Never enough bags?
After 40 years of marriage and always traveling together, you would think Mary Ann and I had things pretty well worked out. Au Contraire! We seem to have had a four decade dialogue about what luggage is necessary for any particular trip. The conversation begins in earnest as the suitcases come out for packing. Needless to say, I have never won the argument. I have come to the conclusion that our luggage and packing philosophies are exact opposites. Here are the basic positions:
Mary Ann’s Philosophy: She has never seen a suitcase she didn’t like, or in other words, the continuing quest for the perfect travel bag.
Tom’s Philosophy: Who would ever need more than a lightweight backpack to carry the three t-shirts, two pairs of khaki pants, underwear, extra pair of shoes, and six cigars? Of course, this traveler is a person of excellent taste, style, and looks like an ugly American at Disneyland.
As this saga has continued through the years, I think it has resulted in the purchase of at least 50 suitcases. Every relative in our family has at least one discarded set of our old (meaning we bought new) suitcases. In addition, if you are a traveler you really do want to attend our yard sales, as luggage is always available. As a new bag arrives my question is always “Do we need that bag?”
In our travel the basic complement is at least three bags:
• The Carry-On Bag – Must fit under the seat in front of you (no easy task with airline seats that are shrinking) and also serve as a footstool for a certain short legged woman.
• The Husband’s Bag – Must be capable of holding everything the male needs, plus space for six pairs of women’s shoes.
• The Wife’s Bag – A bag bigger than the husband’s bag because she will need at least two changes of clothes for each day of traveling. This is complicated, because most often the wife I know best can’t make up her mind about which outfits she will want to wear, so the possibilities multiply far beyond the 2 X travel day basic formula.
All fun aside I do have some basic true advice about luggage:
- Do try to pack only what you really need (remember your back problem!). Most travelers, including Mary Ann and I, always take too much.
- Remember you have only two hands to lift and pull luggage.
- Every bag you have must be on wheels and have a pull bar.
- If the bag isn’t light before you pack it, it sure won’t be light after you put all that stuff in it!
- Remember when you are a frugal traveler you may have to lift all those bags up four stories of the European pension that has no elevator.
As I think back about all those suitcases, my only wish is that I had bought stock in Samsonite in 1963!
The Rest of the Story by Mary Ann Warren
(I must be a saint to live with that man!)
First of all you, must understand the first part of this article was written by a man who has never packed his own suitcase, nor has he ever traveled with only three tee shirts, two pairs of Khaki pants, underwear, and an extra pair of shoes. He does, however, always pack at least one cigar for each day of the trip.
He is also wrong in saying I have never seen a suitcase I didn’t like. The problem is that I am indeed in search of the perfect bag and have yet to find it. This, however, does not stop me from trying and I have learned a lot of things about luggage in this search.
• Cheap is not always good. When I have purchased inexpensive luggage that looks perfect, it always comes apart on the first trip. The zippers seem to be the first thing to go, and that can be embarrassing if the suitcase comes open as you pick it up in the airport.
• The larger the better is really not a good idea. I admit as I have gotten a little older I find a nice mid-sized bag much easier to move around. Of course this does mean you have to cut down on what you take, but not by much.
• I do love the person who invented wheels for luggage. One reason for new bags is that the design of the wheels keeps getting better and the luggage is easier to pull.
• Another favorite, which I always carry, are plastic bags of all sizes. You can buy large vacuum bags for sweaters, which when you push the air out will compress the clothes to a quarter the space and they still look great when you arrive. Also, zip lock bags can be used for everything from candy to bottles that might break.
• Always carry extra folding bags in your suitcase when traveling. They are great for coming home with extra bottles of wine or gifts for the family, and are a whole lot easier to use as extra carry-on bags than paper shopping bags.
Please remember while the Judge is honorable, and very honest, his view of luggage is a bit tainted by back pain.
© Thomas C. Warren & Mary Ann Warren 2011 (Published in the summer 2004 ABA Judicial Record and the winter 2006 Senior Lawyer, the newsletter of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division.)