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Packaway / Stowaway Travel Items

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy. We have always checked our bags, however, our intent is to only use carry-on rollers and small backpacks. We have already purchased the Rick Steve's Roller Bags during one of his sales. As I replace old items I have been buying items that stowaway into themselves or pack up into a small pouch. It's amazing how small some of these items can pack into.

Has anyone else purchased items that pack into themselves or stowaway into small items?

I'm trying to find a women's packable raincoat. I currently use LL Bean's raincoat, but it can be rather bulky to carry around if I'm not wearing it. Has anyone found a nice raincoat that packs into itself?

Here are some of my items that I was able to get on sale or clearance:

Eddie Bauer's Packable Duffle: We can use this bag to bring home any treasures we purchased during our travels, and we will check our Roller Bags. http://tinyurl.com/EB-Packable-Duffle

Windbreaker: http://tinyurl.com/CR-Windbreaker

Eddie Bauer's Crossbody: To use when we don't need to carry our backpacks, but want a small bag to carry snacks, rainjacket, gloves, tickets, maps, etc. (Passports and Money will be stored in Neck Wallets)
http://tinyurl.com/EB-Crossbody

Packaway Vest: http://tinyurl.com/LLB-Packaway-Vest

Packaway Jacket: http://tinyurl.com/LLB-Jacket

Posted by
327 posts

I am very happy with my women's Downlight® StormDown® Jacket from Eddie Bauer. It packs away very nicely and kept me warm at the top of Aiguille du Midi.

Posted by
2109 posts

Regarding the rain jacket - when are you traveling? Do you really need a raincoat? It may be a small travel umbrella will suit your rain shelter needs. I personally travel with just one coat - a solid black REI jacket like this one. But I'm from Oregon and we have a different relationship with rain than most people.

As for the other packable items - while they are super cool and fold down into neat little packets, be sure you really need them in the first place. Each takes up space/weight and you don't want half your bag full of packable items that never come out of the suitcase. Besides my main backpack carry on sized bag and my day bag/purse, I personally only take one small fold up tote bag and a small grocery bag (like this). I find that if I have the space I will fill it up - and that defeats the purpose of traveling light.

Posted by
630 posts

Hi CL, thanks for the reply and the link to the raincoat you use (it seems nice and similar to my LL Bean raincoat). I won't be taking all those items - I was just trying to give examples of what I have purchased in the past.

We will be travelling to Venice, Rome and Naples in October. I'll probably just bring a few short-sleeved dry fit shirts as a base layer, a few top layers, a vest, jacket, and raincoat. My husband uses a vest, windbreaker (instead of a jacket), and a raincoat. He doesn't get as cold as I do. We've hiked in Alaska and he was wearing shorts the entire time LOL.

I have layered this way on past October travels, and it seemed to work out nicely. The vest really keeps the body cavity warm, and I really need the raincoat in case of downpours. I really don't like to be cold, so I need a waterproof raincoat for the days when it may downpour. Plus it works well as a heavier windbreaker on the windy days. I'll probably just bring the LL Bean raincoat that I currently have. It's one size up so fits over my layers nicely.

Update: I just read the REI reviews on the jacket you have. I like how it's stretchy and flexible - something the LL Bean raincoat doesn't have. I'll check out the jacket the next time I'm near my local REI. Thanks :)

Posted by
630 posts

CL, how did you create the URLs? I could only figure it out by using tinyurl.com.

Posted by
32109 posts

Pilgrim,

For adding URL's to posts on the forum, use the globe symbol above the post window. Past your link into there, add a descriptive term and voilà!

Posted by
6471 posts

Ever since our RS tour back in 2013, we've only used a carry-on bag and occasionally a backpack for several 2-3 week travel trips to Europe since that time. Space is definitely a premium. I'm thinking that you are packing too many bulky items - vest + jacket + windbreaker. I would definitely drop either the vest or jacket. I've been in Switzerland when it was cold, and I was able to stay warm with a micro-thin warm top and a shirt over it, plus my rain coat. Tights under my pants also kept me warm.

The small storage pouches shouldn't be a deciding selling point. You could also use a gallon Ziploc bag. If you're not familiar with packing cubes, I think you would like them. They're mesh & can hold a stack of shirts, for instance, to organize your suitcase contents.

You will love Italy! Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
630 posts

Thanks, Jean. I probably will drop the jacket and stay with only the vest and raincoat. I love the vest as it really keeps my back warm and I can just use the vest on semi-warm days. I'm always cold, so I can continue to wear the vest in restaurants. Plus the vest is reversible, so I'll have two vests in one :)

I'm determined to only use a carry-on and backpack, so I know I will have to make sacrifices. I'm sure I will love the light load and will never go back to checking a bag - I just have to get through the "first time." LOL

Oh, I have some ultra-light packing cubes and I love them. :)

Posted by
1008 posts

I will be taking this rain jacket with me to Italy this summer but I don't think I paid this much for it. Only 12 ozs, packs up very small. As my tote bag, I'm taking this one from eagle creek, convertible to a backpack. The one I got is a screaming green colour, but it was half price. The tote, the EC Lync 20, and a small cross-body purse (not in that hideous colour) will be all of my luggage. I will be using the EBags ultralight packing cubes inside the Lync 20. I do like the stowaway items you've listed. The EB tote looks like a better choice than the 2-in-1 tote I bought. I might rethink this.

Posted by
548 posts

The crossbody bag appears to be a better option than a backpack, for daily use. (I use a similar Baggallini crossbody bag.) I definitely would not take both, but that's just me. :)

Posted by
630 posts

Hille, my husband uses a backpack and I use a Pacsafe crossbody. Some days I replace the Pacsafe with this nylon crossbody if I'm only carrying snacks - hubby gets cranky if he doesn't eat every couple of hours :) I use the Pacsafe if I'm lugging the iPads.

Posted by
1194 posts

My packable raincoat is the REI Kyoto Jacket. I hiked for several days in the Andes with it in drenching rain. It held up very well. I think it is stylishly cute. While it does not pack into its own pocket, it rolls up and stuffs into a purse just fine. It also stuffs into luggage and backpacks.

My jacket for the same trip was the Patagonia Nano-puff jacket. I also wore it and the Kyoto when I went back to the Midwest for Christmas. They are plenty warm when worn together with a sweater underneath. The Nano-puff stows in its own pocket. It is very small and light, water/wind resistant, and looks cute. You can wash it because it is synthetic. It also stays warm when wet.
I use the Sea-to-Summit packable duffle for my stuff and that works well. It is super teeny tiny and light. In spite of what some claim, you absolutely can stuff it into it's key chain stuff sack.

Posted by
630 posts

Thanks Nelly and Cindy, I like your items. Cindy, I may go to a REI store and check out the raincoat. It looks like it would be a perfect item for me, and the detachable hood is a nice feature. Thanks :)

Posted by
4082 posts

.."my husband uses a backpack ... [I use] a nylon crossbody if I'm only carrying snacks - hubby gets cranky if he doesn't eat every couple of hours".. Ahem. Maybe hubby should carry his own snacks in that backpack.

Or better yet, and our preferred way to enjoy where we are, stop every couple of hours and get a snack and something to drink. There will be plenty of places in Venice, Rome and Naples to do that in a tasty and delightful way. We figure that by not carrying snacks, we will be forced to slow down -- always a good thing. Last trip (Istanbul and Greece), I carried/wore a small cross body and my husband carried/wore no bag of any kind at all.

One thing I do take that folds into itself and can go in even the smallest of purses or in a pocket is a mesh or nylon shopping bag. That's for stopping by the market on the way back to the room and getting snacks or water to have in the room. Reuseit doesn't have the ones I have anymore, but this cross body one or this mostly shoulder one sure look appealing to me.

Posted by
630 posts

Hi Lo, I like your idea of stopping every few hours for snacks, but the only thing worse than a grumpy husband in a museum is a grumpy HUNGRY husband in a museum LOL. He never thinks he will need snacks when we are in the hotel getting ready to leave for the day (because he just had a full breakfast). Then four hours later - bam - he's hungry and we aren't even close to a place to eat and I don't want to leave the venue just to get something to eat. We've been together over 30 years and I've learned the hard way - it's easier to keep snacks in my bag for when the hungry horrors strike. It makes my life easier LOL - everyone is happier.

Posted by
13225 posts

I have the Marmot Precip Nelly has just gotten. I think it actually works better to have a ziplock bag in my purse and fold the jacket up in to that. It lies flatter and does not seem to take up as much room as trying to stuff it into the pocket. The ziplock is also useful for when it's been raining and the jacket is damp but you want to put it away while you are inside a museum or other venue. I've used it in very heavy rain and it is wonderful.

The only con is that it is slightly crinkly sounding fabric. It is much less crinkly than my previous waterproof jacket but more crinkly than my longer Eddie Bauer rain coat which will not fold small enough to stash in my purse.

Last Fall I used the Eddie Bauer Travex Connect wallet a lot. I bought it mostly to wear overnight on the plane as I travel solo and sometimes feel anxious about leaving my stuff under the seat. I don't usually put my passport in my money belt until I get thru Immigration at my destination. I wound up using it a lot in UK as it was pretty rainy a couple of days and this fit well under my raincoat.

Posted by
1008 posts

I forgot my favourite stash away item! I have a pair of collapsible, foldable hiking poles. 11 oz. They have rubber tips only, no metal tips, so they fly in the cabin in my carryon just fine. I used them in Switzerland last trip and plan to use them in Umbria and Val de Susa this year. They help me enjoy my trips with less achy knees and hips.

And I'm definitely stealing the tip about a ziplock bag for my raincoat. Thanks!

Posted by
630 posts

Pam, I'm going to use the Ziploc bag tip as well for wet raincoats. I too have the Eddie Bauer Travex wallet and love it. Sometimes when I don't need to lug a big bag around locally, I'll use the wallet to hold just my credit card and cell phone.

Nelly, I like the collapsible hiking poles. I could have used them in Alaska. :)

Posted by
630 posts

I'm lovin' the idea of putting the raincoat in a Ziploc bag. I just folded up my LL Bean raincoat and it fits into a gallon-size Ziploc Bag. If I squish the air out, it compresses really small and fits in my cross-body bag (and weighs less than a pound). Thanks for the idea! And the bag will come in extra handy if I need to pack a wet raincoat while we are still out and about.

Posted by
4082 posts

Pilgrim, I run out of steam after about 2 hours, too. Seeing so much is very tiring. Some of my favorite snack places are the restaurants in or associated with museums. No need to leave the venue at all. Take a look at the websites for the museums and museum-like places you are likely to visit. I bet most of them will have someplace to rest a bit, complete with food and drink for sale. They are probably not going to be too happy for you to sit on a bench and eat or drink anywhere else.

Edit: about a year ago here on the forum there was a discussion about restrictions on the sizes of bags at tourist sights in Rome. So when you check the websites for the places you want to visit, you might scout around for any specific issues with that. Some places we have been required security screening similar to airport screening. Others require that you put anything bigger than a small purse in a locker or check it in a cloak room. Still others don't give a hoot about what you carry in.

Posted by
14144 posts

I just picked up this packable duffel:

Travelon Packable Travel Bag

It seems stronger than my other packables. Opened, it measures 17 x 11 x 9 but because it is lightweight and pliable, it will fit in almost all sizers unless packed to the max.

Posted by
13225 posts

I "think" I might have seen the duffle Frank is referring to at TJ Maxx. They had a number of Travelon products last time I dropped by. If you have one near you, you might check in the purse/luggage section to see what they have.

Posted by
5697 posts

Little shopping bags that fold up into their own bag -- got mine at Monoprix in Paris for about one euro each. Handy AND an easy-to-carry souvenir.