Friday, December 30, 2011

Carry On vs. Checking Luggage vs. Listening To Your Wife

I caught this story on yesterday and had to laugh:

We are lucky enough to be going on a family trip to Europe in late September. That’s me, my husband and our two boys aged 12 and 6. We will be gone for close to one month and are travelling to the UK, Italy and France. Our kids have never been out of Australia and are very excited. My husband has a conference to go to in Cannes so we have arranged this trip around his business trip.

I’m sure it will be amazing but last night my husband announced that he can’t stand dragging huge amounts of luggage around and hates waiting for suitcases with other impatient travellers all hustling for space around the baggage collection areas………we are (apparently!) taking one overnight bag each.
Now this news has given me a mild heart attack. I don’t think I can do it. Don’t my clothes deserve a holiday too? Is this even possible? I can’t imagine leaving for a month without at least four pairs of shoes (trainers, Birkenstocks, one ‘party’ pair and another gorgeous day wear pair – at least!).
And then my mind really went wild. What if it’s cold in the UK? We’ll need jackets. What if we go to a fabulous party in Cannes? That’s a whole special frock with matching shoes and handbag. What about toiletries and all the technology/chargers/power converter crappola you have to take? Not to mention book, camera, hat, bathers.

And then there’s the stuff I wouldn’t go away for a weekend without. Jeans, tops, t-shirts, trackie pants, wrap thingy, cool dress….

I reckon I can pack light for my boys. They wouldn’t care if they wore the same thing every day. But I don’t plan to spend every night of our holiday washing socks and jocks for the next day! I want to ask the lovely and very clever MamaMias if they ever travel very light and if so, what do they take and what do they leave? I need help!

You know, we kind of had this discussion on our last overseas trip. I suggested we carry on only. There were a number of responses I was expecting:

  • No, no we are not. Next topic.
  • Sure Benji, you do whatever you want. I'm going to pack how I want, and you can pack how you want.
  • Sure Benji, we'll pack carry on (as we walk out the door, two large rolling bags appear*).

Never, in my wildest dreams, would I expect her to be unhappy with my request, and go along with it!

On a more serious note, for our last trip, checking luggage turned out to be not evil at all. In fact, there were a number of benefits:

  • The travel arrangement was simple - car, to baggage check, to baggage pickup, to taxi, to our hotel room. We weren't shlepping bags using public transportation, so having a couple of large'ish rolling bags, was quite reasonable.
  • Checking the suitcases meant that while traveling through the airport we had less to schelp and less to worry about it. It was the ultimate in packing light.
  • Both our carry-ons fit under the seat in front of us, so we didn't need to stress about finding an available overhead compartment. This, made boarding a more relaxed experience.
  • Smaller carry-ons meant a slight easier trip through security

And then there are two main arguments one might use: what if they lose your luggage and what about lost time waiting for your luggage at baggage claim?

I try to approach travel is as an adventure that's an exercise in making the best of your circumstances. If they lose my luggage, that's cool, it'll give me a chance to improvise and make do without. And if the luggage arrives, that's fine too.

And what's the rush? So, you have to wait 5 more minutes to pick up your bags? Again, I'm all about making do with my circumstances. Perhaps the baggage claim area is a good time to get my bearings, do a little people watching, and generally get my head in the game.

If our trip had been different (say, we were changing hotels a number of times, or we needed to take public transportation to get to our hotel), I may have pushed harder on the one-carry-on-bag suggestion. But, realistically, our trip was probably more enjoyable because I listened to my wife, and didn't push it.


*Maryn, not I, came up with this gem of a response. But, thinking on it, I could totally see it happening.

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