Tip #2 Packing Lightly – Luggage

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Grand Canyon, 2008

As you begin to think about packing for your trip, many decisions will be made for you according to your mode of transportation. You can take as much as you want in a car and fill every little crevice if you so desire. I used to do it that way. However, trains and planes require you to think more carefully about what you need and want to take with you.

Trains such as Amtrak usually allow a lot more luggage to travel with you without extra charge than air travel does. Depending on where you are going on a train and what kind of accommodations you reserve, you can take varying amounts of baggage. If you are staying in a bedroom car, you can take just what you need for overnight with you to your room and store the rest of the suitcases on the lower floor of your car. You will still have easy access to these  larger items as you proceed on your travel, but they won’t be taking up space in your cabin. You still have to be able to handle all of that luggage once you arrive at your destination.

If flying to your destination, you will need to think about the following questions: Do I want to check luggage (be sure you know how much that will cost for your airline)? Can I get what I need in two small bags that will fit carry-on restrictions?

Remember, if you are flying, that you might be solely responsible for carrying or rolling everything you take with you from one end of an airport to another. Yes, there may be “red caps” that can help. However, you might be in a rush and have trouble finding someone to help you. There are large luggage racks you can pile everything on and roll around, but this is a lot to manage if you have several pieces of luggage. Also consider how you will manage all of that luggage after you arrive at your destination.

IMG_5746My suggestion, and how I try to travel on plane or train, is to stick to carry-on size luggage pieces. Most airlines today are moving to a 21” bag instead of the more spacious 22” of recent years for the largest carry-on size allowed. This measurement includes handles and wheels. You are usually also allowed a second piece that can be the size of a tote bag or briefcase. I use a canvas briefcase which can hold an unbelievable amount of “stuff” but will still fit under the airplane seat in front of me. (This is a requirement for the second piece on most airlines.) When I take my 22” piece (I have it, why not use it), I plan on checking it. This is if I travel on a flight that allows one free checked piece of luggage. If I carried on a 21” piece, I would be responsible for lifting that full suitcase into the overhead bins. That is quite a feat for a short old woman.

Remember that luggage can get lost. Because of this, ALWAYS carry on the plane with you a complete outfit of clothing and all medications and things you will absolutely need and can’t afford to lose. In my briefcase, I take a complete change of clothing, all my electronics and charging cords, medication, snacks, and reservation papers and documents. ( I keep a second copy of all paperwork in the checked suitcase as well. I also email myself a copy of all reservations and paperwork so I can always find a copy on my computer. Call me paranoid, but I have seen too many people lose their documents and have no copies.)

Every piece of luggage should have your name, home address, and destination both inside and outside of the luggage if you are flying. I make a two-sided paper to slip into the name tag. One side tells information leaving home and I flip it when I am ready to head back home with the different destination.  If luggage is lost, this is very helpful in getting it delivered to you.








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