Traveling light

September 20th, 2015 by John Morris

Kudos to the airlines for making luggage a profit center.  By charging travelers $25 and more to transport backpacks and such items, they created bottle necks at the gates and on the planes.

On my recent trip, I noticed travelers pulling full sized luggage to their planes.  They’re avoiding the tiresome extra charges by making life difficult for their flight crews and fellow travelers.  One hipster loaded two large backpacks on one flight.  One in the overhead – which barely closed – and one in his lap causing distress for the attendants.  This logjam forced the gate personnel to plea with them to check in the outsized bags so the rest of us could have some storage space.  Very few complied, and it made life rough.

Once all this gear is shoehorned into the plane it creates another problem.  What was once just annoying is now flaming up short fuses.  It now takes twice as long to deplane.  Alpha males jostle each other to remove bags jammed into the overheads. Then we weave our bags down the narrow path to the airport mall in a slow procession.  Yes, the terminals are now a shopping opportunity.

Once in the airport’s common area, my enlightened mind spotted many others heading to their gates with far too much “carry-ons.  This problem may not get worse, but it also may not end.  Too many folks are playing the system and avoiding extra fees and making their problem a shared one.

I don’t blame anyone for avoiding baggage fees.  When traveling in the USA, I haven’t checked a bag in over a decade.  Even when it was free. 

The obvious answer to this problem is for all travelers to follow the baggage guildlines.  Another is to get more lean when packing.  I toured Italy for two weeks with a small carry-on plus a handheld bag.


Core principle: pack for three days:

  1. one outfit for plane travel (bulky clothes: jeans with jackets)
  2. two dressy shirts and pants
  3. four sets of shirts, pants, t-shirts, socks and underwear.  I select clothing I should probably throw away.
  4. one belt
  5. one pair of shoes for men and two pairs for women
  6. ditty bag for toiletries
  7. any electronic gear you really need
  8. a wafer thin poncho or compact umbrella

All this, plus the items only you will need, should fit in an average sized carry-on bag plus one handheld bag.  It helps to study how to pack well. 

This list is not complete.  It presents the core principle: don’t pack for more than three days. 

After three days, clean the dirty clothes at a laundromat or take them to a by-the-pound cleaner – early morning drop off gets same day service.  Then repeat every three days.

When at three days to go, I discard the clothes worn each day.  I’m making room for gifts, etc and thinning my wardrobe.

Traveling light frees us up to better enjoy flying.  Give it a try.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.