My Life as a Traveler

On a Roll

Several years ago I stopped checking my bags at the airport. I found that there is time saved by not waiting in line to check them when you get to the airport and not waiting for them at the baggage claim (one time we had to wait 45 minutes because there was a thunderstorm in Philly). These days. there is money saved as the airlines are charging for checked bags. In fact, Spirit Airlines is even charging for the bag you bring on the plane — thank goodness the others refuse to follow that evil plan. You are safer because you don’t have to worry about carrying something far that’s heavy to lift. And it makes life easier when your schedule, for whatever reason, changes. You always have your bags with you.

This strategy has worked for trips (including cruises) up to two weeks. BUT now I’m facing FIVE weeks gone. Checking the weather, it looks like the high temps of the day might get as high as 85 in Toulouse, and as low as 32 in the Alps. Not summer, not winter, but both. Like the Amazing Race! Can I still carry on?

Yes! I have spent the last couple of hours going through my clothes, and here’s what I’m bringing:

  • Pants: jeans (wear on plane), light cotton pants that roll up, capris that double as yoga pants
  • 1 long skirt, and slip for said skirt
  • shirts: 2 long-sleeved shirts (wear one on plane), 2 t-shirts, one short-sleeved mini-dress thing that I wear with pants, one tunic top, 2 tank tops (yoga and  hot weather)
  • underwear: 9 pairs, 2 bras (wear one on plane), sports bra, 3 camisoles with bra shelf , 3 prs socks, silk long underwear, top and bottom (good for sleeping if cold)
  • vest with pockets (wear on plane), and a light sweater
  • shoes: 1 pr good hiking/tennis shoes (wear on plane), sandals, comfortable nice shoes with heel that can walk all over town
  • misc: knee-length nightgown with robe (robe doubles as swimsuit cover up), swimsuit (for the inevitable hot tub or river dunk)
  • cell phone, netbook, iPod touch, Magic jack phone plug (you can call me and I can call you for free as long as I’m plugged into the computer, leave me a message and it goes to my email), camera, maybe small new video camera, chargers for all the above, headphones and ear buds, european plug adapters, movie adapter for headphone
  • credit cards (I called the fraud department ahead of time and let them know where I was going so they don’t think the card or number was stolen and used for ill-gotten cappuccino), health insurance cards, driver’s license, passport (and copies of each of these), oh, and my USAirways Club pass and Platinum card (nice to flash – gets us in the frequent traveler clubs).
  • 3 novels to read that I got from the library book sale, will leave in Europe
  • 1 travel book (Rick Steves, baby!) on Switzerland, pages ripped out of France and Germany books re places we’re going
  • toiletries (all liquids and gels in 3oz or less containers, all in a 1 qt Ziploc), will get toothpaste and shampoo in Europe, bring makeup, face lotions, razor, shower cap, deodorant, toothbrush, floss, comb, small sunscreen
  • cloth backpack rolled up in luggage to use as purse, money belt, wallet with pen and small notepad, some US dollars, plastic wine opener (goes thru security)
  • 2 scarves to jazz things up, plus one heavier scarf for cold
  • tea bags, Lemon-lime Airborne, Ibuprofen, bandaids, panty liners, Tylenol, Immodium (for those special times), lip balm, wipes, hair bands
  • folding yoga mat and travel candle (the x-ray people always think I’m smuggling something and have to check it out)
  • inflatable pillow, eye cover, earplugs, sleeping socks
  • mini flashlight, extra tote bag, sunglasses, extra batteries, small reading light, Altoids, hand balm
  • Above and Beyond Certificates to give for good service on USAir (I try to give at least one per trip)
  • for cold: ear cover, tiny gloves, down jacket with hood (wear on plane)
  • empty water bottle to fill after security
  • assorted earrings and necklaces, 2 watches (nice one and sturdy one)
  • some little clothespin-like things to hang my laundry (and there WILL be laundry, I’ll use the shampoo as laundry soap)
  • Confirmations of the trip, train tickets and the like, plus a spiral bound notebook for ideas.

I think that’s about it. I tried to keep a palette of brown, black, and green and every piece of clothing or shoes can be worn at least with 2 other pieces, mix-and-match. I debated about whether to take an umbrella, as my coat is not terribly waterproof. But an umbrella is heavy, and I can wear the shirt with a hood with the coat with a hood.

Here’s me and my luggage (and my cat). This all can be carried on (except the cat).

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