Quick Tip: Don’t Advertise Valuables

You’re a good vigilant traveler. You’ve packed your bags and secured them with a TSA approved lock to protect its contents. It’s all good, right? Keep believing that if it makes you feel better, but everything I just described could actually make you more of a target for theft. To begin with, locking your bag only provides you with a false sense of security. Unless you’re one of the few remaining travelers who still have hard-sided luggage with uniquely keyed locks on the latches, you’re probably more vulnerable than you think. If you have a bag with a zipper, it doesn’t take much to get into your bag and not even leave any evidence that it happened, all it takes is a ballpoint pen. By placing a lock on your bag, you’re telling thieves and unscrupulous baggage handlers there’s something worth stealing in that bag, even if there isn’t. But you also don’t want to just leave it unlocked and risk a zipper becoming accidentally opened or someone putting something in your bag. So what can be done? Continue reading

Quick Tip: Ring My Bell

I got this idea from a backpacking trip with Sheri. We were hiking through bear country, so I had her put a bear bell on her backpack. The tinkling of the bell was supposed to announce our presence to bears in the area. (I joked that it was the dinner bell for the bears!) That night, we were sitting around our little campfire when we heard the bell sound. I turned my light towards the sound just in time to see a raccoon dragging Sheri’s pack down the path. If not for that bell, we might not have known her pack was even gone. Continue reading

Quick Tip: The Plastic Shuffle

On our travels, we’re bringing a few forms of payment: credit cards, ATM card, and cash, in small and large denominations. For our credit cards, Sheri will carry two cards, our primary card and one other. I will also carry two cards, our primary card and another totally different card than what Sheri has. That way, if either of us has our wallet stolen, we cancel two cards and still have another credit card that can be used until we can get the others replaced.

We thought about doing the same with ATM cards, but concerns with express kidnappings have made me think twice about carrying another ATM card that kidnappers could also drain. In an emergency, we can get a cash advance on our credit card, but only if we have and know the PIN.

Pacsafe Camsafe Venture V16 Camera Slingpack

Pacsafe Camsafe Venture V16 Camera SlingpackSince there doesn’t seem to be an ideal backpack for our travels, I thought that maybe I should concentrate on the expensive things that should be protected. I still like the idea of anti-theft bags and decided that I should try another Pacsafe product after giving such a poor review of the Venturesafe™ 45L GII Travel Backpack. I’m glad to say that this bag is much better than the previous one I reviewed. I think this one will be the one to go with me around the world.

I looked at the comparably-sized Pacsafe Camsafe V17 Camera Backpack (Black) and the slightly larger Pacsafe Camsafe V25 Camera Backpack (Black). Both had very similar features, however, because I already will be using a backpack as my main bag, this sling bag is narrow enough that it could be awkwardly hung in front of me between my other backpack straps when I need to carry both bags for more than just a few minutes. To begin, let’s start with what I like about this bag.


This camera bag has a 16 liter capacity and can hold a full-size DSLR with a mounted lens along with a second lens. It could also easily accommodate a mirrorless system with room to spare. Since I’ll be bringing a Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 and a 12-24mm f/4 lenses, the size was perfect. This bag is geared for the more casual photographer and not a pro, so if you plan on bringing something larger and faster, such as 70-200mm f/2.8, you may have to reconfigure this bag, carry the big lens in a pouch in the main compartment of this bag, or simply find a different bag. The main compartment is divided mid-way by a drawstring closure, that can be opened up to make it one long compartment. The main compartment is big enough to also carry my large 100×150 filter bag with filter holder and adapter rings, as well as enough clothes and toiletries for a 2 -3 day excursion. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking My Dream Backpack

With all the travel we’ve done, our closet resembles a luggage store filled with past lovers. That rolling bag whose fancy wheels I fell for is now just a drag to take anywhere. That huge hiking backpack carried everything I could ever want, but was always such a gold digger when it came to airline travel. That incredible fling with that daypack was short-lived and bound to fail. We just didn’t have anything in common. I won’t even begin to talk about the waist pack that brought out my feminine side. I don’t discriminate and have just about every size, style, and shape of bag that you could imagine, yet nearly every trip is different and requires a new bag. It’s not that I’m fickle. Either my existing luggage has certain deficiencies that I discovered after spending a few weeks with it, or the bag I really like is beginning to fall apart and won’t survive a month on the road, much less a year. I’m very demanding and hard on my luggage and that’s probably why I haven’t found my perfect match.

So I’m back on the market and searching the usual places. There’s nothing like a big trip in the future to peak my excitement. With it comes an opportunity to fine tune all my travel gear. Shopping around for a new travel bag is almost like the excitement of a first date, with the renewed promise of finding another perfect travel companion. In addition to the perfect travel companion I married, my travel bag and I will be spending a great deal of time together so we need to be truly compatible. Sometimes everything clicks and it’s true love, but more often there’s something missing or you find a fault you just can’t overlook and you start over. Too bad there isn’t an eHarmony site for luggage. Continue reading

Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L GII Travel Backpack

venturesafe-45l-gii_60320606_1This review is also posted to the product page on Amazon for the Pacsafe Venturesafe 45L GII, Navy Blue, One Size. I bought this bag wanting to have the security features. I tried hard to like it, but several things really stood out that made me have to return it. I loaded it up with mainly clothes (sans laptop) and carried it around for about an hour to get a feel for it. Here’s what I thought.


The security features of this bag are a very compelling reason to get it. It’s the only reason I didn’t give it a one-star rating. The exomesh throughout allows you not to worry about your bag being slashed. The unique zippers prevent someone from using a ballpoint pen to pop it open and the zipper pulls combined with the locking mechanism would thwart the casual opportunistic thief. It also comes with a small wire cable to attach the bag to a fixed object. The security was well-intentioned.

The size is just about right for a carry-on bag and I was able to put nearly all my stuff into it for an RTW journey without it bursting at the seams. The bag’s main compartment completely unzips to allow easy packing and removal. The main compartment has a full-length mesh pocket on the lid and a 4-point stabilizing/compression strap inside. There are also outside compression straps to help squeeze it down to carry-on size. The outside also has two attachment points made of a rubberized fabric that appears to be sturdy enough to strap something to the outside.

The shoulder straps and hip belt stow behind a semi-rigid plastic back panel making it easier to put into an overhead compartment on a plane or when you want to check your bag. Continue reading