Category Archives: Travel

Samsonite Xenon 2 Backpack

Samsonite Xenon 2 backpack - exterior

Samsonite Xenon 2 backpack – exterior

My favorite computer bag is the Samsonite Xenon 2 backpack. My wife found this for me when we were stuck in Fort Lauderdale after all outgoing flights got cancelled.

What I love about it:

  • Travel friendly – the computer section unzips to lay flat for airport X-ray machines
  • Five compartments – this bag has two bottle pockets (I use these for an umbrella and my coffee mug) on the exterior and 5 zippered compartments (2 tiny compartments, 1 iPad-sized compartment, and 2 large compartments)
  • Huge – I have squeezed a Lenovo T430, a Lenovo x220, and an HP Stream 11 in this bag at the same time along with all the other stuff I normally carry
  • Nooks and crannys – the interior sections are split to keep things organized
  • Carry handle – there is a comfortable handle at the top of the bag for times when you don’t want to sling it over your shoulder
  • Sits upright – more than any other bag, this one can sit upright pretty well as long as the laptop section zippers are not completely unzipped
  • Easy access – it is very easy to get stuff into and out of this bag using only one hand
  • Stackable – this bag has a loop that will fit over your rolling bag’s handles
  • Padding – there is thick padding on the side that comes in contact with your body
  • Lining – the two tiny pockets and the computer sleeve have a very soft lining

What could be better:

  • Zippers open on their own – I have had zippers on the 2 largest compartments slowly unzip many times. I remedied this by hooking the two zipperheads on each compartment together with mini-caribiners
  • Key hook – there is nothing to hang your keys on – weird since even cheap backpacks come with a key hook these days
  • Computer padding – although there is padding around the laptop section, it could be thicker – especially at the bottom of the bag

This bag has been my daily carry bag since the beginning of 2014. I have taken it on every trip that I have taken. It continues to serve me well. If you are looking for a well-made and well-designed computer backpack, consider this Samsonite Xenon 2 backpack.

Porter Airlines – Recommended

Porter Airlines

Porter Airlines
Credit: Andrew.O
Creative Commons

I flew to Toronto from Boston on Porter Airlines this week and I had a great experience all around.

Both flights were on a Bombardier Q400.  This is a little turbo-prop plane that can hold 78 passengers.  My flight to Toronto only had 18 people onboard.  Although I am normally hesitant to fly on these little planes, I really have no complaints or regrets about choosing this flight/plane combination.

Bombardier Q400 interior

Bombardier Q400
Credit: Francis Mariani
Creative Commons

Porter has some nice little service perks.  For example, they serve drinks in a real glass instead of cheap plastic cups.  Also there was complimentary wine – though I did not partake.

In addition to the experience of Porter Airlines, the airport experience was also great.  The location of Billy Bishop Airport (code: YTZ) in Toronto is crazy-convenient.  It is situated on a little island a couple hundred feet offshore from the city.  You only have to take a short ferry ride (departs every 15 minutes-ish).  There is a free shuttle bus that takes you from the airport to Union Station in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Billy Bishop Airport

Billy Bishop Airport
credit: s.yume
Creative Commons

The only airlines that I noticed that service this airport are Porter and Air Canada – though there might be others.  The international waiting area was very nice.

Billy Bishop waiting area

Billy Bishop waiting area
credit: Christopher S. Penn
Creative Commons

The main waiting area consists of groups of partitioned off sitting areas.  Each area has six arm chairs, coffee tables and reading lamps – very nice.  There is even a business centre containing two rows of Apple iMac computers (here is an image of one row).  I’ll get more images next time.

Billy Bishop business centre iMacs

Billy Bishop business centre iMac
Credit: Eduardo Sanchez

Another plus about this airport: no naked-body scanner!

If you are flying into Toronto I highly recommend Billy Bishop Airport.