I'm a sucker for finding good quality, long lasting, useful and ingenious products.. the kind of products I go around designing inside my head (only to find that someone beat me to it ;) )
Well here are some things I bought before my trip that I LOVE and I'm sure you will too...
Many moons ago, one of my friends bought her daughter a Trunki suitcase. When I first saw it I wanted one! I just LOVED the idea that you could sit on it and I am only a teensy weensy bit over the weight limit of 50kg (like seriously, how many kids weigh that much anyway?) I got overly excited till I finally saw one in a luggage/bag store and realised how small it was, and how I would probably break it if I sat on it. Ha! (not to mention look a bit ridiculous riding it anyway as I'm too old and too tall for it).
Still, I became OBSESSED with the idea of finding a suitcase I can actually sit on without it breaking. After extensive research there was only ONE brand out there: The Zuca. It seemed a bit pricey for such a small suitcase, but let me tell you, it's worth its weight in gold!
Zuca Pro (Artist) small trolley suitcase
I have since carried it from Sydney, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Paris, France, and then on the train to the little town where I live. As well as that it has come with me on ALL my train journeys around France. It's the perfect size for a weekend away and I usually travel with it only half full so I can use the extra space for purchases or just for my great big winter coat.
Why is it so great and why did I buy it?
1. The main reason as I mentioned is that it has a seat which holds up to 300 pounds (136 kg) which is pretty much everyone except the obese and giants. I have lost count of the number of times I've seen weary travellers eyeing me with curiosity and jealousy that I'm sitting and they have to stand because there are no seats anywhere! (in airports and train stations).
Apart from the fact that you can sit on it, because the top is dead flat, you can put anything on top (eg another bag) and it won't fall off! With other trolley cases you have to slide your other bag over the handles or tie it on somehow. Not with the Zuca! It's great that you can put anything on it without worrying it will slide off (and trust me this is super handy when you are using public toilets and there is nowhere to hang your bags, coats, etc).
2. It fits all airlines' size requirements for a carry on luggage, and it is extremely strong yet lightweight. It has inline skate wheels which roll so smoothly and over any kind of surface easily.
3. It comes with these cool packing cases which function almost like 'drawers' making it easy to find just what you need. I don't use all of mine though. When I first arrived in France I used the cases for all my electronic gadgetry - cables, cords, battery chargers, CDs/DVDs, etc and 1 or 2 for toiletries/cosmetics. I got the "Artist Pro" which has slightly different cases.
I did extensive search online to find the answer to a seemingly easy question and here's the answer: What is the difference between the Zuca Pro, Zuca Sport and Zuca Pro Artist?
The Zuca Pro is the standard one and comes with packing cases for clothes (which have mesh sides).
The Zuca (Pro) Sport is for carrying iceskates and is cheaper, and not as hardwearing, and does not fit airline size requirements for carry on luggage. But also, it comes in a myriad of colours and patterns to choose from, and it does not come with the packing cases. It comes with 2 sets of wheels for climbing stairs which is great (the normal Zuca Pro does not).
The Zuca Pro Artist is the same as the Pro except it comes with packing cases which have clear thick plastic sides instead of fabric mesh (to contain spills for makeup because it's designed especially for makeup artists). I chose this because I wanted more protection for anything I wanted to put in it (and not just clothes). I do believe it would add slightly more weight to the bag overall though, if that's a concern of yours since the cloth/mesh ones would weigh slightly less.
4. It is excellent excellent quality because I have literally dragged it over every surface you can imagine and over stairs and it still survived. This includes concrete, gravel, asphalt, cobble-stone steps, pebbley paths, grass, sand, etc etc. I barely survived but at least my suitcase did! ;)
5. It also comes with a nice padded cover for protection against the elements and to make the seat softer. I don't really use it though, except when I travelled through the airports.
Right now I'm actually using it as a bedside table as it's just the perfect size and I can easily move it around by the wheels and put things on top :) It has multiple uses!
If you recall my post about AirAsia ... well I ended up taking them between Malaysia and Singapore and they have a rule that you can only carry 1 hand luggage weighing up to 7kg. Now I had a big problem with this because my laptop weighs 2kg, my SLR camera weighs 1kg (more with accessories), and then there are my clothes, shoes, and normal every day things. And it wasn't that I had a problem with paying for check-in luggage (in fact I did on the way back) it was that I just didn't want to check in anything!! I didn't want anything to get damaged or lost (or stolen!) etc sooooo I ended up getting this Scott-e-vest. It's rather expensive for what looks to be a normal jacket but it really did help me a lot on my flights.
Since I weigh less than the average adult, I've ALWAYS had a gripe about paying excess baggage fees. Always. I do not think it's fair that I should have to pay extra when I do not weigh as much as others. Therefore, if I put the extra weight on my person, it's not counted, right?
It actually all started from Sydney when I tried to walk through customs wearing this Scottevest (and another winter coat over it - I was sweating like crazy). I had my mother make me another large pocket in the back of my jacket for my laptop - yes, my laptop! and in the pockets I had crammed various objects... so much so that I arose a LOT of suspicion and the security guards at customs gave me hell, x-raying all my bags and my 2 coats and emptying every single pocket out of my backpack, etc etc, and detained me for about 30 minutes and I almost missed my flight and was almost in tears (but hey, that's another story another time ;) ) ...
Yes it was a bit of a pain security wise but I managed to get on quite a few extra kg on that flight (with Malaysia Airlines) as well as with my AirAsia flight so all was good in the end. And the jacket is not bad looking and quite warm too. My only real gripe with it is that it's designed for a man, and although it fits me well in the body the arms are HUGE. It's like it was designed for a man with Popeye biceps or something!
There are many different models of the jacket to choose from... here is a good review of one. One of the reasons I chose the Fleece 5.0 is because it has 24 pockets! I don't think I even managed to find them all and the funny thing is, you tend to forget what you put in the jacket and where you put it...
It's definitely NOT really a jacket I would wear out every day (although I have) only because of the massive upper arm sleeves but for the purposes I bought it for (stupid airline baggage rules) it has worked a treat!
Since I bought it they've come out with some new models too... I hope they come out with more female ones.
Travel power adapter
Last but not least... I bought this adapter from seller "keyhere" on eBay).
It accepts "any" ("any" meaning the major countries) country going in as well as going out and it also has an USB so you can use it to charge USB appliances. Bonus! Similar ones in stores cost around $30 and on eBay it's only around US$5. I'm tempted to get a second one now as I usually need one for my laptop and my camera battery charger when I'm travelling.
Well, I hope you liked my reviews...