I’m not talking about my check-in luggage or carry-on trolleys. I’m talking about the bags I like to use after I’ve already stowed my luggage in the hotel room and I’m busy exploring the streets of my travel destination.
Looking through years of travel albums, I noticed I tend to use the same baby backpacks and sling bags. I chose them not for the labels, but because they’re sturdy, anti-theft, flexible, and the design fits my personal fashion. They’ve become a significant part of my travel adventures.
1. Yadu Traveling Bag
I got this as a gift back in 2010 when Yadu was still located in Makati’s hipster joint, The Collective. Their eco-friendly, Filipino-made designs use upcycled materials, such as vintage clothes from thrift shops. I use it as my airline carry-on or day bag when I’m off to the beach or a whole day of exploring. It’s easy to roll up and stuff into my luggage when I don’t need it anymore. This bag has sunbathed in the beaches of Hawaii and endured cold Christmases in Tagaytay.
2. Tommy Hilfiger Canvass Tote
I purchased this for less than US $20 at an outlet store back in the early 2000s. Mama and Papa love taking us to outlet shops whenever we’re in the US—it’s a Filipino thing! This Tommy bag is worn out and has been washed so many times. Mama sometimes jokes, “That bag is so old!” But I can’t part with it. I’ve taken this to many places both in and out of the Philippines. It has a detachable sling, extra front pockets, and a collapsible boxy space. It looks small, but I can stuff my passport, wallet, travel-sized toiletries, scarf, raincoat, and a small umbrella in it—plus more!
3. Yadu Baby Backpack
This is the last Yadu bag I purchased before they moved out of The Collective. It’s even smaller than my Tommy tote, but it has so many pockets to help me segregate my travel essentials—toiletries like hand sanitizer and tissue go in the front pockets, wallet and important gadgets stay inside the main zip, and travel maps and ticket stubs are usually stuffed in the back slit.
4. Nine West Sling Backpack
Papa bought this for me many years ago. It’s another outlet store find from the US back in the day, and my sister has the black version. And yes, she still has it, too! Oh, the stories this bag can tell! I’ve taken it to theme parks, malls, dates, long drives, and outdoor escapades. I can tell it’s at that condition where the fabric is ready to tear any time soon, but I’m praying that this baby will last me many more adventures.
5. Hand-painted Jansport Backpack
The college girl in me never faded away. When I attended a press junket for Jansport many years ago, they gave us writers classic Jansport backpacks spray-painted by graffiti artists. I didn’t like the generic floral design on mine, so I asked my artist friend, Paolo Icasas, to knock himself out and paint “something that’s me” on the bag. He took it literally. This bag scares my sister (Is it my crazy eyes?) but it has been my loyal travel buddy for years. In case you lose me at the airport or a crowded place, don’t fret. Just look for my big curls or this backpack standing out from the crowd.
Take a look at your travel albums for the past 5-10 years. Look at the bags you used—those almost unnoticeable totes and backpacks in your photos. Then look through your closet to see if they’re still there, gathering dust at back. Whip them out and see if you might have left a old ticket stub or boarding pass tucked in one of the pockets. Let a surge of memories go through you.