March has been a doozy for me. There have been multiple illnesses in our home (and we’re finishing Spring Break with another round of the crud) and I spent much of the month traveling which is super fun but also makes life a bit chaotic.
Speaking of traveling, I went on two giant, trip-of-a-lifetime types of trips this month.
First, our family went to Disneyland for our big “every five year” trip. We did Disneyland for four days straight. And then the day after we returned, my thirteen-year-old daughter and I headed to Israel and Jordan for a part sightseeing and part service trip with our church.
Needless to say, we laid down a LOT of cash this month (and the months leading up to March) to pay for these trips. One thing I do to keep our travel budget in check is to do as little “prep shopping” as possible before we leave.
“Prep shopping” is the excuse we use to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff before a big (or small) trip. You know, you’re going to Hawaii which means everyone “needs” a new pair of sandals and new swimsuits. Or you’re going on a cruise so you “need” new outfits for the fancy dinners. Or you’re traveling overseas so you need a new wardrobe that consists only of non-wrinkle dresses and zip-off, quick-dry pants.
I try to remember that people who live in the places I’m visiting live a normal life and don’t need special gear to survive the climate, so neither do I. As much as we can, we wear the clothes and shoes already in our wardrobe and the kids use their school backpacks for the plane ride. This saves us so much money — money that we can devote to the actual travel experience.
So, before going to Disneyland (again, our family’s giant splurge vacation) I only purchased two things:
Yes, I got a new backpack. I’m such a little hypocrite. But, in my defense, I only had an oversized travel backpack that was simply too big for me to use as a daypack in Disneyland and touring around the Middle East.
My friend, Kate, recently splurged on a Cath Kidston pack. They are beautiful and oilcloth, so you can wipe up any spills or smudges. I was willing to throw down and get one myself but I waited until the last minute (as usual) and the things ship from England.
So I had to search Amazon (Prime 2-day shipping is every procrastinator’s friend) to find something similar. I was specifically looking for:
- A cute floral design — I wanted something I could use when I got home as well.
- Medium-sized — Big enough to be my carry-on for the plane and to carry the kids’ random stuff around Disney, but small enough that I could comfortably, and fashionably use it while sightseeing. Bonus if it would fit my 15-inch laptop.
- Reasonably practical — At least one pocket to hold my small stuff, but not so many pockets that stuff gets lost.
I landed on the Leaper Canvas Casual Daypack on Amazon. It was one of those “suggested products” when I searched for the expensive style. Clearly it’s a knock-off (my favorite) and at under $30 I was willing to take the gamble that perhaps the quality wouldn’t last for years to come.
The verdict? After hitting Disneyland and California Adventure for four solid days and traveling through Israel and Jordan for almost two weeks, I absolutely picked a winner.
I love, love, love this backpack. It fit all of my criteria listed above and is very comfortable to carry around. There are two side pockets that are big enough to hold a 16.9 ounce plastic water bottle. The straps are wide enough to distribute the weight of the backpack well. And the bottom of mine is leather (okay, fake leather) and didn’t show the dirt that it collected as we traveled through Petra and other dusty parts of the Middle East.
This pack does hold my 15-inch laptop, but it’s a squeeze. It wouldn’t fit anything larger.
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