Remember the Russian nesting dolls, where a set of dolls of decreasing sizes were placed one inside the other? These days, thanks to rising airline baggage fees, the nesting doll model forms the essence of my packing strategy:

In the pocket of my travel vest, I carry reusable shopping bags

In my camera backpack, is a laptop sleeve

In my carryon, travels an Eddie Bauer small duffel

Lightweight and durable, I find the multi-purpose duffle to be the perfect stowaway. 

Favorite feature: The water-repellent duffel stuff sack works great as an extra interior section for wet towels or dirty hiking shoes.

Not-so-favorite feature: I’m stumped. Short of solar powered iPod ports, Eddie Bauer seems to have thought of everything from the perfectly positioned grab-and-go side handles, to the side pocket deep enough for gym shoes, and interior mesh top, great for see-thru access to toiletries. 

Bottom line: Whether I’m returning home with a few too many souvenirs, hitting the gym, or needing to slim-down my carryon weight for small plane island hopping, the small duffel saves the day. 

Available at as well as the Travel Essentials section of the Travel Store at powered by Amazon. Suggested retail price: $49.50



Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".