The Saratoga Sun -

I've got baggage


I recently took a trip for Christmas vacation. Doing so, I had to pack a bag.

Over the years I have determined that there are five separate and distinct stages in the life of a piece of luggage during the travel process.

Since I try desperately not to ever check a bag, this piece will deal with the carry on bag I usually take.

Since airlines have begun to charge for regular size carry on luggage now, for this last flight I bought a piece of luggage that is at the max size limit of “personal items” allowed.

This will all probably change again shortly so be prepared to eventually wear 8 shirts and three pairs of pants to the airport.

In the meantime …

Stage 1: Nice and Neat

Barring a last-minute emergency, you have most likely been looking forward to your trip for a while now. You have given some thought to what you want to wear (am I slumming it or do I want to impress?), what the climate demands (do I need a swimsuit or a parka?) and what peripherals you need (toothbrush, anti-smell or plus-smell stuff, hair dryer and the like).

Some of you have even thought about how many outfits you can make from as few clothes and accessories as possible.

With airlines nearly charging for you to bring on wallets anymore it is important to get as much quality packing as you can into as small a space as possible.

So there you are in front of your bag. You’ve run your mental checklist (or maybe even a written one). Personally, I just look at myself from the feet up.

Shoes? Wear the big ones. pack the smaller ones. It works out nice if your bigger shoes are slip-ons so you get through the “do I really have to take my shoes off?” thing at the airport more easily.

Socks? Stuff into shoes.

Pants? These are fairly bulky to pack so you need to ask yourself several questions: How long am I staying staying? How many of those days can I reasonably wear one pair of jeans? Do I need shorts? and is there is a washer/dryer machine handy? Once you have answered these questions, you can place your leg coverings in the bag.

Underwear? I’ll leave your undergarment preferences up to you. A lot of times these can also be stuffed into shoes though.

Shirts? These usually pack smaller so you can bring a few. Tees can roll up. Dress shirts you need to fold. If you are bringing a sweater or a bulky top, wear it on your travel day.

Sundries? Any more it is just easier to buy a toothbrush/toothpaste where you are going. If you have a small bottle of cologne/perfume those can be wedged in easily–don’t even think about carrying a normal size bottle through airport security. Hairdryer? Too bulky and your family and most hotels have one. Medicines? Remember anything liquid-y needs to go in a quart-size ziplock so you can take it out and show it to the nice security drones. Last time, I left all that crap in my bag and no one said a word (twice).

Important note: If you are going somewhere for Christmas or somewhere you might pick up souvenirs or new apparel, DO NOT fill the bag completely. You will be bringing back more than you took.

So there you stand, looking down at you nice, neatly-packed bag. Do you have a self-satisfied smirk on your face? At this point, I do.

Stage 2: A little ruffled

Hopefully you have arrived at your destination and haven’t had to unpack/repack your bag at airport security.

Some people unpack and hang things up. I just live out of my bag and pull things out as needed.

For me, this means I have a bag with nice folded stuff and a pile of worn things next to it. Don’t judge.

Stage 3:

Complete bedlam

Now you’ve been there for a while. You have worn as many combos as possible and have a forlorn and empty bag.

I have a pile of clothes.

Time to think about doing laundry or beginning the “sniff/how wrinkled is it” tests.

If you do laundry, you might fold and pack some of the clothes … or not. However it works for you is fine.

Stage 4: Packing it in

It’s time to go. You now have more than you started with and it is time to begin the fabric puzzle anew.

It is also at this point you will have to determine what you are going to leave behind.

This, in itself, is a jarring process since you have most likely enjoyed collecting some shiny new things—but select you must.

The other thing you can do is mail some of the excess to yourself—and I have done that too.

So you’ve got what you need. Back to the packing ...

Whether your clothes are clean or not it is time to start folding. Cramming is just not space efficient.

Usually this is all done in a panic at the very last minute.

But you fold and arrange and finally get it done.

Then you try to close your bag.

The zipper doesn’t want to make the circuit because your luggage is filled to over capacity.

I push it down. I try to force it —but finally I end up sitting on the bag and manage to get the thing shut.

I worry that if airport security tries to get me to open the bag, it will explode like Porky Pig’s trunk in the famous Warner Brothers cartoon.

Note: “Explode” is one of those words you don’t even want to think while at the airport.

Stage 5: Delayed


Some people come home and immediately unpack their bag. There are also some pretty sick people in the world.

Personally, I don’t even crack my bag open the first night I’m back unless there is something I need out.

Eventually I start taking items out as I would like to use them. That shirt? Get it out of the bag. Socks? There are some clean ones in there too.

For me, this might go on for weeks after a trip.

Eventually though the bag is mostly emptied (minus the travel size deodorant, packaged travel toothbrush and toothpaste and other travel-only items), and is tossed atop my various real-sized and old carry on luggage to await the next trip.

I hope some of this has been helpful to you–I just thought I would share some of my baggage.


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