Trial Pack

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 cavernous 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!

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