Although I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert traveler for both business and pleasure, I’m admittedly guilty of not being the best packer. On a recent European jaunt, I visited two different countries with two entirely different climates. At my mother’s recommendation (she was once a travel agent, so I happily defer to her on such matters), I purchased vacuum-sealed travel bags, so I could cram as much as possible into my checked luggage. It was a great idea, except I didn’t have a vacuum with which I could seal the bags for my return to the States, so rushing to throw everything together the morning of my departure from London was quite stressful.
I had also accumulated a lot of things over the course of my journey, from books to shoes. Upon my arrival at the baggage drop at Gatwick, the IcelandAir representative alerted me to the fact that my bag was way over the weight. By how much, I’ll never know, as it was in kilos and, quite frankly, they might as well have been gazintas. The nice Icelandic lady attempted to explain to me that I could move some things to my carry-on so I wouldn’t have to pay a fee, but my carry-on was a small backpack, so nothing more would fit. I was stuck paying more than $100 in fees on an airline that promises a free checked bag.
So, in order to avoid this headache on a future flight and to prevent cramming everything into a giant suitcase for a Canadian excursion in two weeks, I conducted a bit of crowd-sourcing. I asked my friends on Facebook, “Where can I buy a weekender/duffel bag for women that is NOT Vera Bradley? ” For those curious about the gender caveat, I don’t care for Vera Bradley’s bags and most of the carry-ons I see are designed with men in mind.
I got some great responses, so I’ll share with you the best ideas friends offered (after I filter out the sarcastic replies from my pals who see social media as their stage at improv night):
My friend Brandi recommended the brand Everlane for a fashionable, durable bag. Everlane promises that all their bags fit into a carry-on compartment (that is, unless the airline forces you to check the bag when you board, anyway). This is the weekender I ended up buying. I especially like that they break down the pricing, so you know the difference between the value of the item you’re buying and the item’s list price. Items from Everlane ship for free, too.
Kate Spade Saturday
I’ve got a few Kate Spade purses in my closet, as every gal in the Washington, D.C. metro area does, so Kate Spade Saturday was a natural place to look. They even let you design your own bag! Kate Spade Saturday claims it’s cheaper than their main line, which is true, but a small weekender is still going to start at around $150. The great thing about this bag is that it includes a secret compartment at the bottom of the bag for your shoes, as well as pockets to secure smaller items, like a tablet, and a detachable bag to organize your jewelry. If you give them your email address, they’ll send you a 15 percent off code for your first purchase.
My friend Lauren recommends L.L. Bean’s tote, explaining, “It’s my favorite and everything fits. Washable. Durable. Customizable.” Upside: it’s not terribly expensive and you can design the exact bag you want. Downside: it doesn’t close and even the extra large bag doesn’t seem like it could hold all my stuff for two days. You can add a zip top for $10, which isn’t too bad considering the bag is well-priced. Of course, it wouldn’t be an L.L. Bean signature bag without the monogramming, too!
Fashionista and conservative magazine editor Jim Swift recommends Eddie Bauer. Since this guy’s got style, I knew I should put Eddie Bauer on this list. For the more adventurous traveler (say, to the Andes or to that bar in the Shock Top commercials), the Zen Tote is a great choice. And at $70, it’s a pretty good deal. If you grab some other items, your shipping will be free ($99 or more).
Blogger Emily Zanotti recommends LeSportsac. She says, “They last forever and they’re much less expensive than a designer bag.” Prices range from $100 to $168 for a weekend bag. Plus, you’ll get 20 percent off your first purchase if you give them your email address!