I snagged this backpack after hearing my colleague Chelsea Stuart sing its praises. I had a trusty (now discontinued) InCase backpack I used as a personal item and served me well on dozens of trips for about five years. But I wanted a bag for some upcoming travel (2.5 weeks in Europe with *just* carry-on for five flights) that opens up like a suitcase for easier packing. Since buying, I've taken it on two long weekend trips (Amtrak to Newport, RI, for a wedding and regional train to a CT country lake house) with no complaints. In fact, for both of those trips I packed MORE than I needed.
Inside, you'll find a mesh zippered pocket and a plastic pocket perfect for your toiletries. I can fit enough wet toilet toiletries in the second pocket as I'd be allowed to carry-on for a plane. In the mesh pocket I put other necessities like cotton swabs, medicine, eye glasses, etc. The main compartment is deceptively deep so you can easily roll clothes and Lego-fit them in together without using packing cubes. In fact, I fit all of the stuff in the second picture in that section (a romper, PJs, a bikini, sunscreen, five pairs of undies, a pair of jean shorts, nap dress, three pairs of socks, two pairs of sandals, two T-shirts, a slip skirt, sleep mask, curling iron, mini flat iron, makeup bag, and tote bag). AND it has stretchy X-straps to keep it all secure like you'd see in a roller suitcase so when I unzip it, everything stays put. But before I forget, there's a separate cushioned laptop pocket close to the backpack straps that I found works well for books or a Kindle if your travel leaves you laptop-less.
I love that this backpack has DEEP side pockets so your umbrella or water bottle won't fall out. In fact, I stuck a flashlight and an umbrella in one side pocket. (You could always use a flashlight.) Plus! It has a generously sized pocket on the front of the backpack with easy access for sunglasses, snacks, writing pens…all sorts of those little extras you need to access quickly. To top it all off, the backpack straps and top handle are STURDY. I felt totally secure toting it around and slinging it into overhead storage compartments on the trains. I love the look and construction of it with faux leather and sturdy black canvas, and the trolley passthrough to easily fit on my roller suitcase I'm about to drag through a bunch of airports. At nearly $80, this isn't the cheapest backpack option but if you're a frequent traveler, you'll get so much mileage on it and seriously save on some baggage fees, making it well worth the cost. This backpack and I are going places, for sure.
NOW when it comes to air travel, you won't be able to put your wet toiletries in the waterproof pocket (as I have in the above pic for a train trip). But! Lots of nonliquid toiletries and essentials fit in there just fine.
Get it from Beis Travel for $78 (also available in beige).