Monday, November 2, 2009

Traveling Without Checking Luggage

When I travel, I don’t like to be burdened with heavy luggage. I don’t like to wait in the line to check in luggage. I don’t like to wait around for an hour or more to claim my luggage after the flight. And I don’t want to risk my essentials being lost or broken by the luggage machinery. And it’s fun to see the faces of people who work at the airport when I tell them, “All I need is in my backpack.”

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is, “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” I think so many people check luggage because it takes less time to fill a suitcase than to figure out what is really necessary for a trip.

I’ve had many decades to figure this out. First, I need to know how many days the trip will last. If it’s one week or less, I don’t need to do laundry. My bookbag will hold 7 days of underwear, socks, and t-shirts. Pants or skirts are good for 2 or 3 days each. Wear one and pack two.

If the trip will be 8 days or more, I only pack 4 days worth of clothing, but I do pack an extra pair of shoes. I also pack a laundry ball (not soap) so I won’t have to rinse, when I wash clothing in the sink. Here’s one such product.

All my clothing has to audition for the special privilege of being packed. How quickly will it dry? My t-shirts, pants, and skirts are all made of quick-drying material. My bras have no padding or wires. My underpants are thin cotton. I do NOT recommend quick-dry underwear. Since people ask, some of my favorite travel clothing websites are, eddiebauer, llbean, travelsmith, landsend, sportsmansguide, championusa, and eBay.

The TSA has taken the guesswork out of how much bathroom stuff to pack. Nothing over 3 ounces or 100 ml. No more than will fit into a 1 quart ziplock baggie. I bought some refillable plastic 2 ounce bottles. Mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide (in case my ears itch), comfrey oil to put on wounds, hand lotion.

I refuse to pay for those travel sized toothpaste tubes. I found soap chips with xylitol formulated for toothbrushing. I like the orange flavor. One or two chips are enough for a good scrub, and no, it does not taste like getting your mouth washed out with soap. And it doesn’t count as a liquid.

The same stores that sell tooth soap also sell bar shampoo. Thus neither shampoo nor tooth wash count as liquids.

I also pack my hairbrush, toothbrush, floss, tongue scraper, and comb, a compartmental box with pills. Vitamins, psyllium, aloe vera, magnesium, homeopathic remedies, a few herbs that I might want, and salt packets. My Neti Pot (From – if you get one please mention you heard from so you will get a 5% discount and my friends at will get a 5% commission.)

There’s still room for my camera, cell phone, cell phone charger, a small book, a small notebook, and a pair of balls for some of my exercises.

And this does not fill my backpack. I still have room to pack small gifts for people I’ll be visiting, a few magic tricks to amuse grandchildren or cranky children at airports, and some snack bars in case the flight is delayed. The whole thing weighs less than 8 pounds.

If I need more than this, there are stores where I travel.

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