I was a month old the first time I was on a transatlantic flight. I haven't stopped traveling since. I didn't have any Tom Bihn gear back then, though I probably could have fit in the Aeronaut (don't try this at home!). I now own and routinely use several TB bags and accessories. In fact, I am writing this from a hotel room, on a business trip. Four days away from home with only my Aeronaut and my Ristretto bags to carry my gear.
I love that I can pack so much into these bags and they still don't look or feel big. I love that I don't have to check bags when I fly. I love that I can easily manage the bags from my wheelchair. The Aeronaut fits nicely on my lap. I've been known to also wear it as a backpack when my lap was already occupied by a large suitcase. I also love that the bags are so solid. They have withstood rubbing against my wheelchair wheels, salty winter slush, and the inevitable being thrown around during trips.
I'm on the road often. Whether I'm attending conferences to speak about web accessibility, meeting with legislators, or simply touring around for pleasure, I take out-of-town trips once or twice a month. Nowadays I only bring what fits in my TB bags. But that doesn't limit me, because I can fit a fair bit in the bag.
Between both bags, I managed to pack
- a suit jacket,
- two dress shirts,
- two pairs of dress pants,
- undies and socks for each day,
- a couple t-shirts,
- a polar fleece vest,
- dress shoes,
- fleece slippers,
- my toiletry bag,
- my iPad, Kindle, phone, chargers, pens, and other odds and ends.
Plus of course what I wear on me while traveling. And I still have room in my bag to pack a few more things!
I combine Eagle Creek accessories with my Aeronaut to be able to fit so much in. I especially rely on Eagle Creek's garment sleeve and small garment folder to ensure my clothes look fresh when I arrive, particularly my suits and dress shirts. I used to think packing cubes were useless until my wife started using them, and then I saw the light! I now use packing cubes extensively to organize and stuff things in the bag and/or to sort clean from dirty clothes.
I also use the Key Straps in my Ristretto quite a bit. Balancing bags on my lap as a wheelchair user can be tricky, and finding a set of keys at the bottom of the bag trickier still. With the key strap, pulling the keys out is always straightforward.
I realize this post reads like an ad for Tom Bihn, but I am just a very satisfied customer. Our household owns three Aeronauts, one Ristretto, one Co-Pilot, one Large Café Bag, a MacBook Air Cache, a couple iPad Caches, Organizer Pouches, Packing Cubes, RFID Blocking Passport Pouches, and several other accessories. We even have the dog treat bag. It's good, solid, well designed gear that lasts and allows us to travel light without leaving things behind.
Nicolas Steenhout is a disability rights advocate and web accessibility expert and consultant. A long-time resident of New Zealand, he is now the Executive Director of Vivre Dans la Dignité in Montréal, Québec.