Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to Maximize Personal Item Space

Last week I discussed how to pack for a 12-day multi-city international trip in a single carryon. Not an easy feat, but entirely possible and quite liberating: no worries about lost luggage; no lifting heavy bags up several flights of stairs; no waiting in long lines at the baggage claim area.

This week I will share how I maximize the space in my personal item, and what I choose to carry with me on a daily basis.

Most airlines allow passengers to bring two items onto the plane for an international flight: a carryon, which will fit in the overhead compartment, and a personal item, which must fit under the seat in front of you.

While most travelers choose a backpack for their personal item, I must confess, I am not of that generation. I prefer to bring a book bag. One is not more "right" than the other ... it is entirely personal preference.

I've owned this Vera Bradley bag for almost a decade, and I love the six interior pockets for organization. Knowing where everything is located is now second-nature to me. I can't imagine using anything else.

The interior space is ample enough to hold such key items as my DSLR camera and walkabout lens (the Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens ) .. my iPad (which I use for writing during free time and as a backup storage system for my photos) ... my bullet journal (which is now as essential to me as breathing) ... and my ExOfficio Storm Logic jacket (which also folds into a travel pillow).

I also include a cinch bag, rolled tight with an umbrella wrapped within. This is the bag I will carry with me on a daily basis. It is easy to pull out once we land... and it is lightweight to carry around the city for hours on end.

The six interior pockets are filled with essential travel items. The large pocket in the back contains my kindle and its charging cable. The large pocket in the front holds necessary camera supplies: an extra battery, the battery charger, and an SD card carrying case with several extra memory cards.

One of the smaller pockets holds my mobile charger and cable, which I can use as an emergency power source with my iPhone or iPad. Another pocket keeps the charge cables for the various Apple devices. On the other side, one pocket keeps tissues, chapstick and an emory board, while the last pocket is reserved for gum and mints.

Once we land and prepare to tour the city, I take out the cinch sack (with pre-packed umbrella) and my coat. Depending on the weather, I either wear the coat, or store it in the cinch sack.  I make sure to carry tissues and chapstick with me at all times. The DSLR camera fits around my neck.

One other essential item is a money belt. I found one that is large enough to hold my phone (since pickpockets are so prevalent), some spare cash, and a debit card. There is even room for a passport, if desired.

The belt lies flat on my belly and is well hidden beneath my shirt. It is easy to access when needed, but not cumbersome.

At this point, I am ready for a full day of sightseeing fun.

* * *

This is the fifth article in my Leading a Student Group Tour to Europe series.

Next week I will discuss how the Worst Experiences make the Best Stories.

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