Help solve my chaotic packing and luggage choice issues

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Dec 23, 2012
I'd really like to tap into the collective wisdom of the AFFcommunity to see if I can improve my packing (and maybe bag choice).

Firstly some background -

I'm a WP - 99% of my flights are in Y. The majority of myflights are DRW-SYD-DRW (mixture of QF and JQ) but I generally have 2 or 3longhaul trips a year (again in Y). I often travel with only carryon. I've done2x 2 week long trips to Europe this year with only carry on.

Here's what I typically take:
· 1 x tablet (+ charger)

· 2 x phones (thankfully both have the samecharger so only 1 charger)

· 1 x noise cancelling (although they were only$60 so they are really just noise reducing) headphones

· 1 x paperback

· 1 x small toiletries bag (n.b. no liquids - Itake the attitude that all the liquids I could need can easily be bought fromany convenience store at my destination)

· Typically I will only take the shoes I wear onthe plane (but if I do have to take a pair of black lace ups then I have a pairof super light Grosbys (bought at big w for $30 - this is my hot tip - theshoes are really comfortable, particularly light and at $30 perfect for thoseone off occasions on the road)).

· Limited clothes - maybe a spare pair of pantsand 2 additional tops plus a jumper as necessary.

I've more or less settled on this duffle bag (which initially started as my gym bag) my carry on of choice.

I've resisted the urge to get a rollaboard because:
· the dufflebag weighs next to nothing empty(whereas a rollabord is going to be at least 2kgs out of my 7-10kg carry onallowance).

· I invariably shoot for the exit row - whichmeans bags have to be in the overhead locker - squeezing a flexible/squeezableduffle bag in seems easier than a rollaboard which has limited 'squishability'(I'm notorious for being one of the last to board and like having my bagproximate so I can get stuff in and out)

· I've never had an airline staff member ask toweigh it - even when every man and his dog is having his/her rollaboard weighed(I must admit sometimes the bag weighs considerably more than 7 kilos on theway back from overseas trips)

But … it does have some drawbacks -
1) It can be quite a pain schlepping the bag on my back.Coming back from my last trip to Europe I had quite a nice bruise across myshoulder from where the strap sat as I rapidly made my way through LHR T5 totry and make a tight connection (the bag would have been quite a bit heavierthan 10kg though).

2) It's just one big space and stuff seems to just rollaround in there - I wind up being that annoying person who spends ages lookingfor his passport/keys/pen/noise cancelling headphones in the bag.

3) I've recently been copping a few wise guy comments aboutmy bag when turning up to meetings (it's a much more discrete blue than the redone in the link above but nevertheless is very obviously a sports bag). Ireally wonder whether I really should be looking the part with a less casualbag.

Here's where you can help:
A) I'd love to hear your thoughts as to whether I should geta decent rollaboard or a different duffle type bag (heck even a well-designed backpackwould work). Specific suggestions are especially welcome.

B) Can anyone recommend any decent vacuum/compression clothingpacking bags? Preferably ones that don't require a vacuum. I've tried abouthalf a dozen different ones and they always start off compressed but by thetime I get to my destination they have decompressed and expanded to normalsize.

C) Can anyone recommend any good/neat solutions for keepingthings together and organised on the road. At the moment I seem to just keepthings together in an assortment of amenity bags - one for the chargers andadaptors, another for my passport and keys. My flight booking details, googlemap printouts and anything else that I have pre-planned typically just getsprinted and clipped together with a bulldog clip and then disposed of along theway. It's all a little bit chaotic.

D) Anything else that you think would be useful? I'm really all ears.



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Senior Member
Apr 15, 2009
The bag I tend to take is a little more than a backpack with wheels and a handle. It's a noname brand which I got at one of the bag stores here in CBR. So not exactly hard to find. It wasn't exactly expensive at just under $60, but it (along with headphones) are by far the best investments I've made with traveling.

It's pretty understated in that it's a mix of grey and black. It has both wheels on it so you can roll-a-board as needs be (and it looks a cross between road warrior and professional when turning up on client sites), and it also has backpack straps which can be unzipped and pulled out from the top / clipped in at the bottom so if you don't want to look like a tourist 30 seconds later you have a normal backpack. It's got soft sides so it can be squeezed into overhead bins.

There are quite a few pockets around, so things I need to find quickly such as pens, or things I would want whilst traveling such as earphones or medication can simply fit in the top. Whilst on the plane I'll sometimes place my keys and wallet in the top as well, but I wouldn't do it whilst walking around a city.

Perhaps just go into a baggage store and look at what they have in for small carry on bags with loads of pockets.


Active Member
Aug 5, 2013
I use essentially a duffle and usually only carry on too;
It's way flashy and overpriced, but i guess thats my style (sadly).

I know exactly what you mean about the pain and the bruises though, happens all the time. I was about to swap to one of these;
Samsonite Firelite 55cm Spinner

But my WP friend who travels a lot for work and gigs uses something similar to this;
Packaged Mobile Office - Packaged Business Pieces - Business - Bag Finder
I see a lot of these around the airport with elite status luggage tags, so id say they are the go... The only draw back as far as I could see is that they are smaller than a duffle.

At the end of the day I you wouldn't need to spend the hundreds on the proper brand either, you could just pick a type of case and hunt for the generic brand version. I will be using the Samsonite hardsided carry on for my xmas trips this year, and from there if it still doesnt work will look into those pilot cases/mobile office cases.

N.B. I should also add that my parents recently made the switch from LV Hardsided to Samsonite Cosmolite due to how heavy LV was, and despite the occastional complaint from my mother for it not being as flashy (their samosonite is still bright red) they swear by it for both checked bags and carry on for the amount of room and how light they are.


Jan 11, 2008
Ditch the paperback and buy a 5 inch Kobo e-reader. At 134 grams it's smaller and lighter than a single book. Fully charged it will last an entire trip - although mine uses the same charger as my phone anyway. You might want to consider a dual sim phone.

I use Sony noise cancelling earphones. Not as effective as headphones but a lot less bulky and easier to sleep with.

I use a clothe shoe bag to carry everything I think I will need in the cabin. It just sits on top of my backpack so it can be easily pulled out when I board and stuffed back in for landing.

I have a small clothe bag into which all my charges, adaptors, and cables go. Whenever I leave somewhere I make sure this bag is complete - it then goes into the bottom of my hand luggage and is never checked in. Nothing more useless than lost luggage and a flat mobile.

Paperwork - I keep documents in Marbig plastic sleeves (ref 20042). If I have multiple documents and sleeves I bundle them up into Marbig Doculopes (ref 20150). Neither weigh much and I find they are better solutions than the normal sheet protectors (that you stuff documents into for storing in folders).

QF Domestic - remember you are allowed two 7 kilo bags. So you could carry a smartish backpack for work and a small bag with your clothes, toiletries, etc. When flying Virgin I ask at check in if they mind that I don't check in my second piece (which is always small). I've never been refused yet - although I do make sure the bag is padlocked, etc in case they do. If flying Tigerair you can have two bags totaling 10kg.


Junior Member
Mar 9, 2011
Try looking at . This chap specializes in travelling light and it sounds like you are already doing a lot of what he recommends. You are certainly going down the correct route by not using a rollaboard, both for the weight it uses, and the squezability as you say.

I would make more use of 2 bags, and inside a bag use 'sub' bags to put important items together. That way you are not hunting for items in the whole bag.

He does make a comment that if it is too heavy then you are packing too much. :)
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