Don’t Let the Baggage Get you Down

Make Mine a Guinness… photo copyright JCS 2005

Just returned from a press trip to Ireland and France, seeing the sights by train and ferry.

Whirlwind tour doesn’t even begin to describe this experience, but in travel writing you also learn some necessary tid bits about schlepping your schlock all over a continent.

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty good packer and I’m low maintenance when it comes to necessary baggage – but as we continued our trek across Europe with bags in tow, the press materials we were given, souvenirs, and the overall stank quotient of my dirty clothes were weighing me down. It’s one thing to lug a suitcase from the airport to the hotel and back again, quite another to bring it to an airport, a ferry port, and about a dozen rail stations in two countries in 8 days. I have bruises on my legs from my satchel banging into me as I ran to catch trains, blisters from the handle of my bulging suitcase, and, interestingly, a surprisingly over-developed left bicep all of a sudden.

So here are some tips for the intrepid traveler in all of us. Mind you, I packed light but it wasn’t light enough. So next time around:

  • Screw the ‘outfit options’ mentality. Bring one well-fitting shirt in four colors and two pairs of jeans and one pair of dress pants. Make ’em last.
  • Listen to your mother. Mine told me to roll my clothes into tight balls to conserve space but did I listen? Well, I took the advice as brochures, CDs and DVDs from press representatives began to multiply where my undies were supposed to go. By the end of the trip I had mastered the art of creating a Button-down Burrito.
  • When your co-workers ask you to bring them home a “bottle of wine from Provence because it’s cheap there and they love it and just one is fine!” Politely remind them that just because you can’t ship alcohol to Massachusetts you shouldn’t ask your friends to be pack mules.
  • Canvas bags with shoulder straps from H&M break. Bring a back pack.
  • You basically have to strip naked at the airport to get through security these days. Skip the belt, put the watch in your carry-on, take off all of your rings and stuff beforehand, and my God, WEAR SOCKS. You have to walk through the metal detector barefoot and in Dublin, there’s no carpeting, folks. Just nasty, nasty linoleum. Also, if you wear contacts, put your glasses on instead. Everyone looks like crap on an airplane, so who cares? My pants were falling off and I was workin’ the orphan annie look yesterday, but I was as comfy as I could be in coach and I got through security without a beep. Which always makes me wonder why my belly-button ring never sets it off…

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