Oct 3, 2010
In the airport these days, you see people lugging these monster suitcases behind them. Big enough to have contained the Hiroshima atomic bomb. With room for a hair dryer and cosmetics bag.
I have never believed in traveling that way and even as I prepared for a possible year abroad, I remained focused on keeping my “stuff” to a minimum. To encourage this, I would limit my luggage to a backpack and a small, Softside Samsonite suitcase (try quickly saying that four times). Initially I feared it would be like packing sardines into cans, yet it was far less a challenge than I expected.
To begin with, there was of course no need for any cold weather clothing. Just stuff seven t-shirts, six pairs of socks and some underwear into the backpack. This left the shoes, two pairs of shorts and a pair of jeans for the suitcase. (More than traveling light, I was going to be living light.) As for the toiletries, medicines and important papers, they could be crammed into the side compartments of the suitcase. No problem at all.
But a critical test remained. Since the suitcase lacked wheels, would I be able to carry it, the backpack, and an ancient (1998) Compaq PC without getting a hernia? To find out, I packed everything up, fitted myself into the straps of the now-fat backpack, slung the PC pouch over my shoulder and lifted the suitcase. Glancing in the mirror, I resembled one of those Apollo astronauts skipping about on the surface of the moon, encased in their bulky suits. But I had to deal with earth’s gravity.
My hotel (The Mediterranean Inn), has a charming sun deck on top with lovely views of the city, Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. It’s a nice place to sit and let one’s thoughts wander and I decided to use this for my endurance test. After climbing two flights of stairs, I made myself march back and forth in front of the empty lawn chairs for about ten minutes. This was by no means some macho exhibition; I wanted to make sure that after I’d gotten off the plane in Bangkok I’d have the stamina to haul all my travel gear through immigration, across the cav-ernous Suvarnabhumi Airport, then out to a waiting taxi, at which point I could collapse in the back seat.
When the ten minutes were up and I was still standing, I returned to my room, happily shed my baggage, and collapsed on the bed.
Mission accomplished. It pays to be thorough!