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The correct selection of suitcases won't make your luggage any lighter, but might make it easier to manage.

Here are two solutions to common needs while we're traveling.

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Expandable and Collapsible Bags for Traveling Convenience

Two different options for you to consider



Many of us suffer from a luggage imbalance. We either start our journey with much more in our bags than when we return, or (more commonly!) we bring back many more things than we started off with.

And while we're on our journey, we might find ourselves needing a 'day bag' - something lightweight and convenient to carry the day's souvenir shopping in.

Here are interesting solutions to both these needs.


Kiva Fold'n Go Convertible Luggage

Folds down to carry empty, opens up for use

This can be carried, empty, as a lie flat package.

Unfold and open it, and it changes into a semi-rigid sided suitcase, a bit smaller than a pilot's bag.


Sometimes I like to travel light when setting out on a journey, but I know I'll be returning home with considerably more things.  Perhaps brochures from a trade show, or maybe gifts and goods from wherever I'm visiting.

In such cases I take an expandable (or should I say, collapsible?) bag with me.  When traveling empty, it simply squashes into the other bag, taking up little space; and when traveling full, it carries a full load inside it.

Typically such bags are just soft nylon bags with no internal shape of their own.  This is not a problem if you're filling the bag with clothes, but if you're wanting to protect a pile of brochures, perhaps, you need something with some more rigid framework to it.

Here now is a great product that does exactly that.  When collapsed, it is a compact lie-flat piece measuring about 17" x 6" x 1".  When opened up, it forms a semi-rigid sided small suitcase measuring 17" x 13" x 6".  You can see both opened and collapsed forms in the picture, above.

The suitcase has semi-rigid panels that fit around the four narrow sides of the case.  The two big sides have no protection, other than the fabric itself.

There is a main compartment inside the suitcase and two mesh external pockets (perhaps one for the ubiquitous water bottle and the other for whatever you wish).

It is easy to open into its suitcase form and easy to collapse into its carrying sheet-like form.

It felt flimsy when first unfolded and set in its suitcase shape.  So, to test, I put 20lbs of wine bottles and other objects in it, and carried it around for a while.  It held its shape perfectly, and so perhaps it should be better described as 'lightweight' rather than 'flimsy'.  Truly, suitcases are things where lighter is almost always better!

It is described as being made from 420D nylon fabric and is available in black and red.

The suitcase weighs 1 lbs.  A nylon only bag, without the side panel reinforcing, would typically weigh about half this.  If weight is your most important consideration, you'll probably prefer a plain simple nylon expandable bag, such as an Eagle Creek Packable Tote for $29.85 from Magellan's.

But if you like the idea of a collapsible suitcase that gives extra protection to its contents, this Fold N' Go Suitcase would be your better choice.  It is sold through Magellan's for $19.85.

Kiva Pico Pico Key Chain Tote Bag

A key ring accessory for us all

A full size shopping bag that fits on your key ring.

This accessory is ideal for your days out while on vacation.  Invariably you'll end up buying something and have no convenient way of carrying it.

Here's the simple lightweight solution.


One of the things I have learned, in foreign countries, is to always keep a carry bag with me.  Many times when buying something from a street stall, or even from a regular shop, it will be handed over unwrapped, or in a box rather than a bag.  This can be very inconvenient if you need to carry it with you for the rest of the day before returning to your hotel.

Here is an excellent solution - Kiva's Pico Pico Key Chain Tote Bag.  When not in use, it is a small pouch, measuring about 4" x 2" x ", and weighing a mere 2 ounces.  There is even a lanyard on it if you want to fasten it to your keyring or waist pack, and is small enough to fit in any purse or pocket.

When the urge to splurge hits you, and you end up buying a souvenir or anything else, you simply unzip the pouch and open it up into a full size carry bag measuring 16" x 14" x 4".  The picture above gives you a feeling for how big it becomes and how much you could put in it.

Indeed, the bag can be useful at home, too, for those of us who don't like wasting supermarket bags.  Keep this with you and use it whenever you're buying groceries at the local supermarket.

When you've emptied the bag, simply stuff it back into its miniature pouch and keep it with you until next time.

The bag is made out of 40d rip-stop taffeta.  Taffeta is a fancy way of saying 'very thin nylon'.  It doesn't feel very strong (which is unsurprising considering how light it is), and you wouldn't put sharp objects in it, but for normal purposes and not unduly heavy loads, it should be perfect.

The bag is light, small, easy to open out and close down again, and inexpensive.  It is available in several different colors, and costs only $12.85 from Magellan's.  It is a great little something for yourself, and also good as an inexpensive gift to give 'the person who has everything' in your life.

Update - this item seems to be discontinued, I found a few (in Nov 07) at in their closeout for $5.93 each.

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Originally published 16 Apr 2004, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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