A Smaller Suitcase

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A Smaller Suitcase

 “I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new.”Jules Verne

I have a few enviable skills but packing is not one of them. No suitcase in the world is fit to contain the multitude of useless junk I consider bringing on even the shortest trips. I am ready for any “what if” and “you never know” scenario. I’m a high maintenance traveler. with a big suitcase.

When Phileas Fogg decided to circle the globe in Around The World In Eighty Days, the 1873 novel by Jules Verne, he did not take a suitcase. “We’ll have no trunks,” he said to his servant. “only a carpet bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way.”

It’s a good thing Phileas Fogg didn’t take a trunk, because dragging one from steamship to railroad to carriage to hot air balloon would have ruined his rapid pace.

My next trip is through France and Germany  and like Phileas Fogg dragging my big suitcase is definitely going to ruin my pace, 

 The European rail system is a great alternative to booking flights across Europe. Travel by rail is far more flexible, with the ability to hop on and off, on a whim, with  no advance booking. The ability to arrive twenty minutes (or less) before departure time, and avoid a security line makes traveling easier.

Carrying my own big luggage on a train makes it harder. In 1873 large luggage was handled by porters but in today’s world it is necessary for a person to carry their own baggage.

I  need a smaller suitcase.to carry the basics. I have to learn to separate the want from the need. It involves a morning and evening routine with less products, vitamins and workout gear. It means more washing and less clothes. Experience has shown me that I always bring too much. Maybe I can start with less and  buy what I need  along the way like Phileas did. I’m only going for a month not eighty days. It shouldn’t be too hard and yet,  I’m still taking more luggage than a carpet bag.

Fly safe

JAZ

  

Traveler’s Block

Traveler’s Block

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski

Today I have nothing.

I have written about packing and not packing, carry on luggage, check in luggage, travel clothes, travel companions,  souvenirs, my bracelet collection, my Starbucks collection, my good luck charms, LA – where I live, Manhattan and Brooklyn where I am from, places I love, places I hate, my mother, my dog, people who have died, animals that have been killed, airports, airplanes, stewardesses, airport security, things I’ve learned from traveling and not traveling, hotel rooms and things Ive left behind in them, travel addiction, people who think they are black, superstitions, proverbs and quotes from around the world, movies, books, children’s books and songs that have inspired me to travel, food, restaurants, turkey burgers, acting like a tourist, not acting like a tourist, tourist traps, tourist attractions, holidays, traveling alone,eating alone, random photos, being a godmother, travel etiquette, third world countries, countries that have changed names, countries not to travel to, misspelled countries, auto-correct, photography, art, urban art, music, world affairs terrorists and should you blame your parents if you are one,  philosophy, spirituality, religion, prejudice, meditation, things to say and not say to a world traveler, places I haven’t been to, bucket lists, top ten everything, travel problems, imaginary places, movie locations, trip planning, weddings, World Cup, Olympics, first world problems, blogging, Nellie Bly, touching strangers, things i like, things I dislike, the 100th monkey, coffee, sunrises, how to avoid the paparazzi, travel tv shows and people in the world.

I don’t know why they call it writer’s block. I have idea block. I could start reblogging pieces, post other writers, post more instagram photos, read more books and think about writing. I could hope that this is only a temporary setback, go out and do something and then write about it – like move to Spain, go to a wedding in Africa or perhaps the new Broad Museum in LA.

Fly safe,
JAZ

The Perfect Packer

“ Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just enough baggage. “

Charles Dudley Warner

The Perfect Packer

I am always on the lookout for the perfect suitcase.  I am convinced if I find the perfect suitcase, I will become the perfect packer.   The perfect suitcase weighs nothing and fits everything.  Every time a new suitcase comes out, I try it in the hopes that it will be ”The One”.   I am a regular at Savinar Luggage  ( savinar luggage.com).  As my salesman’s  son becomes more and more successful as a comedian,  I acquire more and more luggage.   One year I treated myself to the fancy Rimowa luggage one sees all over Europe.  I bought my kids some cheaper duffle bags.   The duffle bags worked much better for me than the suitcase. I ended up borrowing theirs and eventually getting my own.    You shop and you learn.

I am a crammer. You can cram much more into a duffle bag than a hard suitcase.. If you need more room,  use the outside compartment for dirty underwear,  dirty socks and souvenir brochures.  Most airline personal will not be interested in stealing that (except for some reason in Moscow  –where they even took my luggage tags)  .

The perfect packing bags for crammers and over packers are called space bags by Flight 001 (flight001.com).  I think they are designed for carry on luggage. You put as much as you can pack on one side of the bag and  sit on it to get the air out. Then you can pack more. Technically you put your dirty laundry on the other side – or  you can pack more stuff in them (like I do). It is  brilliant and much more organized in the duffle.  I am a big believer in packing accessories.

I don’t like to wash things out on vacation, which is why I bring so many clothes.  In St. Petersburg,  I decided to have the hotel wash a shirt for me.  The cleaning bill cost as much as  the shirt. I believe the shirt was Prada.   I went back to overpacking.

The rule of thumb with airline travel is, the more things I need to bring, the less weight the airline I am flying allows me to carry. Those small planes between cities or countries wreck havoc with my packing plans. Remember the old days when you could bring 75 pounds?  If you were over , you just paid a small fee. Today you better hope your children are the right weight to fit on the plane.

I bring a fold up extra bag for shopping. I  have to pull  it out at my first destination to put in half my stuff to meet the luggage requirement on a smaller plane.   I always say that I am not going to do it again .  It is hard to juggle two bags with the lack of airline help or porters- a word that is rapidly becoming extinct.

The airlines are basically telling us, don’t travel if you cant carry your own  suitcase.  We wont help you.  It has  finally come to this.  I watched a stewardess tell a ninety year old woman if she couldn’t put her bag in the overhead compartment, she shouldn’t be carrying it.  (Stewardesses and women fliers are another blog)

I see these people with their carry on luggage for two weeks. I look at them in awe.  I wonder if I am looking at some kind of packing genius. Do they never wash their clothes and don’t care? Do they wash everyday and pack their clothes wet to the next destination? Do they own that perfect article of clothing that works for all occasions and is never soiled or wrinkled? I always want to open up their suitcases to see what I have brought that they considered unnecessary.

A good tip  to know  is that you can always make up the extra weight in your carry on bag.   Mine is always way too heavy for me.  You only have to have your luggage not arrive a few times, or get bumped off a plane in Brussels wearing white furry after ski boots in the spring,   to know that you better have everything you might need with  you.   I always travel as if I am going to Cuba or Burma and will not be able to buy anything  I need ever.

I just heard about this new suitcase. It is not a hard suitcase and it is not a duffle. It is something in between.   I think it could be the perfect suitcase.    I will  let you know.

Fly safe,

JAZ