Diamond-Cut Life

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The Wages Of Packing Lightly

September 9th, 2012 by Alison · 2 Comments · global warming and climate change, money, transportation

Le Palais des Congres in Montreal: convention center, fountain and public square

Le Palais des Congres in Montreal:
convention center, fountain, and public square

Leaving for our Montreal vacation in a week! We’re looking forward to using its excellent transit system and bike lanes to get around (we’re not even renting a car; I love beating the system like that). But this post is about getting to Montreal, specifically, how much stuff we’ll be traveling with, at what cost.Air Canada (like most airlines) charges $25 for the first checked bag, and $35 for a second checked bag. Initially I’d thought that Thor and I would share a single checked bag, besides our two carry-ons apiece, incurring $50 in baggage charges round trip. But yesterday while practice-packing (compulsive? not me!) I’ve come to a happy realization. If I wear my bulkiest items, i.e. my boots and jacket, onto the plane, all the other clothes I need for a week actually do fit into my carry-on bag. And my purse, journal and laptop (can’t leave home without those) all go in my second carry-on.

Which creates a slim, svelte packing profile — in sharp contrast to our trip years ago to Ireland. I don’t want to talk about all the baggage we took on that trip; it’s too embarrassing. I’ll point out, though, our excess- baggage debacle happened long before the airlines started charging extra for checked aggage. I see the charges as a healthy price-signal; every additional pound really does take more fossil fuels to transport. The airlines are giving us an ongoing reality-check in this respect.

Now it’s just up to my husband to get all his things into his two carry-ons so that we can earn the $50 wages of packing lightly. My simplicity-loving, diamond-cut heart just loves this business of people being financially rewarded for paring down our stuff. Stuff is so burdensome, especially when traveling. I think that Thor is on board, not about to be bested by me in this endeavor. He has chided me for overpacking in the past, even termed me “a bit of a clothes horse” – to which my response was Unclothing This Horse. Moreover, he’s a man, which means, I gather, DNA that disdains much interest in clothes. Last month I told him, as nicely as I could, that the baggy old shorts he wears around the house  don’t flatter him. He just smiled. It’s hard for me to imagine being happy to wear clothes that are aggressively unflattering to you. But I digress.  

What we are being sure to bring:

  •   Sandwiches, fruit and chips for breakfast and lunch (this will save another $30 or so, plus raise our nutrition levels  over dreaded airline food)
  •   Good books to read on the plane (Wild in hardback for me, really psyched to start this; Thor is bringing his Kindle)
  •   Exercise shoes and clothes (we’ll be renting some bicycles, plus I go running wherever I find myself)

What I’m not bringing:

  • Curling iron
  • Rain gear (good weather is likely)
  • My beloved French press for coffee (this city is French, for heaven’s sake)
  • Numerous changes of clothes. Just a few are fine. I’m really not a clothes horse.

Just think: bringing that last set of items in a fifth bag would cost my household $50, plus make us more burdened and less nimble. We’re going to use part of the $50 saved to buy carbon offsets. Climate change (global warming) is real, and flying contributes to it. 

Time to post this and go to church (unlike many fellow Oregonians, I love church). Thor is even coming with  me this time - - wonderful. I just hope he won’t be wearing those ding-dang, baggy old shorts. 

photo courtesy of caribb

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Jen

    I love the freedom of packing light. When I went to Perú for six weeks I could have actually made it with just my carry on. I did check a bag though because it was full of books and supplies to donate to a school. My favorite packing light trick is….wool. I love the super fine merino wool that is made into beautiful t-shirts, leggings, even underwear! Yes, I made it for six weeks with just two pairs of underwear! I bought two long sleeve and two short sleeve shirts for my trip and the best thing is the wool doesn’t get stinky the way cotton things do. I could just wash them in my sink which honestly become a lovely ritual. I brought a skirt a pair of cords and one pair of jeans and I was totally set. Too bad that can’t be my uniform for work!

    • Alison

      Jen, I love your story — both the way you honed your possessions down to a few well-chosen items you truly needed, and the fact that your travels in Peru had such a heartful, giving purpose. And about the underwear: I’m very impressed by just two pairs. I’ve often wanted to post about how easy it is to hand-wash one’s underwear, roll it in a towel to absorb moisture, and then hang it overnight to put it on, dry and clean, in the morning. But I never have — I guess I’m afraid of getting stereotped as the lady who writes about her underwear! At any rate, I love your comment, your non-materialism, and the light, joyful way you move around in the world.

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