I am always looking for ways to avoid checked baggage fees.
That means I'm always trying to figure out a way to carry on what I need: a small-ish rolling suitcase, a backpack filled with my journalistic accoutrements (laptop, still camera, video camera, notebooks, pens) and a purse.
Trouble is, the carry-on limit is two items (a suitcase and "small personal item such as a purse or backpack" - not a purse AND backpack).
I have tried several ways to solve this problem. I have flattened my purse and crammed it into the suitcase only to have it arrive at my destination completely mishapen. I have stuffed it into a crevice in the backpack, only to have the zippers strain to close. I have left my purse at home and put the essentials (wallet, sunglasses, cell phone and Advil) in the backpack, then been forced to carry the backpack everywhere I went once I arrived at my destination.
Now I may have found a solution, thanks to Jean Newell.
She is a former realtor who found herself juggling five electronic gadgets. She needed a "professional tool belt" that would hold her stuff. After months of looking for something, she finally gave up and invented one (clearly she is more motivated than I am, since I never got further than complaining about my problems).
She sent me the PUP (personal utlity pouch) in black and the giZmo in vanilla cream (off white). Each has zippered compartments and several outside pockets to hold and organize all the things we moms carry. They're bascially the same, except that the giZmo is a little bigger, the fabric is different - the PUP is made of soft luggage material and the giZmo is microfiber - and the giZmo has a "lockable zipper" to ward off pickpockets. Both can be worn as messenger bags, fanny packs or purses.
And both will lay flat to be packed in a suitcase or backpack, then used as a purse once you reach your destination. The PUP sells for $19.95 and the giZmo sells for $24.95.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.