For years I’ve sat in airports and watched, fascinated, to see how people travel.
It seems to come so naturally to some, while others – the ones who clutch onto tablets and books and phones and keys and jumpers and water bottles as they fumble through pockets and too many bags for their boarding pass and passport – are stressed, uncomfortable, hassled. It didn’t take me long to realise: the luggage you carry greatly impacts the ease of your trip.
And so for the longest time I’ve searched for the ultimate travel bag: the one that will magically make travel seem effortless. Specifically, I’ve searched for one that suits my needs: it should (neatly) carry my computer, iPad, camera, lenses, bag of cables and chargers, a book, water bottle, jumper, wallet and travel documents. And of course it should have pockets or compartments for all the important bits, so that there is no fumbling at boarding gates, immigration desks and hotel receptions.
Over time I’ve found bags that suit many of my demands, but there has always been something lacking, something that could be improved. And then someone from Mia Tui dropped me a line: would I be interested in trying out their Amelie travel bag, they asked.
“It’s so… big,” I thought the moment the bag arrived. “And all these inner compartments – are they really necessary? And bright pink inside? Not quite my choice of colour.” I was doing my best to be objective, but to be honest it was immediately obvious that a lot of thought and travel experience had gone into the design.
There are five pockets inside the bag, and one small zipped section outside. The main zip doesn’t extend all the way to each end of the bag, which means you have easy access to the pocket designed to hold your phone, pens and keys, as well as the water-resistant compartment that can hold a water bottle.
All of these pockets, I soon realised, meant that I could be an organised traveller: my phone and pens stay at one end of the bag; my book has its own space (so it doesn’t get dog-eared); one pocket holds a small bag of basic toiletries; another holds my iPad. And because these pockets are neatly packed around the edge of the bag, the main compartment is free to hold the bulky things: my computer, camera and cable and lens bag.
One of the cleverest features is that it comes with three smaller bags. Two are strong clear-plastic zip-up ones that can fit into the side compartments; I’ve yet to use them, but I can see their value to women who carry cosmetics and travel through European airports. The third bag is fantastic: it’s a small faux-leather clutch (with detachable sling strap) that’s the perfect size for travel documents. Using it as a sling means I glide through the admin section of journeys and hotel check-ins: my passport and boarding passes are super easy to access, and once I get onto the plane the sling bag goes into the main bag, so I have only one to worry about.
I have been testing the Amelie for the past nine or 10 months and taken it on around 30 flights. It has always fitted neatly under the seat in front of me and the bright pink fabric inside, I’ve realised, makes it easy to find what I’m looking for –particularly useful when I want to take something out of the bag mid-flight.
What about the size? It’s perfect: big enough to carry everything I need on an international journey, and it works well as an overnight bag too (the zip can be secured with a padlock). It’s too big to use if I’m going to work an afternoon in a café and need to carry only my computer and a few bits and pieces, but I always pack a versatile fabric sling to use when I get to my destination.
Perhaps best of all, the bag is exceptionally well made and strong. My hand luggage invariably weighs eight or nine kilograms, and I have never worried that the bag cannot take that weight. It is yet to show any sign of strain and even though I’ve taken it on so many flights and on thousands of kilometres of bus and car journeys, it’s still in excellent condition.
If you’re interested in the Amelie bag, take a look at Mia Tui’s website: they have an online store, where they sell the bag in a variety of colours, priced from £50.
PLEASE NOTE: This post has not been paid for.
Mia Tui sent me the Amelie bag to test and this review is
based on my experience and use of the bag.