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« We bid Farewell to the Great Haiku | Main | Listen To Our Interview With Madeleine Brand! »

I Need Fen-Phen for My Suitcase

Up until now I've been going on general hearsay and outdated notions regarding baggage allowances for overseas flights. Up to now I've squeezed my eyes tightly shut, pressed my hands over my ears and sung, "La-la-la-la, I don't want to know the truth..." I know, I know -- travel light. Everyone from Rick Steves to the grocery store bagger has been telling us this. But hey, we're going for a freakin' year!

I finally mustered up the nerve to go the the Swiss Airlines website today, to get the scoop on the luggage restrictions. Wow! We're screwed. I think our suitcases weigh more than the total weight allowance -- empty. Here it is: one suitcase and one carry on per person. I'll spare you the math, but the total weight of everything we can take -- checked bags, carry ons, family of four -- is 246 pounds. That's 61.5 pounds per Redpath human. It may sound like a lot to you, but it's frightening to me. My lunch weighed more than that today (Brenna made lasagna last night!)

In recent years we've traveled mostly by minivan. If we thought we might want to take the crockpot or entire World Book Encyclopedia set with us, what the hell, pile it in the back. Now we have cameras, tripods, computers, hard drives, microphones, and Brenna's shoes to take with us! The good news is, we can pay a "little" extra if we go over the allowance. $20 per pound extra! We're planning on a "practice packing" session soon, but now we'll have to add a bag weigh-in to the protocol. I'm thinking about making everyone wear six or eight layers of clothing and maybe stuffing shoes and toiletries in our pockets. I even considered hiding a five pound tripod in my pants, but then I had a "Spinal Tap" nightmare and thought better of it.

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Reader Comments (6)

Nice reference!

Apr 8, 2009 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterYo Lama

So, I think I mentioned a couple months ago that I have a book you might like (just to read, you can give it back after) called The Packing Book. It shows you how to pack everything you need for a month in your carry-on, leaving your larger suitcase available for all those electronics. A little OCD for some, it is an easy read and the worst that will happen is that you will have one of those "I feel so superior to this poor hack who is trying to make a living telling other folks how to pack their suitcases!" moments.

If you're even remotely curious, I can deliver this paperback to your doorstep. Mind you, this book is pre-9/11, when you got two carry-ons; however the same principles apply. You can skip straight to Chapter 7 "Active Travel & Adventure" with a checklist for men and women's wardrobes and a little secton on travelling in Europe. I would also check out Chapter 4 "The Carry-On Wardrobe" and Chapter 5 "How to Pack Your Suitcase."

Brenna probably thinks I'm joking. This whole trip is about thinking about life differently, so why not start with your luggage?

Perhaps Judith Gilford (the author) has a more updated version available...

P.S. I knew veggies have great mineral content, but a metallic cucumber...?

Apr 9, 2009 at 7:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Hi you guys, Yep. My son and his family of four just left for England, yesterday. The baggage limit can be even stricter on the cheaper local airlines, like 50 lbs. The flights look cheap, but then they tack on extras, like for a seat!

Think about shipping some stuff to your friends. Be sure that the mail is safe. I know it is to England, but Eastern Europe? Ask. Don't forget Frances wants to see you when you get to London!

Funny video!

Let us know how it goes. We want to see a video of the practice packing session.

Apr 9, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterCatt

Have a look into shipping your stuff via air freight on your same (or a separate) flight. When I moved to France I had a palet of stuff, all shrinkwrapped, delivered to France by air freight, which I had to drop off and pick up and the airport on each side. Much cheaper than flying with it as baggage!

Apr 16, 2009 at 1:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

PS: Once you're in Europe, no weight limits for train travel!

Apr 16, 2009 at 1:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeather Stimmler-Hall

If you know where you're going to stay the first month, you might just want to post a lot of your stuff beforehand to your friends. I did that when I moved to Korea. Of course when I finally moved home, I had stripped my belongings down to the bare basics....clothes, books, and CDs. :)

Apr 24, 2009 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterKate

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