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Stackable Trolley Bags and How We Gave “Loot Bag” a New Meaning in Saigon

I don’t remember traveling with more than one piece of luggage for myself. Ever. I always packed light because too much luggage was a burden. I like to keep my hands free. When they were younger, to grab my children when they strayed too far. When they were older, so I could take lots of photos.

It was a different story, of course, packing for my daughters when they were little girls. Up until they learned to pack for themselves, I did the packing for them and it was short of bringing the entire house with us. To make sure they were comfortable, I’d put their favorite pillows and blankets, and even stuffed toys, in the bags.

“Travel light” has always been my motto

But how I pack for myself has not changed over the decades. So, just one bag for my clothes and toiletries, one bag for my photo gear and one bag for my wallet, passport and stuff like that.

When I gave up bringing a dSLR on trips, my baggage became even lighter. When I went to Hong Kong with girl friends, they couldn’t believe how light my luggage weighed when we checked in at the airport. My trolley bag was only half full. Spring in Hong Kong requires light clothing. Sweaters and overcoats were not necessary and I had no intention of packing a morning outfit, afternoon outfit and evening outfit for every day that we were there. The remaining space in the bag was for shopping loot.

One extra empty bag

Traveling to Japan at the start of winter required a different strategy. Thick clothing was a must and I filled my medium-sized trolley bag with sweaters, cardigans, one ultra thick outer sweater, plus thick socks. To make space for the shopping loot, I brought an empty backpack.

That was when I learned about stackable trolley bags from my friend, Kat. She said that, instead of a backpack, I could bring two pieces of trolley bags (small and medium or medium and large), pack my clothes in the smaller piece then put the bag inside the larger bag. That way, after filling the empty bag with shopping loot, I’d have two bags with wheels and nothing to carry on my back or shoulders. In other words, leave with one piece of luggage to push and pull, then come home with two.

Bringing stackable trolley bags to Saigon for the food shopping

Alex and I left the house with three trolley bags, one of them empty. I half-filled one medium-sized bag with my clothes, Alex packed her things in a small bag then locked the small bag in the remaining medium-sized one. She had a small backpack for her personal items. I had a handbag that was just large and sturdy enough to hold my passport, wallet, MacPro and Canon EOS M100. Right, no more separate camera bag.

Packing our loot from food shopping in Saigon

We came home from Saigon with the empty bag filled with loot from our food shopping. All our unwashed clothes went into my medium-sized bag. The few remaining clean clothes and the shopping loot that couldn’t fit into the extra bag went into the small bag. Very convenient.

So what did we buy? Coffee (of course!), chocolates (of course too!), cooking ingredients and a whole lot more. Things we don’t normally find back home.

I am in Hanoi with my older daughter, Sam, as I write this. We still haven’t consumed all the stuff that Alex and I brought home from Saigon so we’re not planning on more heavy food shopping here. Just coffee and tea which we already bought on our first afternoon here.

We left the house with two lightly-packed trolley bags and we’re going home with the same two bags. Not as lightly packed though, for sure, because we’ve been doing quite a bit of non-food shopping. Beautiful artisan products, mostly, which I will write about soon.

Written By

I travel to eat, drink and learn new cuisines. Between trips, I write travel stories and share travel-inspired recipes. That is my idea of retirement with purpose.

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