This bag will help you organize your life, whether you’re traveling for work, for fun, or both.
The Tester: Teddy Minford, Editor, Fodors.com
The Bag: Nomad Lane’s Bento Bag, $198
The Trip: A week in Paris on a working vacation.
Nomad Lane’s Bento Bag is somewhere between a briefcase and a suitcase, with tons of compartments and built-in organization tools.
I’m somebody who usually packs a large tote carry-on with tons of little bags inside—my toiletries pouch, my eye mask and ear plugs, my computer, my electronics and cords, my jewelry, etc. but with this bag, the organization is built into the design with various compartments and built-in pouches.
There are eight separate zippered pockets on this bag, and some have additional pockets within them. The amount of pockets in this bag feels infinite. There’s a front pocket for your small necessities—pens, business cards, cords, makeup, and anything you might need easy access to. Next are two smaller pockets, one of which is made especially for liquids and comes with a clear plastic pouch insert. This is where you’d keep your airplane essentials—toothbrush, toothpaste, medication, moisturizer, chapstick, and more. The bags zips open clamshell-style with two main zippered pockets for bulkier items, including a built-in padded laptop case.
On the back of the bag, there’s a handy sleeve for securing your carryon on to your rolling luggage, and there’s a small zippered back pocket there with things you need to keep close to you: phone, wallet, and passport.
This bag is designed with travelers in mind and it’s built almost perfectly. It feels like every pocket is specially designed for your essentials.
What I Packed
The joy of using this bag comes almost immediately. Although this bag is slightly smaller than the carryon I usually bring on the plane, I was shocked by how much I could fit in there. I was planning on working during my trip, so I had my laptop, charger, and mouse, a notebook and pen, and two Fodor’s guidebooks (including our new Inside Paris guide!). All my clothes and shoes were in my rolling suitcase, but I packed my essentials for the overnight flight: all my toiletries for the plane (Advil, way too many lotions and potions, immune booster, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc.) an extra sweater for the plane, a reusable water bottle and a few snacks, headphones, eye mask, earplugs, an inflatable pillow, compression socks, one of those foot hammock things, and of course, a good book. I also had room for my jewelry and makeup, along with a portable speaker–things that would normally be relegated to my rolling suitcase.
In case the weather was really bad, I also packed an umbrella, gloves, a hat, and a scarf.
I honestly think if I were taking a short trip somewhere warm, this bag would be big enough to fit everything—I wouldn’t need a second roller bag. I’m going to try that on my next tropical weekend away. I was truly amazed at how much I was able to pack in this little bag while still having it fit comfortably under the seat in front of me.
This is a bag for people who love organization (I loved it—I’m a Virgo). But if you’re somebody who’s constantly misplacing your glasses or your passport or your wallet—this might not be the bag for you. There are thousands of pockets on this thing and unless you pack it really thoughtfully and have a mental map of where everything is, you’ll be that person in the airport unpacking their entire bag to look for something.
To be honest, although this is probably one of the most stylish briefcase-style bags on the market, it’s still just a touch too business-y for my taste. That said, I can’t imagine using any other carry on if I’m traveling with my laptop—this bag has changed the way I go on work trips and working vacations. I’m never turning back!