February 19, 2012

work bags

For me, there is a never-ending search going on for the perfect work bag. I need the functionality of a briefcase: a safe place for my computer, and organized storage for my pens, chargers, paperwork, et cetera. I need straps that won't dig into my shoulder and I'm hustling through the airport or going in and out of meeting rooms.

But, there is just something about the black, nylon briefcase that just isn't my style. First of all, it doesn't match my navy work uniform. Secondly, as a loud-and-proud bag enthusiast, a plain old briefcase is just too...obvious.

When you travel for work, whether it be from your home to the office or from your home to a different part of the country, you need a bag you can count on to keep you in order. Your handbag is something that represents your style, and that holds your essentials. But who's to say your work bag can't be equally as stylish? It's problems like this where I wish I had the opportunity to be able to design my own bag from the ground up. I know exactly what I want, but it seems to me like it just hasn't been designed yet.

Until then, I'll have to make a list of attributes I require and then find something that best matches my needs. My ideal bag would have structure - no flopping over every time I set it on my desk. And, I don't want my stuff just swimming around on the inside. I need pockets. Maybe even divided sections; a padded section for my laptop, and a thinner section for paperwork. I need a sturdy strap, since my work bag tends to be heavy. I also need it to be fairy neutral.

When I say neutral, I don't mean "plain." You just don't want your bag to be the most obvious part of your outfit. It's painfully unchic to see a woman carrying a bag that pattern clashes with her ensemble. All that work picking out a classy and stylish outfit, and it's ruined by the bag.  You want something that compliments your style.

Here are just a few bags I've seen over the past few months that look like they might fit the bill:
                                                                                          Glad for Plaid Laptop Bag - $55

                Always at the Top - $90
{this bag doesn't necessarily have all the organizational benefits
like the others possess, but come on. Look at it. }
With an opening of 15", it could fit a smaller laptop or iPad. And it's durable!
This one's on The List.

February 05, 2012

how to live out of a bag

I'm notorious for having a neat and organized suitcase while I'm traveling for work (and for pleasure). If you aren't at all interested in how I stay organized on the road, you might want to move on. However, if you are interested, here's how it works!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I love living out of a suitcase. Everything you need is all in one place, and you can pack it up and move on at the drop of a hat. I will say this, the suitcase should be easy to move. In my case, that means that I need one with wheels. Some people prefer a large duffle bag, but I find that a little too difficult to drag in and out of hotel rooms and vehicles, and definitely harder to keep organized.

The second most important thing about your bag is the amount of pockets. I need many, many pockets. The top, mesh section is used for clean undergarments and socks. One of the two shoe pockets I use for used socks and undergarmets. The other shoe pocket keeps my flip flops, which need to be easily accessible since I wear them out and I also wear them inside to make sure my bare feet never touch the hotel carpet. I find that two mesh pockets in the main compartment are better than one, but you gotta go with what you've got. I use those inside pockets to keep my belts, large bangles (that don't fit into my jewelry box), spare face-cleansing cloths, a tiny clutch, and a small bag with things I don't need every day, but usually find myself needing at least once every trip. This bag has Band-Aids, Neosporin, Downey spray, Benadryl, and things of that nature.  

The outside pockets (usually there are two on a roller-bag) are equally as important. The top, smaller pocket holds my chargers, my hotel-reward cards, and my gloves (if it's cold out). I like to be able to get to that stuff while I'm standing in line to check in. Keep in mind, though, that chargers should stay in your carry-on when your flying. You don't want to get delayed at the airport with a dead phone battery! The larger outside pocket holds my workout gear. This may or may not be true, but I feel like the clothes can air out better since its closer to the outside. Also, nobody wants their stinky workout gear mixing with all their clean (or semi-clean) clothes. 

The main compartment is obviously the hardest to keep organized. But, with a little effort, its not that bad. I always have a bag for my shoes. There is no telling what germs are lurking on the bottoms of those shoes. You can also use shower caps to cover the bottom of your shoes. I prefer a large dust bag (you know, the kind that comes with nice purses) to keep all my shoes together. But, my slippers stay in a shower cap. I also have a larger, plastic, zippered bag to keep my full-sized hair products. I know that smaller, traveled-sized products are cute. But, when you travel a lot, you start to realize those little guys end up costing a ton! I just stick with regular-sized.

Now, break the main compartments into four smaller squares. In the right two squares, I made two stacks of clothes: work clothes and casual clothes/jammies. That's just how I like it. You could do tops on one side, and bottoms on another. Whatever works. On the left bottom square, I place my toiletry bag. The shoes go in the left upper square. In whatever spaces are left between the squares, I tuck in my hairbrush, jewelry box, and any other smaller items. You've got to make sure all the space is filled, even if you're only going to be gone a few days. Empty space in a suitcase makes room for everything else to wiggle around, and clothes will get wrinkled. Make use of those straps that hold your stuff in place, those will also help things stay put when the bag is being tossed around through airport security. 

Once you've got an organized suitcase, try to keep it that way. Take the extra few seconds to fold your shirt and put it back in it's place. You'll appreciate it when you're running late for Check-Out.
Any and all paperwork and work-related stuff stays in my briefcase, which conveniently fits right on top of my suitcase. You'd be surprised how quickly I can pack up my stuff and get outta there (whether it be a hotel room, a burning building...whatever).

So, there you have it. Not a thrilling article, that's for sure. But, hopefully I've helped you organize your suitcase a bit. 

Travel safe!