Traveling light

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.

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