Following on from last week, when I talked about how many toiletries people travel with, I had a very frustrating week with fellow passengers and their luggage .
At Melbourne airport, a family of five were checking in, in front of me. They had fifteen bags - for a vacation. They had a huge argument with the check in staff about their baggage allowance. They were claiming the first class luggage allowance whilst travelling in Economy. The check in clerk was not giving it to them despite their posturing and yelling. The end result of a lot of wasted time, was a re pack and a decision to leave some stuff behind and to carry some on as hand luggage. On the same day a group of guys had to repack their suitcases before they checked in. This means we all got to see their underwear. A fact I tweeted about as I lost some patience.
My feeling is extra baggage is expensive, stressful and results in a lot of carrying and schlepping. I do not check anything in because it is faster at check in- no luggage means a check in at home and straight to the gate (time saved 15-60mins). I fly about 110 times a year- time saved is between 27 and 60 hours per year!). It is also faster at the other end. Bags can take 10 to 90 minutes to reappear at the other end. I am already at my hotel by the time some people are hauling their luggage off the carousel. My other reasons for only having check in:
- its less likely to be lost- lost luggage can take 2 hours to 2 weeks to get back to you
- I dont every have to worry about check in fees or higher fares that include bags
I travel with two bags. One is on wheels and is designed to be checked if I have to. My bigger bag usually meets the size requirements of most airlines. It is 51cm (20″) x 33cm (12″) x 21cm (8″). The other bag is officially my “personal item” (in this case a computer bag). It clips to the handle of the first bag for easier carrying.
I aim for each bag to weigh under eight kilos (17 pounds) before I leave my house. Why eight kilos/17 pounds? Most airlines in the world have a limit on their carry on luggage. For some its as little as 5kg and for some its as much as 10kg. For most it is 7kg (15lbs) . I figure that If I am only just over, they will probably let me through. In the USA I have yet to meet an airline that has checked the weight of hand luggage!
Some practical tips
- Take less Clothes we don’t need everything we want to take. Pack and then reduce by half the number of clothes you have packed.
- Choose clothes that will all combine. eg for men, make sure your ties and shirts will all work together. Taking 3 shirts and 3 ties creates 9 combinations.
- Plan to wash. I aim for a weekly wash. I either wash in a hotel/motel with laundry facilites or find a laundrette or plan to stay with family or friends at certain times! Use your washing time to write postcards, update blogs or read.
- Take quick drying underwear, socks and t shirts that are sold at camping stores. You can hand wash them in a sink, leave them to dry and most times they dry overnight. They are not cheap or very fashionable but result in a lot less conventional underwear required
- Buy clothes as you travel. When I travel to the USA or an Asian country, I reduce my clothes dramatically and buy stuff as I need it.
- Take fewer shoes. One walking, one dress up and one sports is enough.
- Wear bulky stuff on the plane- I have boarded Melbourne airport in full summer wearing a jumper (sweater/jersey) and a winter coat heading to Minnesota which is in full winter. My gloves and scarves were in the coat pockets
- Reduce your electrical items-I use my phone as my alarm clock, camera, and watch. Ditch the electric toothbrush and razor. Reduce power cords. I have one multiple electrical adapter that works in every country. DVDS can play on a computer
- Buy less souvenirs/smaller gifts When buying souvenirs, think: do i really need this? I now let me luggage dictate what I buy. Too heavy? Then I forget it or get it sent
- Ship stuff home -with the dropping of seamail, this has become expensive but can be useful
- Buy books second hand at discount bookstores. I read them on the flight/train and then at the other end I donate the book or sell it at another bookstore or leave it for someone to find (bookcrossing.com).
- if you are buying duty free, see if you can buy it on your trip home so you dont have to carry it for you. Best method is to have it waiting at your home airport for you.