Mini Jen bag – Mia Tui hand luggage review
You can never have too many pockets. Trousers with no pockets (or those zips pretending to be pockets) drive me mad. Bags with no internal organisation are even worse – I was once convinced I had locked myself out of my flat after my keys slid to the most unreachable corner of a huge slouch bag.
And when I’m travelling, especially when I’m trying to juggle my bag, my daughter’s bag and my daughter herself, I don’t want to spend extra time rummaging frantically for the one thing I need urgently. Which is where those pockets come in: compartments, sections, useful little areas designed for all the odds and ends you inevitably end up carrying.
I also want it to be big enough to hold the essentials but not so big it’s going to weigh a ton, to go comfortably on my shoulder, and to look lovely. Frankly pockets are just the start. The designers at Mia Tui have evidently met people like me before when creating their gorgeous range – and not only come up with bags which tick off everything on my list but one or two things I’d never thought of.
Designed by a mother of two who was also fed up of scrabbling about looking for things in black-lined bags (because a black interior makes it so much easier to find things, right?), Mia Tui means simply, My Bag, in Vietnamese – where she was living at the time and where they’re still made. They’re even made without animal-based products, so suitable for vegans, although if you’re visualising cheap shiny synthetic alternatives, the luxurious soft feel and leather look is miles away from that.
And while you could use quite a few of the dozen or so designs as hand luggage, two of the range – the Jennie and the Mini Jen – have a cunning additional pocket on the side so you can slide it over your suitcase handles.
So when I was offered a bag to review before my stay in Tuscany, that swung my decision: also tempted by the Olivia’s design and size, the Mini Jen suited me better than the bigger Jennie but still had that fun travel extra. And as a bonus, it comes in the most gorgeous vibrant green, somewhere between a deep turquoise and a light teal, with a matching bright interior – as well as several neutral and metallic options and some other tempting shades.
But back to those pockets… because once you open up the bag there’s also a matching clutch bag with a cross-body strap and a wrist strap, sitting neatly in a pocket that’s also the perfect size for a large tablet/small laptop. On the other side of the bag is another section holding a small PVC bag: although most airports are strict about the clear plastic bags you’re allowed to use, it’s a great bonus for keeping make-up in for everyday use, easy to lift in and out.
At one end, there’s an insulated bottle holder (just right for stashing some water) and at the other, a pocket with slots for pens and space for a phone (or sunglasses and snack bars, I discovered). And a key clip. There’s even an extra longer strap if you don’t want to carry it by the standard shoulder straps.
Which still leaves room for plenty in the main central compartment – purse, clear bag of toiletries, travel wallet with passports as I was ambling through the airport to Langkawi, but also space for my camera, purse and notepad as we explored Florence and Siena (not to mention tissues, wet wipes, lip balm, keys, portable battery chargers, Kindle among other things).
I also discovered that the bottle holder was just the right size for holding my small umbrella, so it didn’t get water all over everything else.
Although it’s smaller than the Jennie bag, it’s still pretty capacious at 35 x 14 x 29cm. For both trips, I used it as a second hand luggage bag – flying hand luggage only to Tuscany along with my Cabin Zero backpack and teamed with a small hold-all for Langkawi – so if you prefer to travel with a single bag, the larger one might work better.
For me, it was the perfect size to then use as a handbag during the day though, and at £52 (the Jennie is £55, the Olivia £49.99) it’s also a lot cheaper than my everyday handbag.
On the outside, there’s also a small zip pocket on the section which slides over suitcase handles – perhaps the only flaw I found was that it’s very easy to accidentally slide something into the gap behind the zip pocket rather than into the pocket itself. After I’d almost done this with my phone once, it’s easy to be aware of it though. It’s also just the right size for holding small bears…
And the style factor? It worked wandering around Italy’s chic cities, it was easy to sling over my shoulder for an air conditioned visit to Langkawi’s 3D art museum, and looked glam as I checked in to the luxurious Danna hotel where we were staying – plus the clutch was ideal to carry down to the restaurant in the evening.
Because I am rubbish at unpacking, it also came to work with me the day after we landed back – far easier to throw in a few extra things than transfer everything back to my normal everyday handbag in a jetlagged haze – and got an appreciative thumbs up from a colleague too.
All I need now is an excuse to buy the cornflower blue version as well.
Disclosure: The Mini Jen bag was sent to me for the purposes of review – all opinions, including an obsession with pockets, are my own. This post also contains an affiliate link: any purchases you may make are unaffected but I may receive a few pennies.
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Images copyright MummyTravels. Images featuring me are courtesy of Karen Beddow/MiniTravellersLIKED THIS? GET MORE ON FACEBOOK