I Never Leave Home Without It!

As a flight attendant, I have traveled extensively around the world. And now that summer is officially here, which translates into high season, I thought I would mention the one travel item I never leave home without.

It’s the simple and iconic LL Bean Boat & Tote Bag. I have been buying these tote bags for YEARS. It started when I was a teenager. As a daughter of a retired airline pilot, I was always hopping on and off airplanes, followed by a flight attendant career. I always had the indispensable canvas Made in the USA tote in my hand (see photos below).

Through the years I’ve probably bought about 20 boat & tote bags either by mail order or in LL Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine.

They’re available in various sizes and colors (with or without a zipper opening). They get better with age because they get softer each time they’re thrown in the wash. They’re durable and I don’t have to worry about them taking a beating because they’re relatively inexpensive. I like the tote because it holds small purchases such as souvenirs and it holds travel brochures, guides & maps that I collect along the way as well as my camera and on-the-go lunch. They also make great beach bags. When I’m home I continue to use it on a daily basis.

Amsterdam and Brugge 426

Strolling around Amsterdam (and no I didn’t ride the bike). I love Amsterdam’s architecture and Dutch masters. I can never get enough of this city. I have lost count as to how many times I have visited this friendly English-speaking city.

Amsterdam and Brugge 159

Ready to get on a Bumboat River Cruise in Singapore. This is a must-do in Singapore.

Barcelona, Provence & Monaco 025

In Barcelona at La Boqueria Food Market. This is a must-see spot located on La Rambla. It’s my favorite place in Barcelona.

Barcelona, Provence & Monaco 105

Strolling along Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence (one of my favorite places). I could live here.

July 2005 042

Hanging out with a couple of iguanas in Cabo San Lucas. To be honest, I would not go back to Cabo; it wasn’t my cup of tea. But I do like iguanas! John didn’t want to touch them; he’ll barely touch a frog, let alone an iguana.

Amsterdam and Brugge 598

In Brugge, Belgium. A delightful destination in the dead of winter when it’s crowd/tourist-free.

PARIS JAN. 2008 006

In Paris at Père Lachaise with a rust-color boat and tote bag. Stroll among the monuments and graves and discover Chopin, Colette, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, among others.

July 2005 710

Hanging out at San Francisco International Airport between flights! And that’s John’s LL Bean Back Pack on the seat next to me which he always takes with him on our travels.





26 thoughts on “I Never Leave Home Without It!

  1. Sue, these are cute & rare photos of YOU…very nice to see; as well as the places you visit.

    I have a question: how do you wear your hair when working a flight? Let us see, ok?

  2. I can see how the tote bag is very useful but, I want to make a comment on another issue. You are beautiful !!!! Wonderful seeing so many lovely picture of you !!!

  3. Love these pics of you! I truly never leave the house without an LL Bean tote. The are simply the best. I even keep one or two in the car for times when I buy more than one can hold!

  4. Thanks for sharing. Love the pictures, you are so photogenic! I agree with John, yuck! for any type of lizard! 😉

  5. I am curious about your favorite brand of a wheelable carryon luggage .I noticed the black on beside you in the last picture. I had a fellow tourist tell me her LL Bean in line wheeled carryon was the best and met domestic and international requirements. I would like aN expert opinion from an airline person . Thank you . Have followed you from the beginning off of the Huff post link. You guys are remarkable – patient and kind with Bill and patient and persevering with remodel !

    1. I took a couple of days off from my blog to go to work and discovered a bunch of comments when I just signed on…sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been using Samsonite for years and years and have never had a problem except on one of the suitcases–the zipper broke after about two years of heavy use and squeezing a lot of stuff in it. The zipper could take just so much before it ran off its track. I love TUMI. As I mentioned in a previous comment, it’s an expensive brand but well worth it. It’s a hard shell case and is very durable. I prefer it in black so that if you ever have to check your luggage, it doesn’t attract undue attention on the baggage carousel. It’s a pricey piece of luggage and advertising it in red or another bright color isn’t a good idea.

  6. Thanks for the travel photos. You can only look at so much sheet rock as you probably well know. I’m sure you’ll bring back many ideas from your travels to your “new” home.

  7. Since you’re a travel pro, do you have any recommendations on luggage brands that are durable, space efficient, etc? The bags in the SFO pic look to be pretty nice. Are those LL Bean also?

    1. The luggage in the SFO photo is Samsonite. John purchased the set for me and both pieces have taken a lot of abuse with constant use. I also like TUMI luggage because of the hard shell; it’s expensive but worth it.

  8. I love totes, too, and LL Bean products last a long time.
    However, I would have thought a tote might invite pickpockets during one’s travel adventures ….

    1. I’ve never had a problem. I do carry it against my chest in sketchy areas. Or it’s slung on my shoulder and forward of my arm. I’ve never been pickpocketed. I’m always aware of my surroundings.

  9. The Bean bags last forever! I have had one of the large bags for over 30 years. It’s not very pretty now because I use it to tote hand tools around in.

  10. I ordered a custom version of the bag for my dad for his birthday. Ordered on Sunday, shipped Tuesday, arrives Thursday! LLBean rocks!

  11. llbean also has a fabulous return policy. i bought my son a book bag for school, after a few months it developed a problem with the zipper. brought it back to Marlton, NJ store after i bought it online. with no receipt, monogrammed they took it back with no questions asked and we got a new one. fun to visit the flagship in freeport maine too.

    1. They do have an amazing return policy. I had a similar issue a few years ago with a pair of pants. They took them back after I had them for six months and gave me a full refund.

  12. Those are some handsome iguanas. I would touch them too.

    I just returned from three weeks in Italy. I didn’t have one of these totes but I did have one. Plus on my travels I picked up a medium sized French market basket made in Morocco.

    The construction of that bag is really superior to many others because the straps go all the way down and around the bottom.

  13. What size tote bag do you usually use? (in the pictures above) I’m having a hard time telling if it’s small or medium. I have the extra-large and it’s great for 4 people’s worth of swim gear at the beach.

    1. The totes are a size medium. I have a large one that I’ve used as a beach bag. It would be good to use as a market bag for groceries too.

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