Posted February 26, 2013 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
Sarah Kissel took her beloved Sky Train to visit her family in Taiwan and discovered there are a few kinds of trips perhaps a backpack style carry on bag might not be suitable for. This was one of those trips. Being experienced travelers, we offer a few tips one can employ to remedy the situation. Here’s Sarah with her story.
I have wanted to write a review of the Sky Train, but I haven’t had a good trip with it yet. It went with me to Taiwan to meet up with my mom and visit extended family last July.
I over packed it. Never fool yourself into thinking you’re going to go jogging every morning while visiting family in Taiwan. They don’t understand the concept of jogging so you don’t actually get out of the house, and when you do, the humidity is at 95% at 5 in the morning. Leave the shoes at home.
My Mom, not being a planner, but much more spontaneous than I, decided that she and I would be bunking with a different family member every night. This meant a lot of re-packing of the bag. It became a big pain to zip out the bag, put everything in so that it would fit so I could still carry it backpack style, zip it back up, and then repeat the process every night.
My Mom, being A Mom, gifted me with more than twice the stuff I had brought. While the Sky Train remarkably gobbled up everything including clothes, tea, a billion face products because, "You starting look so OOOOLLLDDDD and you not married yet!"), it became impossibly heavy to carry.
So needless to say, as a carry on bag, it served instead as a check-in on the way home!
My family did not understand the concept of me turning myself into a human pack mule and made many disparaging comments about my beautiful Sky Train. And then threatened to buy me a 32″ Made-in-China suitcase on wheels, which is the exact type of bag I’m trying to get away from. I’m fairly immune to criticism from my very loving family, but I was starting to see things their way (ack! no!) after about Day 4 of re-packing my overstuffed Sky Train.
I do have hope for the Sky Train as a great bag for me for a one-destination trip – such as a business trip where I stay in one place for four days straight and not in a bunk bed one night, a futon another night, and next to my cousin, who snores like a freight train despite being 5’1″ super cute Asian chick, on yet another night.
All that to say, if you think that works as an honest opinion with the caveat that none of this is the Sky Train’s fault, it’s just an overview of the kind of trip that the Sky Train is NOT designed for.
While I was in Taiwan I visited the Taroko Gorge, which is located in Hualien, Taiwan, and is largely made up of marble. It’s stunning and the water really is the color in the images below.
Taroko Gorge Marble Lake
Taipei 101 is one of the largest office buildings in the world, with the "101" referring to the number of floors above ground. It’s quite a stunning view.
View from Taipei 101
One of my favorite pictures! They have it posted in every stall in the Ladies’ Rooms at Taipei 101. No idea what’s posted in the men’s stalls.
Thanks Sarah for the interesting story and great images. It’s always good to know what kind of luggage is best for a trip. Even better to know what to do with it. Having experienced the daily drudgery of moving from one hostel to the next, we suggest bringing along a Tri-fold Shave Kit to keep all your "face products" in order.
For organizing your electronics and footwear, try a Lil Roy Packing Cube and Nomad Kit Bag. All of these cool travel accessories come with handles so you can hang them up on your doorknob or on your cousin’s bed post. With 12 colors to choose from you can color code your packing cubes, making organizing easy.
If you think you may be coming home with more than you bargained for, pack a couple Aviator Kit Bags. They conveniently fold flat for the trip out and then can be checked for the way home. Some, such as the Extra Small and the Small are carry-on legal.
P.S. Said Sarah,
"I LOVE the advice on luggage that would have made that trip to Taiwan much more organized and easier to handle. The Aviator bag would have been much, much better than the little REI folding duffel I had brought with me."