Wednesday, November 7, 2007

No longer a Light Traveler...

It’s 4:30 am and I’m awake, getting ready to leave for the airport at 5:30 am. Since I am not a morning person, my brain is slightly stunned at the indignity of this early awakening. But there’s another part of my brain that is grumbling - I’ve got a bone to pick with the rules that are making it more difficult for me to travel light these days.

I know, I know, it’s not patriotic to grumble. I’m an upstanding citizen, so you won’t actually hear me complain when I get to the airport. But, over the years, I worked hard to pare down my packing, which has been ruined by rules about 3 ounce bottles and quart-size baggies.

I realized the need to streamline during my first work-related international trip. We were heading to Kenya, Ethiopia and Madagascar and I was completely out of control. I had the basics down, like taking clothes that coordinate. (I think my color palette for that trip was black, white and red – as if you needed to know that essential information!) But I took way too much, ending up with this HUGE suitcase and another bag to check, PLUS a small rolling suitcase and my 35mm camera case. It was not pretty, especially when you take into consideration the trinkets I picked up along the way – and the fact that international carriers often have weight restrictions that are lighter than domestic airlines.

Anyway, when I got back I rid myself of the large suitcase and decided that if I couldn’t take what I needed in a more reasonable-sized checked bag – if I checked a bag at all – then I needed to find a way to make it fit, no matter how long the trip. I’ve taken a domestic-size carry-on suitcase and a backpack on a 3-week international trip (and many other shorter trips) and fared just fine…

But with the new restrictions on liquids, all of my paring down is in danger of disappearing. I’m all for making the airways a safer place to be, but that’s countered by a personal need to have my own shampoo and conditioner. Add in some hair product, a little makeup, toothpaste, contact lens cleaning solutions and it’s almost impossible to fit all those things – even if I’m using small bottles – into one quart-sized baggie, especially if you’re on a trip that is more than a week long.

Eventually, I reach a tipping point in packing where it’s more hassle to think about buying travel-sized EVERYTHING each time I take a trip - and to put my personal hygiene regimen on display in a clear plastic baggie - than it is to break down and check a bag, only to have to wait at baggage claim for my luggage. My need for Sebastian’s Potion 9 is apparently worth the wait. The thing is, if I check a bag I give up on paring down:

Scented lotion? Absolutely!
Almond-scented facial scrub? Too tempting to leave behind!
Small bottle of aromatherapy oil? Can’t live without it!
Extra book I will devour in 3 hours and then haul around for the rest of the trip? Why not!
Sweater I love but will probably not wear? Take me with you!

The essentials are overtaken by the frivolous – which is how I ended up at the airport this morning with a bag that weighed 48 pounds. And only 2 pairs of shoes in the suitcase. This all seems counter-intuitive in an era where the airlines are trying to impose tighter restrictions on the amount of baggage we with bring with us. But at least I had room for the cuticle crème…


Wendy said...

I should read your blog more often...

okay- call me;)helix1993

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

So when are we going to hear about all your trips to Phoenix, OR, and WHY you are traveling there so often??? Or why you have been and will be going to TN?