The Best Hanging Toiletry & Cosmetic Bags for Travel 2020


The Best Hanging Travel Toiletry Bags

I love my hanging toiletry bag. It keeps my plethora of toiletries organized when I travel, and is a lifesaver in hotel bathrooms with no counter space. But it was surprisingly difficult to find a great one amidst all the cheap junk on Amazon. There are, however, a handful of well made, well designed hanging toiletry bags out there, so I did some digging to put together this roundup for you.

Victorinox Muse – Overall Best

The Victorinox Muse is the hanging toiletry bag I use (you’ll see it make an appearance in many of my hotel photos!) and there’s a lot to recommend it. I love how the Muse keeps a ton of stuff organized while still folding into a medium sized bag. It’s a little pricey, but I can’t imagine using anything else.

If you’ve tried some of the cheaper bags, you’ll appreciate all of the organization here. Rather than one large main compartment that allows items to tip over and get jumbled up, this bag has four slimmer zipper compartments that hold items in place, but still allow for packing some larger items like a full size sunscreen bottle (or my oversize but essential electric toothbrush!). The thick vinyl lining prevent minor leaks from escaping, and is easy to clean.

I do really love this bag, but I have one complaint: the large pouch second from the top zips around in a U shape that allows for items to tip out if you’re not careful. I’d love to see side flaps incorporated in the pouch to prevent this.

Eagle Creek Pack It Wallaby Toiletry Organizer

Eagle Creek’s Wallaby bag boasts Eagle Creek’s quality at a really reasonable price. There’s good organization in this lightweight bag, and it’s thoughtfully designed. That bag hanging from the bottom is a removable TSA approved quart size bag for liquids, and there’s even a small shatterproof mirror built into the bag!

A couple caveats: much like the Muse, this bag is a little larger than you might think at first glance. Be sure to double check the dimensions, as carry-on only travelers may find it eats up too much luggage space. It’s also worth noting that only the bottom compartment is water resistant, so leak-prone toiletries should be zip-locked if stored in other compartments.

FLIGHT 001 SPACEPAK Hanging Toiletry Bag

Flight001’s Spacepak offers a cheery take on the hanging travel toiletry bag with fun prints and colors. It’s a lightweight bag, but with quality construction, including a solid metal hanging hook and zippered mesh compartments that allow you to easily see what’s in each pouch. There’s an included matching flat zipper pouch that can be packed in the bag or carried separately.

I love the style and design of this bag, and do think it might be one of the best options style-wise. But I wish more attention were paid to leak containment, as those mesh panels won’t be much help. Just be aware that you might want to use baggies to contain any possible leaks (though if you travel with a carry-on, you probably already have a supply of quart size ziploc bags to keep TSA happy).

Travelon Women’s Boho Trifold Toiletry Kit

Travelon’s slim Boho Trifold toiletry bag is a nice choice for lighter packers, and comes in a variety of pretty prints (there’s more options here). The clear plastic compartments make it easy to see what you’ve packed and prevent leaks from escaping, and the kit folds up into a slim, easy to pack shape. The hanging mechanism is actually a loop of fabric that connects to the bag with a plastic hook, so you can hang the bag almost anywhere.

The Boho Trifold is surprisingly wide at 21.5 inches, but the slim profile makes it one of the best choices for lighter packers.

Ropin West Hanging Vanity Case

I love the cool tooled leather and vintage appeal of Ropin West’s hanging toiletry bag! This is a seriously unique bag, and available in a bunch of colors to boot. The solid construction of the bag means that it generally hangs well even though the bottom is wide. The mirror is large enough that it can be used to apply makeup in a pinch, and there are enough small zippered compartments to keep little items like lip balm from getting lost.

However, with this bag you might find you require an additional pouch for organization, as the main compartment is fairly large and open. Consider this one if you’re checking your suitcase, or taking a roadtrip.

Travelon Total Toiletry Kit

A larger size gem from Travelon, their Total Toiletry Kit offers organization galore! This is the hanging kit for you if you have a lot smaller items to organize. It would be fantastic for keeping things like makeup brushes separate and clean.

Packed full, this is a substantial size hanging toiletry bag, one that’s best for those bringing larger checked bags. True to its name, the Total Toiletry kit has pretty much everything; water resistant compartments, removable pouches, space to hold full size bottles and to organize small items. I don’t love that the hanging hook is plastic, but that fact that it swivels is sure to come in handy, a feature that other brands often overlook.

Consider this bag if you’re a heavy packer, or packing for your family.

Best Hanging Travel Toiletry Bags Quick Comparison Chart

Hanging Toiletry KitCapacityPrice Range 

Victorinox Muse Hanging Toiletry Bag

Eagle Creek Pack-it Wallaby Hanging Toiletry Organizer

Flight001 Spacepak

Travelon Trifold Toiletry Kit

Ropin West Hanging Vanity Case

Travelon Total Hanging Toiletry Kit

Away Luggage Alternatives: Bags Like Away Suitcases for Every Budget


Bags Like Away Luggage – Updated for 2020

UPDATE: There’s now even more reason to seek out an alternative to Away. The Verge recently broke the news of Away’s toxic work culture and bullying of employees by co-founder Steph Korey. If you’re one of the many Away devotees returning or cancelling your order, or simply motivated to look elsewhere, you might be wondering what to buy instead of Away. There’s actually a ton of options out there!

Away luggage has developed a cult following thanks to their modern design and wide range of colors. It seems like you can’t open up Instagram nowadays without seeing a travel Instagrammer featuring one of their cases, and they’re all over airports every time we travel. With such high saturation, it’s no surprise people are looking for an alternative to Away. Fortunately, there’s plenty of bags similar to Away out there if you’re looking for something a little different or more budget friendly:

Arlo Skye

Away lookalike Arlo Skye

Arlo Skye is one of the original Away luggage competitors, with very similar cases that include removable batteries. Plus, the brand has an impressive pedigree: it was founded by alums of Tumi and Louis Vuitton, and it shows in the sleek design.

They sell only sell carry-on cases (along with a cute pet carrier that fits neatly on top of your carry-on), and they offer aluminum and polycarbonate versions of their suitcases. The color range is a tad more limited, but the hues are on-trend, and they seem to be embracing a wider color palette as of late. They also offer some colors that Away doesn’t, like the very sexy black aluminum. And honestly, the cases are gorgeous.


Calpak suitcase

Calpak makes a lot of fun, colorful luggage, with some models that feature those familiar horizontal stripes.

The Cyprus model, shown here, is still available at Saks Off Fifth, and we’re loving their metallic cases at Nordstrom that look quite a bit like Away’s aluminum edition (and they make a gorgeous rose gold hue!). 

Nordstrom Rack also frequently offers close-out deals on Calpak luggage, so be sure to give them a look before you buy as well.

Roam Luggage

Customizable Roam Luggage

Newcomer Roam Luggage takes Away’s strong lines, and colorful limited edition concept and runs with it. At Roam, you can completely customize the colors of your suitcase, right down to the hue of the zipper pulls! Whether you’d prefer a rainbow or a monotone, it’s all possible. The option for different colors on the front and back of the shell also reminds me of someone’s limited edition two-tone cases.

Roam cases are super lightweight, coming in slightly under Away’s carry-on weights, and made with the same strong polycarbonate material.

Prices are higher on average, but you’re getting a completely custom suitcase with a lifetime warranty that covers all non-cosmetic damage–even if it’s from careless baggage handlers.

Horizn Luggage

Horizn luggage similar to Away

Horizn luggage, based in the UK (but available through Matches Fashion and Mr Porter), has jumped on the trend Away started. With similar design and features, they’re a great alternative– and we’re inclined to call it an elevated interpretation of the design.

Their cases feature a removable built-in battery, spinner wheels, TSA locks, with luxe leather detailing.

Much like Away luggage, Horizn has an eye for great color palettes combined with sleek modern design. They even offer a case with a zippered exterior laptop access pouch that’s nearly identical to Away’s model.

Horizn bags are priced in the same range as Away, so they’re not necessarily a budget choice. However, they’re still a chic, compelling alternative, and one that won’t blend in with the masses of Away cases rolling through airports nowadays.

Kenneth Cole

kenneth cole luggage

Kenneth Cole’s Sudden Impact cases feature the clean horizontal lines that Away is famous for, and we’re loving the ice blue hue.

The line is available in checked and carry on sizes, and comes in at under $150 for the carry on.

Check out the Kenneth Cole website for additional affordable luggage styles.

Ben Sherman

ben sherman luggage

Ben Sherman’s embossed grid pattern suitcases aren’t an exact Away lookalike, but there’s something about the design vibe that really feels similar to us–while also serving up some classic Brit style.

The cases feature spinner wheels and great interior organization. And at just $65, their carry on bags are a steal!

In addition to DSW linked above, you can purchase the entire 3 piece set for a steal at Macy’s.

Traveler’s Club

traveler's club luggage

A more affordable option that’s similar in design, Traveler’s Club makes cases with similar horizontal lines for less than $50.

The cases features spinner wheels, lightweight construction, and a fold out device that includes USB port that you can use with your own power pack, as well as a cup and phone holder. We love this versatility in a smart suitcase, and you can’t beat the price!

Herschel Supply

herschel supply luggage

Herschel Supply has branched out into luggage, with some pretty cool cases.

They’re not the closest in style, but have a similar vibe with fun colors and modern design, along with some standout prints. You can purchase the Trade line with built-in, removable chargers, or without, so be sure to look for “Trade Power” if you’d like a built-in power bank.

Herschel cases feature the same premium Hinomoto spinner wheels that Away uses, TSA locks, and chic striped lining.

Rockland Melbourne

rockland cheap luggage

If you’re looking for something cheaper, Rockland’s Melbourne cases might be just the thing for you. They are similar in style, and they come in some surprisingly cool color combos for the price point (the case pictured here reminds us of one of Away’s limited editions).

Rockland cases feature spinner wheels, lightweight construction, and tons of color options–but no power bank.


Triforce Away lookalike luggage

At first glance, you could be forgiven for mistaking Triforce’s Milan case for an Away bag. And clocking in at almost $100 under Away’s prices, this case is a fantastic substitute.

The design is incredibly similar, and the features are impressive.

The Milan includes premium Hinamoto spinner wheels, TSA locks, lightweight polycarbonate and leather accents, and nice interior organization.

SwissGear Energie

Swissgear luggage

SwissGear’s cool goldtone Energie case offers a lot of style and features at a nice mid-range price that comes in at about $100 less than Away bags.

The case features TSA locks, spinner wheels, great interior organization, and a USB port that you can use with your own power bank. We love these type of cases that aren’t married to a power bank from a particular manufacturer. You also can’t beat the style and features for the price.

Away Luggage Alternatives Comparison Chart

Away LookalikeHas a Battery? TSA Locks?Price Range
Arlo SkyeYesYes$$


Roam Luggage

Horizn Luggage

Kenneth Cole

Ben Sherman

Traveler's Club
No, but port includedNo$

Herschel Supply



No, but port includedYes$


Is Away luggage worth the hype?

Away luggage is nice enough luggage, and the special edition colors are definitely fun. However, we do feel that Away is a little over-hyped. It’s just a polycarbonite suitcase with a whole lot of branding and advertising (and social media “influencers”!) behind it. There’s so many Away alternatives available now that it pays to take a hard look at the features you really want in a bag.

What makes Away luggage special?

Away luggage has been so aggressive with online and social media advertising that they can certainly feel special, but what sets them apart from other luggage brands? Honestly, not much.

They stood out as one of the first brands to offer built-in batteries, but the usefulness of the batteries is questionable at times, and you do need to be careful not to accidentally check a bag with a battery in it.

Their polycarbonite plastic suitcases are identical to much cheaper cases that have existed for years, just with more distinctive branding.

Additionally, with so many people buying Away luggage nowadays, it hardly feels special to have the same case as everyone else.

The one area where I do think Away distinguishes themselves is their lifetime warranty. If your suitcase is broken, they’ll replace it, something that’s cheap for them to do because that plastic case really doesn’t cost them much. But it’s a policy many other luggage brands would do well to emulate.

Can you take Away luggage on a plane?

Yes, Away luggage can be carried on a plane. The TSA requires that any lithium batteries be carried on with you, rather than checked. In some instances, you may be asked to remove the battery from your Away– or other smart bag– during security, or prior to boarding, but the batteries are allowed on board.

Can Away luggage be checked?

Yes, Away bags, and any other bag with a removable battery can be checked. The TSA requires that you remove the battery before checking the bag, so it’s important to buy a bag with a removable battery.

15 Ridiculously Addictive International Condiments You Can Buy Online


Popular International Condiments

Popular International Condiments: Kewpie Mayo
1. Kewpie Mayo

Japan’s beloved mayonnaise is a cult favorite, and for good reason. Chefs will tell you that Kewpie is closer to homemade mayo, and once you’ve had it, it’s hard to use anything else. And don’t get me started on Japanese potato salad— so good!

Popular International Condiments: Maggi Seasoning
2. Maggi Seasoning

Like soy sauce, but better, with a smoky, meaty flavor. Maggi is incredibly popular in Vietnam, and you might have had it without knowing on Bahn Mi– it’s frequently mixed with mayo and spread on Vietnam’s famous sandwiches. Try the original German version for even more umami punch.

Popular International Condiments: Piri Piri Hot Sauce
3. Piri Piri (or Peri Peri) Sauce

Sriracha has become a huge phenomenon in the United States, but in my mind, it doesn’t hold a candle to Portugal’s Piri Piri hot sauce. Made from the African Bird’s Eye Pepper, this hot sauce has more depth and complexity, and–depending on the formulation– a hint of sweetness. I first encountered the spicy nectar during my Try the World Review, and it’s since caused me to completely neglect my bottle of sriracha.

Popular International Condiments: Bourbon Barrel Maple Syrup
4. Bourbon Maple Syrup

It’s not clear who pioneered the practice of aging maple syrup in bourbon barrels, but it’s pretty brilliant. Whiskey barrels are re-used to give the syrup oakey, spicy, and well, bourbon notes. There’s quite a few producers in the United States and Canada. Excellent on pancakes, and in coffee and cocktails.

Popular International Condiments: Marmite and Vegemite
5. Vegemite and Marmite

Both yeast based spreads, from Australia, and the United Kingdom, respectively, Vegemite and Marmite are controversial to say the least. I’m not a fan– but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it! Those who enjoy the taste describe it as deep and umami, like beef bouillon or concentrated mushrooms.

Popular International Condiments: Banana Sauce
6. Banana Sauce

Banana sauce hails from the Philippines, where was created to stand in for ketchup during a WWII shortage. The concoction stuck around, becoming one of the country’s favorite condiments. Much like ketchup, some people put it on everything, though the banana scent just doesn’t scream “hot dog condiment” to me.

Popular International Condiments: Japanese Wasabi
7. Wasabi

Yeah, you probably know this one. But the Japanese vibrant green Japanese horseradish-like plant is great to have around for more than just doctoring take-out sushi. Mix some wasabi with mayo for your roast beef sandwich, combine it with ketchup for an awesome cocktail sauce, it’ll shine anywhere you’d normally use horseradish.

Popular International Condiments: Lao Gan Ma Chili Oil
8. Lao Gan Ma

Lao Gan Ma chili oil is a Chinese cult favorite. It’s made with fermented black beans for a deep, earthy, umami taste, and packs heat, but not too much. Aficionados put it on everything, from grilled cheese, to soup.

Popular International Condiments: Thai Fish Sauce
9. Fish Sauce

Ever tried to make pad thai at home? It’s never quite the same as at the restaurants, and there’s a good chance that fish sauce (along with tamarind paste), is what you’re missing. Funky and fishy, but you won’t taste that pungency in your dishes, just salty, umami goodness.

Popular International Condiments: Ajvar Pepper Spread
10. Ajvar (or Ajver)

Ajvar is a Serbian red pepper spread that’s available (or you can make it) sweet, or spicy. It’s fantastic on bread, vegetables, meats, or as a dipping sauce, and you’ll see it used at pretty much any meal of the day.

Popular International Condiments: Harissa
11. Harissa

Harissa is a North African chili paste enhanced with spices like coriander, caraway and cumin. Use it in soups, marinades, dips anything that needs a punch of flavor.

Popular International Condiments: Branston Pickle
12. Branston Pickle

Britain’s Branston Pickle is really a pickled vegetable relish, in a sticky brown sauce of dates and tomato. It has a nice sweet and sour taste, is addictive, and fantastic on sandwiches or crackers.

Popular International Condiments: Tkemali Sour Plum Sauce
13. Tekmali

This sour plum sauce is popular in Russia and Georgia. Tkemali is often used in meat, poultry, and potato dishes, but its tart, vinegary, slightly sweet taste lends itself to experimentation.

Popular International Condiments: Boiled Cider Syrup
14. Boiled Cider Syrup

Boiled cider might sound like the newest hipster foodie trend, but Wood’s Cider Mill has been making it in Vermont since 1882. Amazing on pancakes and in cocktails, and many swear in gives that special something to pies and cakes.

Popular International Condiments: Papaya Hot Sauce
15. Papaya Hot Sauce

Aurba’s favorite hot sauce marries papaya with habanero peppers. Papaya hot sauce is sweet and spicy, excellent with seafood, and anywhere you’d use hot sauce.

Try the World Subscription Box Review


Try the World Review

I’d been wanting to subscribe to Try the World for a long time, so when I saw their recent special offering a free Portugal and Brazil box with the purchase of their new Michelin box, I jumped on it! (yes, I spent my own money, this review is NOT sponsored). Read on for my Try the World review…

What’s in the boxes?

Try the World boxes are generally themed around a country, and have a mix of ready to eat snacks and ingredients you can use in your home cooking.

Try the World Review 2017: The Michelin Box

First up, the Michelin box, which is curated by Michelin and Try the World.

It includes Tartufata Truffle Sauce from Italy, Paine d’epices (spiced bread) Baking Mix from France, Mini Pineapple Cakes from Taiwan, Blackberry Jam from England, Darling Sweet Toffee from South Africa, K’ekua Hot Chocolate Tablets from Mexico, Date Spread from Israel, and Gingersnaps from Sweden.

There was also a large insert describing the items and offering recipe suggestions:

Try the World Review 2017: The Michelin Box
Try the World Subscription Box Review 2017: The Michelin Box
Try the World Review 2017: The Portugal Box

The Portugal box includes Apple Cinnamon Black Tea, Olivais du Sol Olive Oil, Codfish Seasoning, Piri Piri Hot Sauce, Rare Jams Rocha Pear and Port Wine Jam (and a tin of jack mackerel that I accidentally knocked off the table and didn’t include in the photo below).

The Portugal Box: Review of Try the World Subscription 2017
Try the World Food Subscription Box Review 2017: The Brazil Box

The Brazil Box includes Churrasco Sauce, Churraasco Spice Mix, Goiabada Guava Paste, Parana Special Origin Ground Coffee, Jaboticaba Jam, and Pacoquita Peanut Candy.

The Brazil Box: Try the World Review 2017

But how do they taste?

I won’t review every single item from the boxes, but here’s my opinion on a bunch of them:

Plate of sweets from Try the World Subscription Box 2017

The first thing I did was grab all the sweets that required no preparation, brew up some of the coffee from the Brazil box, and start sampling!

Jamboticaba Berry Jam

I spread this on rye toast, because it was the only bread I had in the house–and it was good! Smooth and plummy, the jam tastes like fruit, without any distractions. A little like fruit leather, actually.

Gingersnap cookies

Thin, crunchy, buttery, with a nice burst of ginger flavor. These are what I was craving over the holidays!

Pineapple cakes

Just not good. The pineapple filling doesn’t really taste like pineapple, and the “cake” is crumbly and too dry. I like that they’re not over sweetened, but that’s the only nice thing I can say about them. Maybe they’re better fresh?


I don’t know why I’m reviewing this one, because I don’t like toffee. Is toffee always this hard? (the boyfriend says it’s normal to feel like it might break your teeth at first. he also proceeded to eat most of the box).

Pacoquita Peanut candy

I like that’s it’s simply made, with just peanuts, sugar and salt. These were good, if a little too sweet for me– but it is marketed as a candy bar. The boyfriend says it tastes like peanut butter fudge.

Parana Coffee

Nice medium roast coffee, not a revelation, but I think this is what’s missing from the experience.

Try the World Subscription Review 2017: Breakfast with Try the World ingredients
Apple Cinnamon Black Tea

Nothing exotic, but a nice tea. Many fruit flavored teas taste fake to me; this was just yummy and subtle.

Pear & Port Wine Jam

Good, though I don’t taste pear and port so much as honey and black pepper.

Truffle Sauce

They recommended adding it to omelets, but my omelets are always a disaster, so I just spread some on my scrambled eggs. It’s made of mushrooms, olive oil, olives…and 1% truffles.

The flavor is intense and super sharp, and not in a good way. Maybe it’s the olives or bad olive oil? I like olives, but this is terrible. You taste some of the earthiness of the mushrooms after the initial hit of sharpness, but it’s not enough to make the spread palatable.

This went in the trash along with the pineapple cakes; two strikeouts from the Michelin box.

Guava turnovers with guava paste from Try the World 2017
Guava Paste

After googling to see what I could do with the guava paste from the Brazil box, I settled on these easy turnovers.

I’d probably go a little lighter on the cream cheese next time, but they were good! The paste was concentrated, yet not too sweet, and really didn’t even need the cream cheese to be delicious. Guava paste is easy to pick up on Amazon, so I’ll probably buy more to experiment with.

Try the World Review 2017: Hot cocoa and spiced bread

Hot Chocolate Tablets

The “tablets” are big discs of chocolate, sugar and cinnamon; you break off half a disc or so, warm with milk in a saucepan, and voila! It’s similar to my favorite Moonstruck hot chocolate. It might not replace my standby, but I’ll definitely be using these over the winter.

Pain d’epices

The French spiced bread mix was was easy to make, just add warm milk and honey to the mix, then bake. And it’s yummy! Dense and sweet (you really taste the honey), with warm spices and hints of pepper. Well balanced, but even better with some salted butter to offset the sweetness.

Try the World Review 2017: Sauces and Spreads

This round didn’t photograph as yummy as it was–possibly because I was eager to actually eat it, rather than spend time styling! But you get the idea. I tried out the hot sauce on top of my avocado and fried egg toast, and the last two spreads shared space on toast.

Piri Piri Hot Sauce

This might be my new favorite hot sauce. Not too hot, so you can apply liberally, it has an interesting fruity/ citrusy/ vinegary complexity.

Blackberry Jam

I like it! Sweet, but a little bit tart, this is something I’d buy again.

Date Spread

I was concerned that this would be too much concentrated sweetness, and better with a cheese to offset it. Turns out, it’s actually really nice. Similar to the texture and sweetness of apple butter– but clearly made with dates, I still wouldn’t mind some cheese, but it’s just fine on toast. I’ll definitely be experimenting more with this one.

Olivais du Sol Olive Oil

Not pictured, but I’ve been using this for cooking. It’s a decent, mild olive oil, but doesn’t have the fruitiness that I love in my standby olive oil.

Would I buy again?

Overall, Try the World’s selections were more hit than miss. Some items were just what I was hoping for: new, interesting and yummy. Others weren’t to my taste, or were total flops (like the terrible truffle sauce and pineapple cakes from the Michelin box). The buy one box, get two free deal that I snagged made it worthwhile, but I’m not sure if I’d regularly spend $30-$40 on each box.

Try the World also offers customized boxes, smaller boxes, as well as the ability to purchase some individual items that have appeared in past boxes. I’m thinking about giving the customized boxes a try in the future.

If you’re thinking about subscribing, watch out for deals, or you can use this link to get a free box when you subscribe. (make sure to remember to pause or cancel your subscription if, like me, you just want to try a box or two).

Beautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan


I just came across Sasaki-Yohinten on Etsy, and their creative re-working of vintage clothing is cool enough, but they’re also one town over from where I taught in Japan! Strange to see a shop from an obscure Japanese town and say “Hey, I’ve been there.”

Anyways, they make clothing from antique linens, and re-work damaged vintage clothing. I’m digging the carefully considered, but sort of punk rock vibe. How cool would one of those vintage work shirts look paired with jeans this fall? (I’m thinking with these and this tee)

Beautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan | Thought & Sight Beautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan | Thought & Sight Beautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan | Thought & Sight Beautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan | Thought & SightBeautifully Re-worked Vintage Clothing from Japan | Thought & Sight








Lo & Sons Claremont Camera Bag Review


Lo & Sons Camera Bag Review

I recently purchased Lo & Sons’ Claremont crossbody leather camera bag for use with my new Fuji X-T2. Here’s what I thought of it….

Want the short version?

Not enough thoughtful design features to merit the $300 price tag.

The Pros – Claremont Camera Bag Review

I really wanted a bag that didn’t scream “camera bag,” something I could use as a daily bag, so my camera would always be within reach. I chose the Lo & Sons’ Claremont camera bag for its attractive, modern design, and hands-free crossbody strap.

And for most of these criteria, it delivers.

In person, the style doesn’t disappoint. I’d be comfortable carrying it as a daily bag, and even using it for slightly dressier occasions. There’s enough interior padding to protect a camera from bumps and maybe small drops. I also like how the turnlock closure requires just a bit of effort; it won’t accidentally come undone, and makes unnoticed theft that much more difficult.

The Cons – Claremont Camera Bag Review

To be fair, my largest issue with the bag is one I half anticipated when shopping: there’s just not enough storage or organization for this bag to effectively function as a basic purse AND a camera bag. This is an problem if, like me, you don’t want to carry an additional purse.

Compared to my old practical nylon camera bag, the Claremont really has few features designed with a camera in mind, and these shortcomings can’t all be dismissed in the name of the minimalist design.

In addition to the main padded compartment, there are two memory card slots in the front, and a back zippered pouch.

The bag easily fits my small X-T2 and an extra lens, but it becomes a challenge to pack in a small wallet, keys, cell phone and lip balm. With a larger DSLR, those extra items would be even more tightly crammed.

There’s a bit of extra room at the top of the bag, but it’s not really usable unless you want to “unpack” before taking your camera out–and then again to fit it back in.

The removable divider is a good idea for flexibility, but has difficulty staying in place, and the slightly rounded shape of the bag’s base means that my extra lens will always try to topple over once I remove my camera.

If I want to pack other accessories like filters or extra batteries, they’ll be floating around in the bottom of the bag, or crammed into the back pouch (leaving me to wonder where to put my keys).

Above, I have a tissue pack, lip balm, my keys and iPhone 5s (awesome pizza case from Etsy) in the back pouch, and though you can’t tell from the photo, it’s pretty crammed. The tightness of the pocket also makes it difficult to dig out items that slip to the bottom.

A small front pouch in the place of the memory card slots, and expandable accordion edges at the top of the back pouch would go a long way to making this bag more functional.

The Verdict – Lo & Sons Claremont Camera Bag Review

Overall, I just don’t feel that Lo & Sons Claremont camera bag has enough thoughtful design features to merit the $300 price tag. If you’re absolutely in love with the style, and don’t need to carry much with you, go for it. But I hesitate to recommend a bag at such a high price point when it seems more like a purse with a couple token camera bag features added.

This bag really only works for me when I don’t want to bring along an extra lens, so there’s free space for a couple personal items. Not ideal, so I’m still hunting for something that will better fit my needs.

Two Options I’m Looking At:

Ona’s Chelsea camera bag. It’s larger, and appears to have more in the way of storage and dividers.

This vintage courier bag, which also has better storage, and is gorgeous. However, I would need a padded insert to protect my camera. (I’m half hoping someone buys this before I give in to temptation, and half reluctant to tell anyone about it!)

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color


I’ve been making use of lazy summer days to catch up on the stacks of travel magazines that have been piling up in our little apartment. Among all the new wanderlust and inspiration happily swimming in my head, I was smitten with the photography in a feature on Lartigue: Life in Color.

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color | Thought & SightJacques Henri Lartigue is best known for his early black and white work, and the book delves into why that is. It’s both mind-boggling and fascinating, but when color photography was first developed, it was viewed as a crass commercial tool, vastly inferior to the purely artistic black and white medium. Martin Ravache describes the “astonishingly moral vocabulary” applied to color photography, with detractors throwing around words like “corrupted!”

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color | Thought & Sight

However, because Lartigue considered himself first and foremost a painter– but only an amateur photographer– he had little investment (or interest) in the purist attitudes of his contemporaries. No doubt his proto-hippie attitude toward life: living frugally, surrounded by nature, and focusing on seeking out joy, helped as well.

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color | Thought & Sight

Lartigue’s color photographs from the 50s through the 70s showcase country life in France and Italy, with a dose of jetset, and frequently feature his wife and muse, Florette. I love this one, below:

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color | Thought & SightThe book has a nice selection of Lartigue’s color photos, and just enough commentary to provide a context to understand the photographs. I’m dying to know more, and have my eye on this fascinating profile of Lartigue, as well as this gem devoted to the Riviera.

Recommended Read | Lartigue: Life in Color | Thought & Sight

Recommended Read: Rice Noodle Fish

Rice, Noodle, Fish is part travelogue, part food guide, and one of the best I’ve read from either category in quite some time. Stunning landscapes might stir my wanderlust, but what I ultimately want to know is “What do they have to eat?”

Matt Goulding ably answers that question, traveling Japan to highlight the wide range of shokunin (artisans who are obsessively devoted to their craft– think Jiro from Jiro Dreams of Sushi). From high end yakitori in Tokyo, to cocktails with unexpected seasonal ingredients sourced entirely from Japan (carrots from Kanagawa, anyone?), to a small town couple preserving long-held traditions of fermentation, to an incongruous but excellent French bakery in Hokkaido, I found myself alternately delighting and despairing in Goulding’s descriptions. Why am I not there, eating that, right now??

Recommended Read: Rice Noodle Fish Book Review | Thought & Sight

Goulding intersperses his profiles of shokunin with short cultural tips, food photos with accompanying names and kanji, and even recommendations on what to order from vending machines or buy from conveniences stores (which I’m already smitten with). Even if you’re not a big foodie, the writing is engaging; covering history, culture, stories of the shokunin– and yes, while it’s not the major focus– Goulding will have you yearning for the streets of Kyoto or the mountain landscapes of Hokkaido.

Recommended Read: Rice Noodle Fish Book Review | Thought & Sight

Recommended Read: Rice Noodle Fish Book Review | Thought & SightRice, Noodle, Fish is not exactly meant as the kind of travel guide you carry in your backpack, but there’s so much great info, and so many must-try restaurants, that I’m either taking copious notes or making room in my suitcase for this book next time we visit Japan.

Travel Movie Halloween Costumes: Out of Africa


Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: Out of Africa

I have to admit that I chose Out of Africa for this costume series as much for the inspirational quality of Meryl Streep’s wardrobe as anything else. It is however, a legitimately great movie– one that will have you sniffling at the end, and dreaming of Africa afterwards.

Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: Out of Africa(For a less buttoned up look, ditch the jacket and go a with a slightly oversize khaki shirt)

Also, I know the hat isn’t an exact match, but it was too fantastic not to include. Between the hat and boots, I’ve daydreamed away my grocery budget for the next couple months. I’ve picked the pieces I think are amazing, but this costume doesn’t have to be expensive, and you can easily find at least the shirt and blazer at a thrift store, as well as some cheaper options on Etsy.

Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: Out of Africa

(roughly) clockwise from top right:

Vintage Equestrian Blazer (not your size? see more here)

Vintage French Binocular Case

Vintage 1950s Jodphurs (not your size? see more here)

Vintage Khaki Blouse (not your size? see more here)

Vintage Riding Boots (not your size? see more here)

Wide Brim Felt Hat

Travel Movie Halloween Costumes: A Trip to the Moon


Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: A Trip to the Moon | Thought & Sight

Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: A Trip to the Moon | Thought & Sight

The 1902 French short film A Trip to the Moon might not be your typical travel movie, but it is a very trippy, imaginative gem. Thanks to its highly stylized sets, the movie has stood up surprisingly well, and is worth a viewing if you haven’t seen it (free for streaming on Amazon Prime)

Even though the women in the movie are basically moon cheerleaders (what, you couldn’t send a woman to the moon??), their costumes are pretty fun. I went with some pretty vintage picks, but it could be fun to play off of the colorized version and give the costume a bit of punk rock edge as well.

Travel Movie Halloween Costume Ideas: A Trip to the Moon | Thought & SightClockwise from top right:

Vintage Panama Hat

Vintage Tap Shorts (not your size? see more here)

Vintage Oxfords (not your size? see more here)

Brass Field Trumpet

Vintage Sailor Blouse (not your size? see more here)