By May 16, 2011 Read More →

Home working bag lady

Home working bag lady
Last week we spent three very busy days in London, meeting old and new friends and business contacts.

I had appointments in places all over central London and carried my laptop around to find cafes and other places I could get online.

(The Royal Festival Hall is my latest discovery – loads of tables and chairs where you can get free wifi in a light and airy environment with no obligation to keep buying coffee).

I’ve never managed to solve the dilemma of how to carry all my stuff in this situation and always end up hung about with bags like a home working bag lady. My usual cross-body bag gets full to bursting, plus I have my laptop in a cotton shoulder bag with notebook and A-Z. Not a very elegant solution.

I prefer to walk around London whenever possible as it’s so fascinating (my favourite sight this trip was a chap coming out of Charing Cross station with a ferret curled around his neck – on a lead, I was glad to see as he passed close in front of me!)

I can’t decide whether to buy a large bag that would hold my laptop as well as my Filofax, brolly, personal bits and pieces and everything else, or whether this would end up being too heavy on my city strolls.

My everyday bag came from this site that sells leather bags for men and women that are incredibly good value, and they stock bigger bags that would do the trick. Have any of you clever home workers come up with an answer to this question?

PS There are now more suggestions on Home working bag lady Part 2

Posted in: Mobile working

38 Comments on "Home working bag lady"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sharon says:

    I like something that doesn’t look like it’s a laptop bag for starters. You know, something that doesn’t scream “hey there’s expensive gadgets in here”. I am still looking for the perfect messenger style bag. My laptop isn’t full sized so I can get away with something like that.

    For bits and pieces I have invested in a ScotteVest jacket – lots of pockets and designed to balance well.

    • judy says:

      That’s a good point, Sharon, although I think some people quite like flashing their expensive technology around 🙂

      Have to confess I’d never come across ScotteVest before, so thanks for that.

      If you’d consider an alternative to a messenger bag, @CatherineRaynor is devoted to her Targus bag, available from Amazon – ‘Targus all the way – couldn’t live without mine! Padded laptop section in main bag plus lots of different pockets that enable you to have a ‘handbag’ section too!’

      And @Rose_Darling says ‘Trolley-type briefcases with wheels are good if you’re travelling. I use a laptop riser and separate keyboard, hence needed!’

      I knew I’d get some great ideas from the ingenious bunch that are home workers!

    • Carol says:

      No, no, no to shoulder bags! Look after your body and have a good old fashioned rucsac. My Ameribag has loads of compartments for everything. I usually also have a very small and light shoulder bag for the things I need immediately to hand – purse and phone.

      • San Sharma says:

        Agree with you, Carol! Shoulder bags aren’t good for you – much prefer my rucksack, which evens out the weight. If you’re doing a lot of mobile working and buying a new laptop, its weight is a serious consideration. I went from a MacBook Pro to an Air, and it’s made my life a whole lot easier!

        • judy says:

          Hi Carol
          Thanks for the suggestion. It seems that people get very attached to their favourite bags, ha, ha!
          Ideally I’d like just one bag to hold everything and it would be a cross-body bag, as you can access them so much more easily than a rucksack to get out your purse or whatever.
          However, it remains to be seen whether this will work in practice! It might only happen when I get a lighter laptop, San, and that could be some time yet…

  2. margaret says:

    If you are going to meetings that are already set up, why do you need your laptop as well? I find just a mobile does me….if I am taking a portfolio to show a client the samples are never bigger than A3. I take that and the smallest crossbody bag I can get my money in. I have also got a groovy backpack (quite small) which I would use for a laptop if I was going to carry it around. I find crossbody bags too heavy, I like the Scaramanga bags but I bet they are heavy, being leather. I am a World expert in travelling light. I always need some spare capacity in case I see a TKMAXX that I have to call in at on my travels.

    • judy says:

      It’s to check emails, Twitter etc to make sure I don’t miss anything crucial – and because I’m so nosy I can’t bear to wait!

      My Scaramanga satchel is light as it’s quite small, but gets heavy once it’s loaded! Trouble is I do like to ‘be prepared’ and carry all sorts of bits and pieces – one pocket is a miniature pharmacy. Maybe it’s time I became a handbag minimalist as well as the rest 🙂

  3. margaret says:

    sounds like you need to purchase a smaller laptop? or is it a smartphone? blackberry? (I’m way behind in the tekkie world)

    • judy says:

      Gasp – I love my MacBook and I like my gadgets to last (my dishwasher is 22) so I’ll be sticking with it a long time yet 🙂

  4. At a recent networking event, one of those attending asked the speaker, an osteopath, about the best way to carry around the bag of tricks we all need (like you, I need my MacBook Pro as well as my iPhone). She wanted to know whether it was better to carry all this stuff in a bag held in the hand or in a shoulder bag. The osteopath was adamant. Neither. A bag on wheels is the only way. Hand luggage cases are great for this – I recently bought one for a big trip; it’s incredibly light and easy to manoeuvre – and it doesn’t take long to get over the fear that you’ll be laughed at. If you buy carefully, you can find one that enhances, rather than hinders, your public image. So that’s my answer.

    • judy says:

      Thanks for that, Joanna, it certainly makes sense. My only reservation is that once when I was staying overnight I did cart my laptop around in a bag with wheels, and when I got home it had developed a fault with the microphone and had to go back to Apple for repair. Maybe the two events weren’t connected, but I’ve been cautious ever since. Can anyone comment?

  5. Don says:

    I have found that Tom Bihn bags are great. They have messenger style bags as well backpacks. I have two of the bags now. They hold a ton of stuff. Of course you would have to pay duty as it is made in the US. As a person who travels often they meet all my needs.

    • judy says:

      Thanks for introducing me to another new brand, Don. At this rate with a new jacket and bag I could take pretty much my whole office with me and nobody would notice!
      The Tom Bihn website has a very comprehensive FAQ section, and for those home workers in Europe wondering, like me, about how much tax we’d pay:
      ‘According to the reports we receive from customers, inconsistency is the rule. In the U.K. and Germany, for example, taxes and tariffs are assessed on some shipments and not on others.’

  6. Tracey Smith says:

    Hi lovely lady! My dear chum Catherine Lloyd-Evans has a great line in upcycled fabric bags for that very thing….. see her smashing ideas at Original Stitch. lots of love, TS xx

  7. Judy Mansfield says:

    I now use a notebook – cheapie Advent from PC World, as carting the laptop around was hurting my neck. I have a smart Radley briefcase with padded laptop insert – and it holds a ton of other stuff… taking me back into ‘too heavy’ territory. M&S do a very smart wheeled grey suitcase that is a portable office – it has a well padded laptop sleeve, lots of pockets, and is small enough to use as cabin baggage, but holds lots of essentials… Thanks for tips on Festival Hall – am in London tomorrow and Saturday so will no doubt be there checking on next week’s Normandy Jelly!

  8. judy says:

    Lots of good tips there, but of course you are a very well-travelled home worker, Judy!
    Good luck with Normandy Jelly – looking forward to hearing the news from France.

  9. margaret says:

    hi, I have a new link that somebody I know I has just bought a satchel from maybe you could have a look, they are really fab, a bit heavy but you get get one you wear on your back, they have them in great colours I don’t know how to put a link on twitter or fb, or here by the looks of it!

    • judy says:

      Thanks, Marg, the link is fine! The colours are lovely, shame no pic of the yellow though. And what good value prices. I might steal the link for my FB page – crediting you, of course 🙂
      The trunks would make interesting pieces of furniture for the home office, or anywhere else for that matter.
      I spotted a nice, soft leather bag in White Stuff at the weekend, a ladies’ one you’ll be glad to know, with big enough handles to carry or sling over the shoulder. But only in dark brown – would have been v tempted if it was a bright colour.

  10. Ali Davies says:

    For a meeting where I will need quite a few bits and bobs I use a pilot style bag. You know the ones you see pilot’s carrying in the airport. They have lots of different sections and the laptop goes in the middle one so that it is well protected.
    Having said that it can get quite heavy if you stuff it with loads of stuff so perhaps only practical if you don’t have to walk too far.
    I love it though – sturdy, looks professional without being too formal, and the compartments mean it is easy to find everything.

    • judy says:

      Thanks, Ali, that’s another new idea for me, so I’ve just Googled it! I love the way everybody has their own solutions for a similar situation – you certainly can’t generalise about home workers 🙂

  11. San Sharma says:

    I’ve been taking mobile working a lot more seriously recently, splitting my time, fairly evenly, between home, a co-working space and coffee shops.

    As such, I’ve invested in a pretty cool bag. It’s exclusive to the Apple Store (they saw me coming), and it’s designed by Ally Capellino.

    It looks great, and it holds my laptop snug, my iPhone and other bits and bobs too.

    • Sharon says:

      Lots of suggestions Judy – and San, they certainly did see you coming lol. Looks nice though 🙂

    • judy says:

      Wow, San, that is a really stylish bag, and a great selection of colours for us girls too! My MacBook would fit nicely into it. Maybe I’ll hang onto the bag lady look a bit longer and keep saving my pennies 🙂

  12. margaret says:

    I agree, San’s bag is fab. I like the paler grey version.
    Good tip San, have a gold star and a housepoint! no scribbling on it mind!

  13. Judy Mansfield says:

    I fully understand the rucksack theory about it being better for your back/neck than shoulder bags. My only observations about rucksacks if travelling on public transport are that (a) it is very easy for pickpockets to dive in, so keep valuables away from the handy pockets, and (b) remember your rucksackiquette (yes, I made up the word!) and take the thing off when you are on the tube (especially those that seem to be the size of a small refrigerator)!! Sure it doesn’t apply to WFHW people; we are all super-considerate!

  14. judy says:

    Great word, Judy, have you tried saying it after a couple of glasses of French red?
    And it’s not just the tube where rucksacks are a nuisance – I’ve been barged plenty of times on the pavement, and in shops it can be impossible to get past in a crowded aisle. It’s worst where packs of rucksackers (that’s the collective noun, presumably?) are travelling together and I think we away from home workers have more solitary habits. Unless we’re going to Jelly, of course!

  15. Corrina Gordon-Barnes says:

    I love this topic, Judy, because I have never – in my seven years of self-employment – seen a discussion about which bag to use!

    My current bag is totally unfit for purpose so I shall be checking out all these great links – what a wonderful resource.

    I’ve recently done myself a favour and bought a Mac Air (typing on it now, in Cambridge Library in fact!) and it is heaven sent. So light and portable!

    Thanks again for this topic,

    • judy says:

      Glad it’s useful, Corrina – I like to think I illuminate the parts other websites don’t reach!
      Do let us all know what kind of bag you choose.

  16. Steven Vu says:

    I’m currently at the Royal Festival and it is indeed amazing. Do you know of any equally nice places in London to work?

    I’ve heard the BFI is pretty good.


    • San Sharma says:

      Shameless plug time: take a look at our website and mobile app to find other laptop-friendly workspaces in London and other cities around the world: 🙂

    • judy says:

      Thanks for the tip, Steven, must make a point of checking it out one day. I was planning to refer you to WorkSnug but I see my friend San has got there before me!

  17. Caradiaz says:

    I’ve never been a satchel gir, I’l afraid… I prefer totes or large should bags.

    My favourite to travel with when carrying only hand luggage is a khaki Marc by Marc Jacobs tote I bought from last year. It is not only strong yet light, but incredibly capacious and very comfortable to carry, even when heavily loaded.

    • Judy says:

      I’ve learned through experience that sometimes cheaper bags aren’t as easy to carry – it’s amazing how much difference the width of the strap etc can make to comfort and carryability.

  18. I have an incase compact backpack which is a medium sized backpack but still takes everything I need it to. It is very comfortable to wear on my back unlike most I have tried and has a good handle on the top for use when jumping on and off public transport which I do a lot.