Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Totes Explorer

Let me tell you about the best ever travel bag: the Totes Explorer.  It’s made of durable polyester, lightweight and soft-sided, and by my measure, is 14” x  24” x 10” with two large outside pockets (with two-way zippers) for your toiletries bag, books or Kindle (or dirty underwear when you’re headed home) and one very large U-shaped zipper that opens the entire top side of the bag fully for packing. It has four ways to carry it! The usual shoulder strap, a horizontal handle to carry it like a briefcase, an additional handle at top to hang it vertically from a door hook (or to hold in front of you when you’re navigating those narrow airplane aisles), and best of all, straps to wear it as a backpack. (Plus, there’s also a waist strap to secure it, which I never use.) Best of all, you can fill it and still cram it into just about any overhead bin  even on CRJs and Embraers  (those small regional jets where tall people have to stoop or hit their heads on the ceiling). The Totes Explorer fits anywhere.

Doesn't it sound terrific?  Aren't you thinking, "Hey, that sounds like a bag I could use..." ? Well, don’t try to find it. Incredibly, this terrific bag’s been out of production for many years.  We own the last four on the planet. 

Why is it that virtually every time I find a product I really love, they stop making it?

First it was Sea Source by Helene Curtis. (Is that still a company?) This lush aqua shampoo was so great you didn’t need conditioner. It made your hair feel unbelievably rich and luxurious  just like the hair on TV commercials!  My daughter and I both loved it. She still has two partial bottles in her room. But seeing as they stopped making it in 2003, I suspect they're in some stage of emulsification-disintegration.

Next, it was Lawry’s Chinese Chicken Salad dressing.  You know how great that Chinese Chicken Salad is in restaurants?  With the greens and the Mandarin oranges, the shredded carrots and cabbage and the water chestnuts with the slivered almonds on top?  Well, Lawry’s (of seasoned salt fame) used to make this delicious dressing that was as good as what you’d get in a restaurant. Not anymore.

Then it was the bra by Vanity Fair. Fit me perfectly, no padding in the cups, straps weren’t too wide, never slid off my stoop-shoulders, came in black, white and flesh. Gone. Since that particular style went off the market I have yet to find another that really fits. [To be truthful, my mother was a lingerie salesperson at the end of her working career and she deserves the credit for finding it; she always fit me, figured out what was best, and then, when it went on sale, bought a supply (with her discount) and mailed them to me. This was our practice for decades.  After she died, I didn’t buy bras for years. When I finally had to, I cried, cried, cried in the dressing room.  Since 2005 none of the bras I've bought have fit right. Not a one]

When I was graduating from high school and headed to college (first in the family) my aunt gave me this over-sized, purple quilted unstructured zipper-all-the-way-around bag.  It was huge and because it had no structure at all, it could be shoved or stuffed anywhere.  I used that bag for decades before my daughter took it over when SHE went to college. After overseas travel, the handle ripped and though we had it restitched twice, clearly it was on its last legs. My daughter was upset (I’m not the only one who has this luggage fixation) so I searched and searched the internet looking for that same bag or something very similar.  But even the best bag I could find, wasn’t enough the same.

When I found out the Totes Explorers were discontinued, I frantically pleaded with a phone rep who tracked down the last remaining bags (he found them in a Totes Outlet). I got them for the whole family. Lately I have been thinking I should take the kids’ bags away because they don’t treat them as reverently as I do. 

And unlike taxes and difficult holidays with your family, once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

1 comment:

  1. We're so different. What bothers me is having too many choices!