Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Traveling Light

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, August 2008

Yesterday's workout: spinning (45 minutes)

Today and tomorrow I'm getting ready to travel - will be in Pennsylvania Friday to Monday. I feel a travel-related rant coming on. Prepare yourself. Deep breath. Here we go.

Why why why do people bring so much frickin' luggage when they travel? One of my favorite things about traveling, whether for vacation, visiting people, or even business, is that it's a chance to get away from "stuff", to just have with me what I need. For many years, I have traveled with only a carry-on bag, no checked luggage. Even for my wedding/honeymoon, which was a 2 week trip to Europe including a week of sailing and visits to 2 cities. (I packed my wedding dress in a giant ziploc bag!) Every time I go to the airport, I see people struggling with giant wheely bags, duffles, piles of stuff around them. If you're going mountaineering, or you're moving abroad for a year, I can understand checking a large bag. But most of these people overburdened with luggage are going on a week's vacation!

There are so many advantages to traveling light. Not checking a bag means no lost luggage and no airline fees, you can get around easier at your destination, you're organized and know where things are, you can be more flexible in your travel, and you have less to manage and think about. It's also safer because you can pay attention to what's around you in addition to what's with you. Overburdened, distracted travelers make easy targets. There is way more about the benefits of traveling light here. Check it out.

When I travel, I bring a small internal frame backpack. It's sturdy, was fairly inexpensive (around $80), has a customizable fit and distributes weight very comfortably (because it's made for hiking), and keeps my stuff on my back and my hands free. It's small enough to function as a carry-on, but I can fit everything I need in there. I do usually have a second small bag (laptop bag or small tote bag) that I throw extras in - ID and money, knitting, a book, my ipod, a snack, my laptop if it's a business trip. My easiest trips, however, have been when I used only the backpack because it means my hands are free. I recently got a teeny tiny laptop (an EEE PC), so I hope I can ditch the second bag more often now, even on business trips.

My bag is the one on the right. (The surrounding mess is for scale.)

Traveling light is freeing. It makes travel much less stressful and more of an adventure. And you'll sigh with relief when you see the other travelers perched on their piles of giant bags looking frazzled.

For knitters looking for portable projects, my favorite is socks. (DPNs sometimes scare people because they look so sharp and pointy, but I use wooden ones which seem to be less threatening than the metal ones.) I've also heard lace is good because it squishes down small.

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