Mert Bulan

One Bag Traveling with Aer Travel Pack 2 Small

| reading time: 6 mins

The items in my backpack

A few weeks ago, I traveled from Hamburg to Barcelona, and during my trip, I used only one bag. I’d like to share the details of my experience in this blog post.

The Problem

I will be honest with you. I don’t like traveling a lot. The reason is that most of the time, traveling wastes too much time and energy. Let me tell you how a simple traveling experience looks from my side.

First, I need to know how many nights I will stay. Based on that, I can predict (with high confidence) which items I should choose for my trip. Based on that, I can also pick the bag that I want to carry with me. (Some people take the bag and try to fill that bag.) Afterward, I prepare my bag based on the weather of the city that I live in and also the city that I am going to visit.

You can see that I already spent so much time and energy before my trip. Then, the part that I don’t like begins. I leave home 1-2 hours before my flight. I arrive at the airport and go to the check-in desk, wait in the queue and leave my baggage. Then, I go to the security check, wait in the queue, take out my computer from my backpack. Then, I wait for the onboarding time. After that, I wait in the queue for the onboarding. When I enter the plane, I wait for people to put their backpacks in the luggage place. I put on my backpack when I reach my seat and wait for the takeoff.

After the plane is landed, I wait for people to take their backpacks from the luggage part. Then, I get my backpack and leave the plane. After that, I wait for my baggage from the moving band. When I get my baggage, I leave the airport.

As you can see, it is a horrible experience and nobody is trying to fix it. You can spend 5-6 hours for just 2 hours trip. Because of that, people are trying to find a solution to make this experience more enjoyable and efficient. One Bag Traveling is the result of that exploration.

The Solution

When I decided to travel to Barcelone for work-related reasons, I wanted to try the One Bag Traveling experience. With that, I had put the first constraint: there was going to be only one bag for everything that I need. That helped me to spend less time deciding what I should take with me because the answer to that question was obvious.

Since I was going to stay for 4 nights, I was going to need 4 underwear, 4 socks, 4 sweatshirts. Since the purpose of the trip was work-related, I was going to need to carry my MacBook Pro as well. Then, I was going to need a set of pajamas and extra socks for my sleep. Besides the things that I wear, I will need my toothbrush, toothpaste, and roll-on. All of these things were a must-have.

Then, some things were not must-haves but I was going to need them. The first thing was an extra pair of pants because something might go wrong with the pants that I wear during the trip. The second thing was that I always wear a sweatshirt with a t-shirt under it. (With this way, if I sweat, the t-shirt absorbs the sweat and the sweatshirt stays clean so I wouldn’t need to wash the sweatshirt multiple times and I can increase the lifetime of the sweatshirt) Then, since I am going to carry my MacBook Pro and my iPhone, I will need a charger. Since Apple switched to USB-C, I wouldn’t need to carry two chargers.

Besides the other necessary things, just for this trip, I bought a few extra items. The first thing was Apple Magsafe Battery Pack. I have an iPhone 13 mini and I thought that the battery might be a problem. Since I didn’t want to have a phone with no battery while traveling in a country I don’t know, I didn’t want to take a risk. The second thing was an AirTag. Since I was going to put everything into one bag, I wanted to make sure that if that bag gets lost, I want to find it as soon as possible. Besides those items, I needed to carry a few COVID Antigen tests (and FFP2 masks) if I feel any symptoms. Also, I heard that pickpocketing is very common in Barcelona, so I bought two small locks to lock the two sections of my bag.

After deciding the things that I wanted to carry, it was time to find the right backpack for this trip. One of my friends suggested me Pack Hacker website. On the website, I could check the backpack reviews and compare them. After spending hours of reading articles and watching review videos, I decided to buy Aer’s Travel Pack 2 Small.

Aer Travel Pack 2 Small

There were a lot of reasons why I wanted to buy Aer’s Travel Pack 2 Small:

  • The size of the backpack is perfect for the carry-on limits of the airlines (This is probably the most important thing that you should check!)
  • There is a separate section for a notebook
  • The notebook section has a false bottom (if I drop the bag, nothing will happen to my MacBook Pro)
  • You can open the biggest section completely (makes it very easy to put your items)
  • There is a separate section for your passport on the top
  • You can lock the zippers easily
  • There is a place to hold a bottle on the side

These reasons help me to decide to buy the backpack but there was one problem. Aer ships the backpack from the US. So, that means I was going to pay customs fees and value-added tax besides the backpack’s price. In the beginning, I was okay with spending 200€ for a high-quality backpack because probably I am going to use that backpack for years. Now, I was going to spend more than that and I didn’t know how much exactly. I sent an email to Aer and they told me that they also don’t know the exact custom fees but they were super kind to tell me that I should wait for Black Friday because they were going to make a 20% discount on the price so I could save money from there to pay the customs fee. After receiving that email, I was sure that I made the right choice.

I waited for Black Friday and ordered the backpack. In total paid 185$ (165€) for the backpack including 25$ shipping cost. When the backpack arrived in Germany, I paid 63€ for custom fees including UPS’s 12€ brokerage charge. So in total, the backpack cost me 228€. Not bad.

When I received my backpack, I had two initial reactions: the quality of the backpack was super good, the backpack was smaller than I expected. In the beginning, I was scared a little bit that I was not going to be able to fit all the items that I wanted to carry into the backpack. Then, I thought that with the help of packing cubes, I can fit them easily.

After ordering the backpack, I also ordered a few packing cubes: Peak Design’s Medium and Small Packing Cube and Osprey’s Ultralight Packing Cube Set. I also ordered Mammut’s Travel Washbag to put my toiletry items.

The items in my backpack

In the end, the items that I wanted to carry with me looked like this:

  • Peak Design’s Medium Packing Cube: 4 Sweatshirts
  • Peak Design’s Small Packing Cube: 5 socks, 4 underwear, 1 set of pajama
  • Osprey’s Big Packing Cube: 4 T-shirts
  • Mammut’s Washbag: 1 toothbrush, 1 toothpaste, 1 roll-on, a bunch of cotton swabs
  • MacBook Pro 16” with its charger
  • AirTag
  • Apple MagSafe Batterpack
  • iPhone Charging Cable
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • Passport
  • Two packs of COVID Test Kit
  • AirPods Pro (not on the picture)
  • 5 FFP2 Masks (not on the picture)

When I put everything into the backpack, it is weighted 9.4kg which is below the carry-on limit of 10kg. (2kg of the weight comes from the MacBook Pro. I guess I will never buy a MacBook Pro that is bigger than 14” in the future.)

I put the packing cubes and the washbag into the biggest section of the backpack, the MacBook Pro into the seperate section for notebooks, the passport into the small poket on the top, FFP2 Masks into the front pocket to access them easily and the rest of the things into the front section of the backpack. I locked the notebook and the front section since they contain the valuable items.

I would like to mention that Peak Design’s packing cube has exceeded my expectations. The quality of the fabric they used and the functionality of the cube (you can increase the height of the cube with a zipper, there is another section for dirty clothes) was good. While buying it, I had some questions because it was really expensive compared to Osprey’s packing cube set but after using it, I can easily say that the price is worth it. On the other hand, Osprey’s cube was also good but the fabric wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t able to open the cube completely as I can do it with the Peak Design’s cube.

When it comes to the backpack, I loved it! You can see that the designers of the backpack thought about almost every detail. For example, after you adjust the cords of the backpack to feel comfortable while carrying it, normally you see the cords hanging there but Aer’s designers put a small thing that keeps those stripes close to the shoulder strap so no cords hanging around the backpack while you are carrying it.

Final Thoughts

In the beginning, the backpack was really heavy but after a few minutes of walking, I get used to it. The backpack didn’t just improve my packing experience but also reduced the time that I would normally spend at the airport: I checked in on my phone. When I arrived at the airport, I went to the security check directly. After landing, I exited the airport directly. Especially, if you think about the COVID situation, spending less time in indoor places is important.

I believe that the backpack is ideal for one-week trips in winter. I believe that I can use the backpack for 2 weeks trips in summer since the summer clothes are not taking too much space as the winter clothes. After my experience, I can recommend both Aer Travel Pack 2 Small and Peak Design’s packing cubes. I already started to think about buying Aer’s City Pack to carry my MacBook Pro around the city because I am thinking about working from one of the co-working spaces in Hamburg in the coming months.

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