It's more than possible to travel around the world with only one bag. (Heck, it's possible to do it with nothing more than a good pair of pants, if you're so inclined). For me, I know that I'll fill up whatever space is available to me, and that's why I'm starting off with a review of the best carry-on backpack available yesterday, today, and hopefully tomorrow: the MEI Voyageur.
I'll also review my trusty Manhattan Portage DJ messenger bag.
Home Base: The MEI Voyageur Backpack
If you're asking yourself why this picture looks like it was taken in the 1970s, that's because MEI has been making this bag for decades. The design is about as simple as it gets. There's a lightweight internal frame, padded shoulder straps, waist belt, and a huge single internal compartment protected by the strongest Cordura fabric and zippers I've ever seen. The idea is to maximize the amount of space that you have for packing, while not going over the limit for an airline carry-on.
I've never seen the Voyageur for sale at any store, and in fact I've only spotted an MEI product at retail once, in Tokyo, Japan. These are made by hand in America, and there's often an order backlog of several months. Mine was well worth the wait.
MEI has an appropriately vintage website, but if you want to order one, you're best off doing what I did, and going through this online store-cum-fansite, which will put you in touch with MEI and deal with the money. Just be patient -- you won't regret it.
A Day Pack for All Occasions: The Manhattan Portage DJ Bag
Again, simplicity is king. The Manhattan Portage DJ Bag has a couple of sleeves to help you organize your stuff, but mostly it's just a big, unobtrusive Cordura bag. You can run it through the washing machine when it gets dirty, and it'll come out looking like new. When not in use, it'll take up virtually no space or weight inside your MEI Voyageur bag.
I've used mine everywhere from the streets of Tokyo (the Japanese love Manhattan Portage for some reason) to the remote hills of northern New Zealand. Below, mine, hanging off the side of a camel in the Sahara Desert.
In part two, I'll cover a few aspects of keeping in touch while abroad.