacks and drinks.
    Last edited by backpack; 04-23-2014 at 11:34 PM.

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    I'm actually surprised they recommended the Ebags packing bags. I ordered those, they were very very heavy. I sent them back.

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    Definitely a convert to packing cubes - I have a few friends who say they only add weight and bulk to a bag, but it means I can easily pull out and put back my laptop at airport security. What sold me on them, however, was the first time I used packing cubes TSA didn't like the look of something in my carry-on under the X-ray scanner and proceeded to empty my large backpack out then and there - could have been very embarrassing - and re-run everything. I think I would have missed my flight if I didn't have the packing cubes when I needed to put everything back.

    For those wondering - what looked suspicious was 2 bags of coffee I had in a large ziploc - and the fact that I packed "too densely."

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    TSA once thought I had too many snack bars (Mojo, Lara, Luna, etc - My husband has a high metabolism and needs constant snacks and we were going to the end of the earth so...)

    Anyway, I think packing cubes are great but I think Eagle Creek Spectre Line or the Tom Bihn ones are great a better option. Rick Steves has some on his site that I bet are pretty good as well. The ebags ones felt super heavy compared to other ones I've seen.

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    I agree about the eBags cubes - I use a mix of TB and some LLBean ones that they since discontinued. I know a lot of people like the EC Specter ones, but I prefer packing cubes that zip around on 3 sides - better for organizing and stuffing.

    I think traveling well (and organized) has an on-going learning curve - I'm always willing to try (and adopt if it works) new techniques and products.

    Leena - I had to laugh about too many snack bars - I was visiting friends in Vancouver and took home quite a few DairyMilk and Wunderbar candy bars - stuff I can't get here - that prompted some grins from airport security.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leena View Post
    TSA once thought I had too many snack bars (Mojo, Lara, Luna, etc - My husband has a high metabolism and needs constant snacks and we were going to the end of the earth so...)
    Perhaps that TSA agent was just hungry and wanted one of your snack bars...

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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    From the blogpost recommendations:


    Things I know that works:

    Stowable tote or daypack, for conferences or long travel: S19, Co-Pilot, Pilot preferably in Dyneema, for sightseeing: Tom Bihn Packing Cubes Shoulder Bags and Backpacks, Shop Bag.
    Lani's post about traveling to Japan with just her Synapse 19 references one of stowable Eagle Creek Packable totes that is mentioned as an alternate in the guide, along with various other Tom Bihn and Eagle Creek Specter packing cubes.
    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    The Griffin Tech USB kit, I have a similar USB kit which is very useful and fits really well into a Small Organizer Pouch.
    I also make up a kit of short USB connectors in a Small Organizer Pouch. For short USB to Lightning connectors I use the iBoltz XS cables (purchased directly from CableJive during one of their promotions) rather than the Amazon Basics versions recommended by WireCutter, that have connector bases too large for a few cases. Reliability has been good. Another suggestion for short micro-USB to USB connectors: if you have any of these associated with Jawbone products (Bluetooth headsets or their portable JamBox speakers) these are very good short cables to use, and one side of the connector is flattened to make it easy to tell orientation.
    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    Things I am willing to try:

    Multi-socket power strip and USB travel pack, I'll probably find them locally and ask fellow forum members if they have experience with the available brands.
    @backpack I use the Monster Outlets to Go Multi-socket power strip:
    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Not ScottE22, but I sometimes carry a Monster Outlets to Go powerstrip in one of my Synapse side pockets. I actually prefer the 4 outlet powerstrip(which seems currently out of stock at Amazon, so I've first linked to the 3-outlet version), but is available elsewhere.

    I don't need the extension distance, just the multiple outlets. Also, when traveling abroad, you only need a single power adapter for the main plug of the outlet.
    A few other forum members use this, too. Most recent recommendation I read was by rabergnc:
    Quote Originally Posted by rabergnc View Post
    I also would include a DVI adapter to be safe and a mini power strip - there are never enough outlets. I use something called outlets to go - made by Monster, about 4-5 inches long with 4 outlets. I am not sure this particular one is still available but there are lots of comparable ones on the market for minimal cost.
    Use the "elsewhere" link (to B&H photo) in my earlier post to purchase the 4 outlet model (about $9.49). They do seem to have recently discontinued the 4-outlet model, and shortly before this I noticed that the model picture at Amazon had changed and the ratings dropped. So perhaps Monster started having issues with the production source? The ones at the B&H photo link seem to be the same as the older one I have, and I used this link very recently to purchase another.

    ETA: The Amazon (first) link for the Monster Outlets to Go seems to be currently working (29 Apr 2014; $9.99 eligible for Amazon Prime, although the product is still labeled as discontinued by the Manufacturer), in addition to the B&H Link. Also, the Manufacturer's web page link for this product works, but at twice the price ($19.99).

    Quote Originally Posted by Leena View Post
    TSA once thought I had too many snack bars (Mojo, Lara, Luna, etc - My husband has a high metabolism and needs constant snacks and we were going to the end of the earth so...)

    Anyway, I think packing cubes are great but I think Eagle Creek Spectre Line or the Tom Bihn ones are great a better option. Rick Steves has some on his site that I bet are pretty good as well. The ebags ones felt super heavy compared to other ones I've seen.
    Agree on the comments about the Eagle Creek Specter 2 and Tom Bihn packing cubes. @Leena I tend to put LaraBars into my 3-1-1 bag, so they are visible. For some reason, if they are inside my bags, they get flagged in scans. Maybe the moisture content makes them appear like plastic explosives?

    moriond
    Last edited by moriond; 05-02-2014 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Updated link information for Outlests to Go Extension strip
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    It's funny, because I disagree with many of their 'picks', but find the lists of what they looked at to be very helpful. The "Maxpedition tactical toiletry bag" doesn't appeal to me at all, but I'm giving serious consideration to some of the runners up, as I need to find a hanging bag that works for me. (And it has to be bigger than the TB options; the 3D cube just doesn't do it for me, though I like the built-in hook and use those cubes for a lot of other functions.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by bchaplin View Post
    It's funny, because I disagree with many of their 'picks', but find the lists of what they looked at to be very helpful. The "Maxpedition tactical toiletry bag" doesn't appeal to me at all, but I'm giving serious consideration to some of the runners up, as I need to find a hanging bag that works for me. (And it has to be bigger than the TB options; the 3D cube just doesn't do it for me, though I like the built-in hook and use those cubes for a lot of other functions.)
    @bchaplin I agree that this is a useful guide even in cases where you don't agree with their picks, because they've done some filtering and even if you use different criteria it's always useful to see what someone else who has given some thought to this has chosen. I also recognized some products that I don't use that have popped up in previous discussions (such as travel pillows), where I noticed that some of the criticisms for alternate products matched up with comments made on the forums. The discussions of men's shaving options also seems quite different from the discussions I've read on these forums, and we've had far more extensive and detailed forum discussions about travel toiletaries. Quite interesting reading, and I don't think their selected travel umbrella was mentioned on these forums.

    moriond

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    Quote Originally Posted by bchaplin View Post
    I need to find a hanging bag that works for me. (And it has to be bigger than the TB options; the 3D cube just doesn't do it for me, though I like the built-in hook and use those cubes for a lot of other functions.)
    I agree with this. I like the design of the cubes and mesh cubes very much, but I would like an option that can accommodate larger bottles. Maybe this goes against the idea of light packing, but I for one would find it useful.

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    Registered User bchaplin's Avatar
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    Yeah, on recent trips I ended up with toiletry items distributed all over the bathroom counters, and it takes too long to unpack and re-pack them. Perhaps it all needs to be in one place, including 'dry' items like my brush and razor, in a way that lets you keep everything in the bag so it's quick to fold it up and stash it in your suitcase. I carry travel size items, but end up with a lot of odds and ends. I think it's worth trying a dedicated toiletry bag.

    On my next trip I'll be staying in 5-6 places over a two week period, so I'm all about making it easy to pack up and go.
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    Would a clear quarter packing cube work for you? I recently used one on a trip to pack dry toiletries, first aid kit, meds, etc. I had to do a separate 3-1-1 bag for liquids and so just had two bags on the counter. The clear quarter packing cube doesn't have a hook, but it does have a fabric loop which you could rig with a double carabiner if you needed to hang it.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

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