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The Checked Bag Manifesto (or, why I won’t leave home without the comforts of home)

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congogirl inspired me to consolidate my thoughts on why I invariably end up checking a bag on my travels.

1. 90% of the time I travel for work, which always means more stuff – laptop and accessories, documents, etc. (When MoBob and I went to California for my 20th high school reunion I went with one carry-on. At the same time we went to Target at our destination and bought sunscreen which we had to discard on the way back.) Also I bring reading materials since a lot of travel time is just waiting.
a. Corollary: Often I have to dress professionally, including accessories like tights and nice shoes.
b. Corollary: On some trips I have multiple events (like the meeting in Brazil and then project site visits in Nicaragua and Honduras) where I wear sandals at one event and sturdy shoes and socks for another.
c. Corollary: I think it’s really disrespectful when foreigners dress shabbily overseas.
d. Corollary: my current position includes trips to Brussels and Lyon in the fall and winter.
e. Corollary: I resist wearing "middle-age lady consultant" clothes like Chico's Travelers or J.Jill's Wearever.

2. If I need something, I don’t want to spend the time or the money to find it in a place I don’t know. As I mentioned earlier, during my last trip to Lyon I was in the office until 6:30 or 7pm, only to find that most places close at 7pm.
a. Corollary: since I travel mainly to developing countries, most of what I’m interested in is more expensive because it’s imported. Or something very esoteric, like the my portable mosquito net.
b. Corollary: if I’m sick the last thing I want to do is try to find the one all night pharmacy and then not be sure if it’s the right meds, or try to explain what I need in a foreign language.
c. Corollary: if I want a post-it or a vitamin, I want find it right next to me.
d. Corollary: I’d rather spend my money on a nice meal and my time actually seeing some of my destination, than trying to find something that I could’ve packed with me.

3. I have bulky underwear.

4. Laundry facilities are either expensive, non-existent, or slow. Or I’d rather go out then spend my evening washing clothes. Hence multiple sets of said bulky underwear. (I won’t reveal who on my f-list returned to the US wearing a bikini bottom.)

5. People always ask me to bring stuff for them, like maple syrup and horseshoes, and, memorably, a scooter. (And I’m always happy to oblige as I’ve asked the same favors myself.)

6. I always bring a lot of stuff back, mainly work-related – yes, it is cheaper for me to lug back rolls of “danger – landmines” tape.

7. I’m not fond of dealing with a carry-on if I have to go to the loo or want to look at something in a gift shop.

8. I’ve never lost my baggage so far and the only times it’s come late is when the destination is the US, surprisingly. I always have extra undies and travel-size toiletries in my backpack which I carry on – and my bathing suit!

9. Some items I just can’t downsize – I bring along my regular journal instead of a separate smaller one, and my travel set of scriptures are still a little heavy.

10. I’m a homebody at heart.
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On March 24th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
How about shipping?
My brother- and sister-in-law just went to Turkey for a mountain bike race. They traveled with 4 checked bags and her bike-in-a-box. Clothes for 10 days, essential tools, and of course her-bike-without-which-the-trip-fails. With 2 airlines, 4 flights, and 3 tight connections (London, Frankfurt, Istanbul) it was inevitable that a) they'd miss a flight and b) something wouldn't arrive when they did. I asked Ron before their trip if he'd considered shipping their stuff ahead of time to their hotel in Antalya, Turkey. He said a few people who've done this sort of thing had recommended that, and that UPS is pretty reliable, but that he just hadn't thought of it in time.

I have never traveled overseas but in the last few years have heard from too many people who have had luggage issues, and with us carrying two children along as well... I think I would consider shipping stuff ahead of time if I could afford it. For US travel, I think we'll always just take carry-on, and shop at a Target/Sears/Penneys for essentials once we arrive. I just hate waiting for my bags at the airport!

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On March 25th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
All together now: "Poor Mohamed."
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On March 27th, 2008 10:22 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
Well, *that* never showed up on Tofu Notes!
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On March 25th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC), congogirl commented:
I understand all the points you make. For work, there is no question most of the time. But for vacation - ever since going to Turkey with a backpack, I am a fan of this option. We bought souvenirs, but had them shipped back to Istanbul, where I bought a suitcase for $20 to take back on the plane. In the mean time, I didn't have much to keep track of.
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On March 27th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC), ticklethepear replied:
I think I just need to take more vacations - unfortunately for more exotic locations fun time piggy-packed onto work trips.
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