It’s In The Bag

Queries aplenty have been spoken to me regarding packing for this 4 month stint on the road. Preparing for winter travel in the states, the tropics of Thailand, cruising the Atlantic and Spring in Europe certainly spurred me to some planning and stressing. Me, oh my, the logistics of it all!

The last couple years of travel have proven to us both that most material belongings in our home are simply that. Things that are collected over time that somehow we convince ourselves define our happiness. Belongings certainly do not equate to necessities. We rarely miss anything when gone on these long stretches (except our people ;-). This trip we were leaving our mountain home the second week of January and not returning until May and I packed for basically three different segments.

San Diego was the first trip. This was packed as a normal quick 4 night/5 day getaway to the sunshine with one shared mid size suitcase and a backpack with laptop. Simple and easy. A couple pairs of jeans each (one of which we wore), skirt for me, shorts for my honey and 7 shirts each to allow changing for dinners/nights out on the town after days of walking. Flip flops, swimsuits, light jacket (which we carried on the flight), shoes on our feet, toiletries and we were good to go.

Next up was the driving trip to the Midwest. For driving, we always carry bottled water, a small bag with coffee making essentials in case they are not in the rooms we book and cooler for fresh foods to minimize calorie intake and dining out expenses. We have a hanging clothes bar for the back seat for shirts/dresses (Hallelujah for folding less items!) and a mid size bag for each of us that holds underthings and jeans/bottoms and we take an extra dressier footwear option just in case as well as sneakers. With it being winter, we both wore light weight boots. Flip flops and swimsuits are always essentials as is trying to book hotels with pools appropriate for the season (indoor or outdoor). Each of us has an overnight bag with pool attire and toiletries and we just grab a shirt(s) and carry that in by hand and toss in whatever else we might need out of our midsize bag (basically our dresser) dependent on number of days stay at the stop into our overnight bag as we exit the vehicle to check in. This has seemed to work efficiently for us for a few years now and cuts down on the bulkiness/workout of both of us taking in a bigger bag. Our vehicle backseat is basically our closet. On the stays with multiple days and laundry facilities I typically spend a morning grabbing the dirty clothes bags and get things clean and dried and repacked into the truck. (This also allows us both some much needed alone time 😉 I always pack a bag with laundry soap and fabric softener sheets I keep under the passenger seat for ease of access and quarters are easily had at the hotel front desk.

The entire time we traveled the U.S. we had the bags for international travel untouched at the bottom of the pile in the backseat to be pulled out when it was time to fly. They contain the limited amounts of necessities (except ample supplies of items you may not easily find out of the US) that need to be the focus to stay within transportation baggage guidelines. The logical first place to start in this packing venture was researching the websites for requirements for each mode of transport we would use during our travels. For this year’s travels that meant, Alaska Airlines (Boise to Reno and LA to Ft Lauderdale), Southwest Airlines (Reno to LAX), China Eastern Airlines (LAX to Bangkok and back), Air Asia (Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back, Chiang Mai to Penang and back), Holland America Cruise Lines (Ft Lauderdale to Citavecchia, Italy), Aegean Airlines (Rome to Athens), RyanAir (Athens to Budapest), Easy Jet (Budapest to Paris) and Wow Air (Paris to San Francisco). This mix of carriers provided a varying amount of stowable carry on, checked baggage and personal items with allowances for different weights also. Frugality is part of what allows us the extent of travel we are partaking in so we opt not to pay baggage fees unless absolutely necessary. Therefore, finding the basic common denominator of all these providers was my first goal. I found that factor to be checked baggage not to exceed 62 linear inches (height + weight + depth (including wheels). That meant the two largest bags we owned, that we purchased last year in Thailand for transporting back all the purchases we made for our retail operations and souvenirs would work. They are hard sided, 4 wheeled roller bags which are super easy to maneuver and their colors make them a can’t miss on the baggage turnstile.

Next up for my calculations was converting kg to pounds or at least getting my head around metric units of measurement. For ease of these calculations, as well as insuring no overages when repacking after each stay I ordered a handy dandy little luggage scale from Amazon to use for peace of mind (stowed in the bag with the laptops). I dread getting to the airport and having to reorganize when checking in, no matter how much cushion time we have, that is a crazy maker for me! In regards to conversions you can easily use a converter on the net but when shopping in a metric using country (most of the world!) it is nice not to worry about service/WiFi to get your answer. A great simple formula I found is to double the kg number, take all but the last digit and add to that doubled number and boom, approximate pounds! (Ex. 65 kg doubled is 130. Add 13. 143 lbs!)

First items to consider for our bags was what I knew we were going to need that I might not be able to come by easily outside the U.S. For starters, getting prescription meds lined out for the entire time (especially when extended past a normal 30 day supply) can take some hoop jumping between your insurance carrier, the pharmacy and your doc so you are not paying out of pocket. Best to give yourself 30 days to insure these logistics all come together. These definitely fall under necessity. As a side note I use a Symbicort inhaler and big pharma Astrozeneca, who produces it are running a “special” where they cover your copay for a full year. It’s as simple as going here and filling out a form. It’s a great savings, free is always good!

Experience has taught me that sunscreen is always important, it’s no fun to sport or care for a burn when taking in the sights or lounging by the pool or on the beach. One of our policies for travel is if we forget something or if it adds unnecessary weight just buy it on arrival. It would seem to make sunscreen fall into this category as a n