Business Travel, Gear and Tech

Longing for Luggage: Form plus Function


According to my online shopping history, I’m a man.  As someone who has been using the ladies room for over thirty years, I’m a bit shocked to come to this realization.  Clearly, I have a lot of apologizing and explaining to do–mainly to ex-boyfriends.  Sorry, guys!

You see, I’m looking for a functional-yet-stylish carry on set.  My first search was for a personal-item backpack or messenger bag.  Something that will carry a Macbook and a dSLR camera; ideally something that is checkpoint-friendly.  There are many, many bags like this suited for every style and personality.  There are crunchy granola-type messenger bags, like this one:

There are sleek leather options, like this one–though it is a computer bag, it is still quite beautiful (but note the man-hands):

There are rugged and metro-awesome canvas bags like this one (that I actually really want, man-purse or not):

To be fair, the company that makes the bag pictured above–Ona Bags–does make bags for women.  But they are camera bags only, and cannot accommodate even a small laptop.  Almost perfect, Ona Bags, almost perfect.

There are even geeky, super-functional bags like this one:

And they are all styled for and marketed towards men.  I found two supposedly checkpoint friendly bags designed for women.  The first one wasn’t even technically checkpoint friendly.  And it had a bloody poem written on the top of it and a flower embroidered on it.  Bitch, please.

The second was just insulting–they took a man’s briefcase and made it pink.  Because, apparently, women like pink.  We just can’t get enough of it.  Pink, pink, pink, 24/7.  Wretch.

Which begs the question–where are the stylish, designer bags for female business travelers?  I know female business travelers exist–and I assume that if a man is willing to shell out upwards of $300 for a stylish bag, many women would be, too.  Why should we be forced to carry a man-purse–or worse, the flowered monstrosity pictured above?

Were I a bag designer, I’d get on this market quickly.  Here’s what this female business traveler is looking for:

Form Plus Function:  The Three Bag Solution

I’m tired of constantly packing and unpacking; I want one place to keep everything I need no matter where I am–at home or away.  One of the most stressful things about leaving on any kind of trip is The Changing of the Purse–that is, switching from the bag (and wallet) I carry every day to the bag (and wallet) I’ll carry when traveling.  Because I carry an extremely travel-un-friendly purse–a white leather Coach shoulder bag–taking it with me on a trip is a non-option.

At the same time, I’m looking to make traveling as easy as possible.  I don’t want to check a bag.  I don’t want to schlep a heavy backpack through countless terminals (seriously–US Airways Gate 20C at the Philadelphia airport is at least a half mile from where you check in.  I am confident of this.)  I need to bring a variety of electronics everywhere I go.  And I want to look good doing all of these things. Thus, I am looking for:


My super-not-practical (but oh so pretty) everyday purse.

1.  an everyday purse that is small enough to fit inside a personal item but that is still stylish enough to use every day; think stylish, well-organized clutch with a thin (or removable) strap.

2.  a personal item that ‘s equipped to carry a 13-inch Macbook pro and a dSLR camera (and the small everyday purse) which can be attached to the handle of…

3.  a small rolling carry-on bag that isn’t so big it will be repeatedly gate-checked.

Bonus Features:  

-I’d like the everyday purse to be leather.

-I’d like the personal item or the rolling bag to be checkpoint-friendly–meaning I’d not have to take my laptop out of it to go through security.

-I’d like the wheeled carry-on to have at least two separate compartments–one for paperwork and one for clothing.

In a perfect world, all of those things would coordinate.  And ideally, none of those things would be made out of black nylon.  That last part is the dead end–everything practical is made from black nylon.  Case and point–what appears to be my best bet for a personal item–this as-ugly-as-it-is-functional backpack from Lowepro.  It is perfect for my needs.  It has everything I want in an under-the-seat personal item.  It is reasonably priced.  And it is so, so ugly I can’t make myself purchase it.

So basically, I’m looking for one magical purse, one multi-functional backpack or messenger bag, and the perfect business travel wheeled carry-on.  And I want them all to coordinate.  And I want them all to be made out of quality fabric and in a classic, simple design.  I don’t want to look or feel like I’m too busy to care about how I look–even if that may be the case.

Suggestions anyone?

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