Category Archives: Travel: managing luggage

The Mystery of the Vanishing Clothes

It was a dark and rainy night when our two travelers land in Budapest. Their flight had been delayed out of Charles De Gaul (nothing new there), the luggage missed the connecting  flight (it was off stalking conveyor belts) and hunger was gnawing unmercifully at their tummies (that bad airplane food suddenly seemed doable).

Sometime past the witching hour, the disheveled travelers reach their hotel.  All she wants is a Diet Coke and a hot bath. Ah, to her disappointment, she will have neither.  Giving up on any civilized accouterments, the travelers collapse into bed and sleep until the morning sun pushes open their eyelids. Time to explore!

They walk and look and do and shop. Ah, they shop. OK. She shops; he pays. She makes calculated purchases. He gives her that disgusted “not more stuff” look. He knows the luggage is of the extra small variety and will never accommodate more stuff.  But, our lady traveler is unmoved because she knows the secret of the vanishing clothes.

Flashback to packing day:  We see her bag splayed open on the bed. She carefully selects each gently worn item.  She folds a pair of khakis, pressed but definitely past its prime. Next, a faded black t-shirt is snuggled against the inside suitcase rail. A jacket with some fraying around the collar is zipped and pressed into place.

A pair of shoes is resting at the edge of the bed. In contrast to the clothes, they appear almost new. No scuffs or scrapes and plenty of tread on the soles.

She knows the secret:
•    Good shoes are critical
•    Clothes are disposable

Flash-forward to our travelers in Budapest: Our lady traveler is exploring this new territory. Maybe she will find a great top or the perfect pair of pants. With each discovery, she will retire an item.  The old will be recycled. Let’s call this…progressive attrition. Thus, the bulk in the suitcase never changes.

The rule is simple:  Something IN requires something OUT.

Smart gals know the joys of vanishing clothes:

•    Don’t buy new before the trip
•    Pack the old
•    Discover a new treasure in a new place
•    Buy
•    Recycle the old

Now you know who dunnit in the Mystery of the Vanishing Clothes.  It’s you!  Go Gals!



Filed under Travel: managing luggage, Uncategorized

Throw out the Stanley Steamer, please!

Dear Gals,

Crossing oceans is no longer calculated in weeks, but in hours. We know this. Then, why is it when the conveyor begins regurgitating our luggage, the size of the bags looks like we’ve run away from home forever?  These bags could easily stow away two small children.

Toss the big bag.  You may think you need 5 pairs of shoes, 2 sweaters, 2 coats and enough face cream to open your own Este Lauder counter. But, it is so not true.

Let’s begin with Why Not.

Simply, it takes your time and it drains your energy.  Your travel goal is to arrive back home exhausted with a bag full of dirty, smelly clothes in tow.  If there is one thing in that bag that is still in pristine condition, you have failed the baggage exam. If it has only been worn once, you’ve barely made a passing grade.

Let’s talk Time:  monster bags are your master. They take more of your time than a four year old. Never, never, never count on assistance. As Cher would say…it’s all you, babe.  OK, that’s not exactly what she sang, but close enough. That bag is in your constant care for fear it rolls away, gets abducted, falls and hurts itself or just behaves in an unruly manner. Why put up with it when it doesn’t deserve your TLC?  The morning after you lug this behemoth up the stairs of the train station, your back will convince you the error of your ways.

Bag Rule 1:  If it doesn’t fit in the overhead, it doesn’t get to come out and play.

Let’s talk energy:  you are not strong enough. Regardless of time in the gym, you cannot slay the Bag Monster. That cabbie won’t dump it into the trunk for you. Public transportation is insurmountable. The weather won’t cooperate when your slugging down the boulevard. Bottom line…that baby ain’t worth it. By the time you arrive at the hotel, all you want to do is crash. Big Bag, counter-productive.

Bag Rule 2:  If you can’t lift it, toss it.

Bag size:  if it qualifies as an overhead, buy it.

I hear that scream. Yes, there really is enough room in that tinny-tiny space for everything you need.

Packing essentials:

  • 1 pair of walking shoes
  • 2 pair of dark, washable pants (no jeans – I’ll explain in the next post)
  • 2 tops (washable is your friend)
  • 1 wrap or coat (depends on weather)
  • make-up or creams
  • underwear
  • 2 pair of socks
  • curling iron if applicable
  • electronic devices will go in your carry-on (a separate post)

Beware the Christmas Spirit!  Every Christmas around the 22nd of December, I become infected with the Christmas Spirit. This is where I decide I haven’t bought enough kitsch for the family. I run out to the nearest mall and begin passing around my credit cards to my favorite merchant friends like licorice candy. This is a contagious disease and often infects us just before the closing-of-the-bag ceremony. We think: “what if I need those red spiked sling pumps?” And, in the bag they go on top of another sweater, pants, purse…..  Soon the bag won’t close, we find a larger one and we’re a goner.  The monster is ours to raise, feed and educate for the duration of our journey.

The cure is to throw out the Bag Monsters. Donate them to your neighbor’s next garage sale. Put them on the curb. Visit your local Salvation Army. Think of Bag Monsters as Belgium chocolates. Out of reach, no pounds on hips.  If you don’t have it, you don’t pack it.

Pack lite!

Pack Often!

Go Gals!


Filed under Travel: managing luggage