Most Useful Things I Brought On My Cruise: No. 3

Here’s number 3 in my countdown of the five most useful things I packed for a recent 16-day cruise: a collapsible day pack.

The backpack folds up into a compact pouch.

The backpack folds up into a compact pouch.

This nylon Baggallini pack is pretty simple — just one medium-sized bag with an outer pocket and webbing straps. It’s not the most comfortable or best-looking pack, but then I’ve never been all that stylish a traveler. The pack is wonderfully practical, though, because it zips compactly into its own pocket so that you can throw it in your luggage and pull it out when you need it. A snap-down flap over the drawstring closure adds security.

We didn’t use this on the ship, we used it in port. In Bermuda and Valencia, we took it on rented bikes. In the Bahamas we took it to the beach. In Punta Delgada and Malaga, we carried it when we went out on foot.

The bad news is that I can’t find this expandable pack for sale anywhere. There are some reasonable-looking alternatives out there, including the Trek Light Bindle Pack for $27. If you prefer a tote bag, Baggallini still sells expandable totes that zip into their own pockets. You can get them on eBags for $45.  I own a couple and have given them as gifts.

Here’s a tip: Never put your wallet in a backpack or day pack. Or if you must put the wallet in the pack, don’t put it in the outer pocket and carry the pack in front, no matter how nerdy it makes you look. We use hidden wallets for cash and credit cards and keep bulkier items in the pack. The operating principle is that we should be able to continue our vacation without substantial disruption if it the pack were to disappear. The most valuable things we could lose would be our point-and-shoot cameras — a disappointment but not a disaster.

Here’s a trick: If you keep an expandable pack or tote in your suitcase at all times, you’ll always have a handy extra bag for gifts and souvenirs on the way home.

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