Monday, November 2, 2009

Bagless-Lady - did it work?

The question had been: could Joel and I spend five weeks traveling out of two carry-on-sized roller bags and two Baggallini totes while visiting two distinctly different places: Greek Islands (sandals, shorts and tee-shirts) and Paris, home to haute-fashionistas?

The answer is - YES! But not everything worked as planned, so for those of you head-shakers, here's the skinny:

Our plan was to carry our bags on to the planes, as one was the size of a large purse and the other a cabin-size-approved bag. For that reason we took no toiletries that couldn't fit in that miniscule quart-sized baggie, planning to buy what we needed once we arruved. The plan worked for our British Air flight and was resoundingly dashed by easyJet, the low-cost European airline. They make their money on the extra charges so one bag - of whatever size- means one bag. So we paid to check the roller bags 16L each ($26US) going and 22E ($33US) on our return.

We ended up still buying the toothpaste, mouth-washing and toiletries that we could have brought from home. First, lesson learned: plan on checking bags.

Our wardrobes, while not having the variety of the home closet, were more than adequate. We each took one pair of shoes (to wear in Paris) and a pair of Clark's ( unstructured black walking sandals for Greece. They are by far the most comfortable shoes we have worn on our travels and my pedometer tells me we walked more than 100 miles while gone. Mine are un.hull ($100, weighing only 6 ounces) and Joel's un.mast ($120- weight 9 ounces). Two downsides: my feet are now suntanned in zebra stripes, but now back in the Pacific Northwest, no one sees them. We were also prevented from taking some of the wonderful hikes in Greece as these two styles didn't quite have the tread to tackle the trails. Next time we will pack hiking sandals as well.

I could have taken fewer tee-shirts and a second pair of shorts. But not having the shorts led to one of our funnier shopping experiences at a farmer's market in Crete. We each decided to buy a pair of unisex (hiking style) shorts for 5E ($7.50US) a pair. The little old lady selling them had me try mine on over my clothes in the middle of the pedestrian walkway (blocking traffic ) and insisted the large that hung to my knees fit perfectly. I ended up purchasing a smaller size!

My Paris wardrobe was black - everyone it seems wears black with a scarf. I had two scarves - more than enough for five days. I was approached by a lady who asked a question of me in French and seemed surprised to learn I spoke English - my wardrobing must have worked. My Paris outfits came from Chico's ( Zenergy line. I found it to be lighter weight than their Travelers and also dried much faster. I had two pair of pants, a lightweight jacket and a heavier rain-coat (worn in the photo). All took up so little space in the suitcase that I am sold on them for all travel now.

The Baggallini ( bags we took were my small Around Town ($74.95, 8" tall, 11"wide and 4" deep, 14 ounces) which fit nicely into the larger Only Bag ($69.95, 10"x 15.5"x 7.5", 20 ounces) The smaller bag fit into the zippered center section and our Acer Aspire One netbook (2.7 pounds)slipped easily into one of the outside pockets that snapped to close. Baggallini was founded in 1995 by two fomer flight attendants. Their products have served me so well that I may never use a conventional purse again at home or while traveling.

I've noted weights on this entry because the reality of European travel is that you are going to be carrying your bags into tight places such as metro cars, airport shuttle buses, over uneven sidewalks, and often times up and down stairways. Metro stations are always interesting with usually a modern escalator going up or down and stairs going the opposite direction. I counted 60 steps, spread over three flights of stairs, at the metro station in Athens near our hotel. Train and Metro stops are often quick and marked with crushes of people jostling each other to get off and get on. Fellow passengers are not sympathetic of tourists attempting to haul huge bags into the cars.
I am now thinking about 'next time' and ways we can further save weight and space. I'll let you know when come up with the next plan.

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