Saturday, November 10, 2007

How to Pack for a European Tour

Don't forget the American flag T-shirt and cargo shorts! Actually I've been stressing out a bit over the packing process for this upcoming jaunt. I haven't checked a bag for a flight in about 5 or 6 years; not only am I a bit concerned about lost baggage (which, if your bag contains your CDs and your, um, light saber, could be catastrophic) but also the trouble of waiting around while your bag eventually shows up at baggage claim, not to mention traipsing around Europe on subways and whatever, you don't want a humongo suitcase. So, I'm just taking the carry-on roller bag.

I spent some money on a Victorinox Parliament rolling carryon bag this year before I had about 5 big trips right in a row. It was almost $400, but it was back in my days of being slightly more flush. I bought this size because it seemed like it would fit my big CD book, my 17" laptop, and some random junk pretty well, and looked to be pretty sturdy. It made it through a couple trips alright, but two months ago on a trip to LA, the pull-out handle completely disintegrated in my hand just as I was getting off the plane at LAX. It was honestly like a cartoon, with little bits and geegaws flying off of it, and a "ba-doiiinng" noise, followed by the "waaap, waaa" sound of disappointment. The handle was just gone, there was nothing connecting the two extend-o-poles, which now ended in sharp busted crap, making pulling the thing impossible, and of course these rolling bags are a bit heavy. Needless to say I was perturbed, having to cart it around all weekend. Now, because of the warranty (and me yelling at Edwards Luggage) they quickly repaired the thing, but I have to admit I am pretty nervous taking it on this trip: if it breaks again, I'm throwing it in the Danube and buying a $20 duffel bag.

This guy over at is a strong advocate of the non-rolling bag, and I was seriously tempted. I don't love strolling along with my bag bouncing on the pavement behind me like a stewardess, and with my long legs (and wide stance) I'm always banging my heel into the thing and knocking it sideways. But my crap is heavy, with the laptop and everything, and I just don't want to develop the shoulder bruises I used to get from my shoulder bag.

So, I'm taking it, and then a little Dickies shoulder bag for the CD book actually, that was my compromise so I have room for a couple more pairs of underpants. I wanted to replace my ancient Technics record bag that's falling apart, but I've been looking for a new one of those for a year and can't find one anywhere. Help?

What to pack is entirely another matter. There wasn't room for much even in the roller: about 5 T-shirts, 6 or 7 pairs of underpants, some socks, 3 more serious shirts. That's basically it, for almost one month of European galivanting, and it's gonna be kind of cold, and buying anything new will cost me a zillion dollars (see Euro posting below). So who knows how it'll work out. I'm only taking the pants I'm wearing on the plane, too -- that'll probably set some kind of record.

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