On the Road with the Eee PC

Friday, August 8, 2008

I'm off on a ten-day trip to London, Toronto and Ottawa. I'm visiting friends in London, seeing friends and family and hopefully doing some Big Trip shopping in Toronto, and attending a conference in Ottawa.

I'm looking at this as an excellent chance to try out a bunch of Big Trip related gear, including the Eee (on which I am composing this right now, quite comfortably). I'm also bringing a lot of the clothing I plan to travel with, and I'm in possession of a new MP3 player, the Creative Zen Stone Plus with speaker (more on this in a separate post). Because this trip will include three cities in ten days, and feature travel by air, train and public transit it should be a decent test of everything from luggage and clothing choice to on-the-road laundry, internet access and footwear.

The bag I'm traveling with on this trip is the eBags Weekender Convertible, purchased online for $74.87 from eBags.com. In this context, convertible means that it can be carried by a handle like a suitcase, but also has stow-away straps that convert it to a backpack. I've also added a shoulder strap that gives a third option. I bought this particular bag because I was keen to get my hands on a convertible carry-on sized bag and the price was right. I'm skeptical that the eBag has the wherewithal to stand up to the rigors of 12 months of heavy-duty traveling, but for my purposes right now, it's sufficient. I'll write a detailed post about my top luggage contenders at another time, but my current picks are the Rick Steves Convertible Carry-on and the Tom Bihn Aeronaut.

I'm also carrying a day-pack that I'd hoped to fit in to the eBag so that I would truly be one-bagging but logistically that seemed tricky. I need to figure out a way to have a small daypack packed with on-the-plane essentials that will fit in the carry-on, but be quickly and easily extracted once on the plane. What prevented me from doing that today was the fact that the daypack seemed a bit bulky to be crammed into the eBag. More research is required.

I tried to weigh my luggage this morning - including the eBag and the daypack - using the highly scientific bathroom-scale method, and it looked like my total luggage weight was about 28 lbs. This is far too much – I'm hoping to be near or under 20lbs in total. Later I weighed the eBag alone with a luggage scale at the travel gadget store in the airport, and it was about 22lbs. I'd really like to get a proper luggage scale for testing all this out. More research is required.

While I'm in Toronto I'm hoping to hit the Tilley store to pick up 3-4 pairs of their “Unholey” travel socks (guaranteed for 3 years, and light enough to dry overnight!). I'll also look at convertible pants and collared shirts. My other big quest is for the perfect pair of shoes. Ideally I'd find a single pair of shoes that is comfortable enough to wear all day, every day, and that's also waterproof (or very quick-drying), and dressy enough for a dinner out, and rugged enough to take on safari or to hike the Inca Trail. A tall order indeed.

In case it's not abundantly clear by now, one of the things I'm really enjoying about planning this trip is figuring out exactly what gear to bring, and how to pack it. There's really nothing I like better than a good bit of planning, and the next ten months are going to be all about planning. Stay tuned for posts about all the various bits of gear, clothing, and luggage that I'm planning on taking.


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