Packing for your study abroad trip is no easy task. Luckily, our experts have taken the guesswork out of what bag you should choose. The best bags allow you to carry on, especially now that most airlines charge for checked baggage, are lightweight enough to carry comfortably, have multiple compartments to allow easy access to important items, and have several carrying options.
Wheeled bags are very popular for domestic travel for obvious reasons. They are easy to drag along in the airport, on the sidewalk, and down the street, right? While wheeled bags are great for domestic travel, many foreign countries do not have smooth, concrete or paved sidewalks and roads. Depending upon your location, you may be dealing with cobblestone, broken pavement, or even dirt. Attempting to catch the bus while saddled to a bulky, heavy, wheeled suitcase is not our idea of a good time!
Fortunately, Patagonia, a leader in travel clothing, luggage, and equipment, has designed two bags that are perfect for study abroad. Known as the Patagonia MLC (for “Maximum Legal Carry-on”) these bags have all the key components. The original Patagonia MLC is a soft-sided suitcase that is made from heavy-duty polyester and coated with a durable water repellent finish. There is a main compartment and two zippered compartments to hold travel documents, keys, and the like. The MLC has three carrying options: ergonomic backpack straps that tuck into a zippered compartment when not in use, a split shoulder strap to carry over your shoulder, and two carry handles.
The second bag in the series, the Patagonia MLC Wheelie , DOES have wheels. Why do we recommend it? Because it is soft-sided, allowing easier stowing in overhead luggage bins, but especially because it also converts into a backpack. This superior bag has all the features of the original MLC, but has a couple more compartments, including a padded laptop compartment. The Wheelie has a T-shaped pull handle, a fabric carry handle, stow-away backpack straps, and “mud flaps” that fold down to cover the wheels when you are using the backpack option.
With airlines increasingly charging extra for additional luggage, choosing to carry on can be a real money saver. Now that you’ve purchased the best bag out there, the trick is to learn to pack efficiently for your trip. Some helpful eBooks are Foder’s How to Pack and AmeriSpan’s Ultimate Guide to Packing.