April 28, 2019

Hello, my name is Stephanie… and I am an over-packer.

Since I decided to leave Los Angeles two years ago, I have been working hard on Marie Kondo-ing my life. I said thank you, next to my things in a few stages. The first give gratitude and say farewell wave was when I subleased my Venice Beach apartment and put all my things in storage in September of 2017. I was ruthless, or so I thought. I packed up a shocking amount (an entire carload) of the clothes and shoes and random shit that I hadn’t touched in a lifetime and dropped it all at Goodwill. I was pretty damn pleased with myself. The second cull came when I met the love of my life, Dave, and decided to move to Denver in September of 2018. In honor of us planning on co-creating a fresh new merged home and life together, I sold or donated a truckload of my furniture and decor that I had curated over 10 years of solo living. I got rid of yet another carload of clothes and crap and condensed everything I owned into a single SUV destined for the mountains. I was feeling quite good about my minimalism.

The third wave came in the past couple weeks, when Dave and I ended our relationship (a story for another time) and dismantled the home we built together. This time I realized that I had truly gotten rid of nearly all the clutter in my world, and rid myself of just one extraneous box of things that no longer brought me joy. Amidst the overwhelming heartbreak and tears over the loss of the person who I thought was my forever person, I taped up everything I had reduced my belongings to in bubble wrap and boxes, and walked out the door, Bali bound, with just two things: my Herschel backpack and roller.

My love affair with Herschel began on my tumultuous return from my first trip to Bali in April of 2017, when my father had just died and I was struggling to find my way home back to my family. This was my first long-haul overseas trip, and I made laughable choices in my luggage and the amount of crap I brought along. I had both a roller carry on, a single-strap wildly impractical carry-on computer bag, AND a giant (and I mean GIANT) checked roller suitcase packed to the brim – and I barely touched 1/4 of the things I brought over the course of my stay. So there I was bleary-eyed, grieving, and in worlds of pain on the inside, and to top that the physical pain from carrying around this shoulder bag was too much to handle. So I walked into an airport shop, spotted this tropical print navy Hershel backpack and gave so little f-cks I didn’t even look at the price, transferred all my things on from my bag to backpack right in the middle of the store floor, and proceeded to make the 48 hour miserable journey a little less painful.

When I decided to go Back to Bali in September of 2018, I knew I had to make smarter choices with my baggage. Ever struggling with money, I ran over to TJ Maxx and found a cheap cute hard-side roller set, and proceeded to stuff the large one (mind you, even this large one was 2/3 the size of my previous giant bag) with what I thought was a restrained amount of things. Thinking I had conquered my over-packing and had reached a level of minimalist enlightenment, I walked right up to the check in desk only to find I had somehow managed to go 10 pounds over my limit. I forgot to consider that the actual suitcase, that budget choice and hard-sided option, weighed 12 pounds on its own. I transferred things into my Hershel backpack, tossed some others, and somehow made weight and walked to my gate, head hung low in Over-packers Anonymous shame.

When I brought that bag, along with the matching carry-on roller, to Mexico, to add insult to injury during my final INSANE weeks, the wheel snapped right off the bag. I took my broken luggage and broken plans right to North Carolina, tail between my legs.

While I was there, I participated in a focus group that gave out Amazon gift cards as payment. I knew exactly what needed to be in my cart, a really good piece of luggage. I struggled and searched and researched for weeks, going back and forth between a rolling backpack (great for international destinations and smarter packing), those sexy minimalist hard-side Away cases (included power bank, beautiful, 360 degree wheeling), and the Herschel soft-sided Parcel Large roller in Brindle Parlour (tan tropical bird print). And while everything I knew about travel and all the reviews led me to the Osprey rolling backpack, I just couldn’t do it. It just was so…aesthetically basic. I know, practical is super smart. I know, looks don’t matter it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But hell, I couldn’t get past spending so much money on something that didn’t spark joy (only later on would Kondo make me feel this was alright). So I chose fashion over comfort. I chose my favorite tropical motif, and it sparked so much damn joy I was willing to overlook the shortcomings (which ended up being pretty minimal). And while I sit here in the airport writing this post (next to my OG Bali-bought backpack that has seen many miles of travel and is still ticking) I’m happy to say I packed everything I need for 5 weeks away, and nothing I don’t, perfectly organized and packed to the brim in that Herschel suitcase, weighing in just under at 49.8 pounds.

Why I love it:

Flexible Organization:

Coming from someone for whom organization does not come naturally and who needs to fight the overpacking demons, the design of this luggage truly helps a sister out:

Two large mesh-lined interior compartments with this cool stretchy material around the edges that keep the zippers and mesh from breaking when you’re an over-packer like me. It even fits my huge tripod.

Hidden zippered compartment at the top, outside, for easy access to passport, keys, documents, etc.

Interior zippered pocket in one compartment, and a zippered pocket on the outside of one of the mesh sides.

Large exterior (pleated for extra expansion) pocket running nearly the whole front.

Aesthetics, aesthetics, aesthetics!

Herschel designers really speak to my artist’s soul with their serious attention to design detail:

Telescoping handle with a cute little script font message

Brown leather zipper pulls and ID holder

Gorgeous color scheme and tropical bird print that I can spot on a carousel from a mile away (and have never seen a duplicate!)

Pinstriped interior lining.

Lightweight, so there’s more weight allowance for all my things!

What could be better:

The wheels. They’re super tiny and there are only two, so there’s no upright rolling or easy turning. If they would have gone the 4-wheel route, this would be the ultimate dream bag for me. That said knew what I was getting into with this one and made the choice to buy over with full knowledge of this shortcoming. And I still believe it was the right choice- the good definitely outweighs the “meh” wheel design, and I’d rather take this shortcoming over those of the other options so I’m still happy with my choice.

Want to buy it?

Looks like they’re out of my print on Amazon, but they have some other options and you can use my links here. The first two are the ones I have, the second two are other sizes:

Herschel Backpack

Herschel Parcel Luggage Large

Herschel Parcel Luggage XL

Herschel Highland Luggage Carry-On (in my print!)

note: I am compensated by Amazon Affiliates if you use the above links, but this is not a sponsored post in any way- I just really love Herschel and want to share the love!

Or you can buy directly on Herschel’s website!

Happy traveling y’all, and may you find your packing sweet spot between the minimalism of Kondo and the slight impracticality of Goldfinger to keep you balanced πŸ˜‰

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