Best Travel Bag… Ever!

Best Travel Bag… Ever!

I recently acquired a shoulder bag in Thailand, and I love it. This post explains why I think my shoulder bag is the best travel bag ever, as well as some of the down-sides and how I over-came them.

Before getting my shoulder bag in Patong Beach, Thailand I was carrying my 35L packaway day-pack everywhere. I wanted to switch because I was finding the 35L cumbersome, and since the creation of the Survival Fitness Plan I realised that training with that on was not very good.

My Uncles in Malaysia carry around bum bags (fanny packs) as do many people (including one of my best friends in oz). I figured that one of them would fit everything I carry in my day pack (with some slight modifications) and be loads easier to train in. I was right.

My Requirements for the Best Travel Bag Ever

Like most things I seek out to purchase I have certain requirements that must be met. For someone like me who dislikes shopping, having a set of requirements makes it easy. If the item meets the requirements I buy it, if not then I walk away – of course sometimes compromises have to be made if I can not find exactly what I want but need something to do the job.

Anyway, onto my requirements for the best travel bag ever.

Best Travel Bag - Front Pocket Contents - Survive Travel

Front pocket contents

Fits Everything I Need Inside It

Yes and no. It fits everything I carried in my 35L (later in this post I detail what I carry around) except my Asus T100 (laptop) which I carry occasionally, however, I have found a good work-around for this which I will explain later on in this post.

It also does not fit my 1.5 litre water bottle and instead I have swapped it for a much smaller one (no more than 700mls). To be fair, when cruising the streets of an urban area I never need more than that and if I do, I’ll just buy another bottle of water.


My shoulder bag has two compartments and the main one has two zips so I can lock them together. Like all my bag locks, the lock is small and probably not to hard to break, but it is better than nothing. If the thief really wants my stuff he/she could just cut it with a knife, but if my bag is sitting next to someone else’s and mine has a lock, even if it is a pissy little one, then the one next to it without a lock is a much better target.

Also, I would never really leave it just lying around in public. The lock is more for if I am in a crowded area.

To me a bag lock is just a deterrent, so any cheap thing will do.

I Can Carry it on My Front

Another good security thing is it is very easy to just swing my shoulder bag around to my front. This is also extremely convenient for getting stuff out of it. No longer do I have to take by bag of my shoulder to open it.

Also, when I do have to carry my bigger bag it is much faster to just swing it onto the front and put my other bag on my back. I suppose I could have put the day pack on my front also but I never did. Instead I used to take all the non-pliable stuff out of it, roll it up and put it in my bag, or attach it to the bottom if there was not enough room. It only took me a couple of minutes but on the plane – off the plane – on the bus – off the bus, etc. It was a little annoying.

Able to do Survival Fitness Training In It

One of the big things in the Survival Fitness Plan is training for reality. Part of that means that if you habitually carry a bag around, then you should train with it on. Unless, of course, you are willing to discard the bag, which I am not.

It is way easier to train with my shoulder bag than my 35L. Other than the fact that I am carrying much less weight in water, the snug fit and compactness means that when I jump around, like when doing parkour, there is much less weight displacement.

Best Travel Bag - Shoulder Bag - Featured

F*in love my shoulder bag… sometimes I even train with it on.

Disadvantages of My Shoulder Bag

Here are some of the downsides I found with my new best travel bag in comparison with my 35L packable and how I justify them.

It is Another Thing I Have to Carry

This is not a replacement item. I still see the value in keeping my 35L daypack – it has served me well and will continue to do so. Since it is not a replacement it means it is an extra item, which is a big disadvantage for a minimalist, but I feel the benefits overcome this.

Update August 2016: I gave away my 35L daypack a few months ago in Bali. I have not missed it.

It Doesn’t Fit as Much

In the picture above my best travel bag ever contains everything I would usually carry but there isn’t much room leftover. I overcome this though by including two plastic bags, which also act as good water-proofing if I need to cross a river or something. Also, I have those side netting pockets if I need them.

The one big thing is that my 35L easily fit my laptop and my shoulder bag definitely does not… but I solved that – two fold.

My first solution is that I installed a bunch of apps so I can basically do everything with my phone (now I am considering getting a better phone). It is not as fast as on my computer, but very convenient.

My second solution, for those times when I do want my laptop, I just fasten it on using a plastic belt and the clip on the dry-sack I keep it in. This makes it even better than my day pack because if I needed I could run or fight with this on. I think I will get a new dry-sack though, one that is not beacon – bright yellow, because if I am running from someone then that might kind of make me stand out.

Minimalist Packing List for World Travel - Survive Travel - Shoulder Bag with Laptop

My laptop strapped to the back of my shoulder bag. I just need a different color for the dry-sack.

It Takes Longer to Deploy my Umbrella

This is actually quite a big deal for me because my umbrella is also my go to weapon. With my 35L the umbrella fit in the side netting. I could also buckle it secure with the side straps of the bag if needed. Unfortunately the netting on my shoulder bag is not quite as deep and it has no buckle. I could still put the umbrella in it but if I had to run it would probably fall out.

Not to mention that now I have a new umbrella which my friend in Thailand gave me. It is lighter and the top is bigger than my other one, but it is also a tad longer. Another thing is now I keep the cover since my friend pointed out that when it stops raining you put the dry cover on so when you put it back in your bag it doesn’t wet everything else.

I have found though that keeping the cover on it makes it better for its use as a weapon, and if I ever feel at risk then I will get the umbrella out and just walk with it in my hand, ready to go.

Have I convinced you that a shoulder bag is the best travel bag ever? Well then get yourself a shoulder-bag NOW! 🙂

What are your thoughts on the best travel bag ever? Share your opinions in the comments 😀 .

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