(+) Essential Things I Never Travel Without – Part #2

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

As I explained in Part #1 of this article (still available at http://eogn.com/wp/?p=43332), I have become a fanatic on lightweight packing. I travel often and have too much “history” of dragging heavy luggage through airports as well as in and out of shuttle buses, taxis, hotel lobbies, through the snow or other inclement weather. As I get older, the muscles start to deteriorate as well. I used to carry a 50-pound suitcase without difficulty. I don’t ever want to do that again!

Even worse is the finances. U.S. airlines are now gouging their customers for every dollar they can get away with. US-based airlines collected over $4.1 billion in checked bag fees in 2016. (Reference: https://thepointsguy.com/2017/05/airline-baggage-fees-2016/) Yes, that’s “billions” with a “B.” Who paid these billions of dollars? Hapless travelers who didn’t know how to travel light.

Of course, that’s not the only price gouging that is going on. Now the passengers have to pay for food on the plane and it usually is nearly inedible food at that. Some airlines want to charge to put a single bag in the overhead bins. Then these same airlines advertise “the friendly skies” and other crap so that we have the “privilege” of being being packed in like sardines with shoulders overlapping. “Never have so many paid so much for so little.”

An Australian man is now suing American Airlines, alleging that he suffered serious injuries after being seated next to two passengers he claims were “grossly obese.” (See http://fxn.ws/2qMFMM1 for the sad details.) I’m not surprised that a passenger was injured simply by being seated between two “fatties.” Have you seen how little available space there is in those seats?

Then there is United Airlines, advertising themselves as “fly the friendly skies.” That “friendly sky” airline forcibly ejected a passenger from his paid-for seat, breaking his nose in the process. Friendly skies?

Surprisingly, stories like this rarely appear about foreign airlines. The American-flagged airlines seem to have most of the problems.

In the past two weeks, I have taken two trips on American Airlines, one of the losers. I got bumped on one flight and another flight was delayed because American Airlines had an undefined “maintenance problem” that reportedly made it unsafe to fly. Apparently, American Airlines is having difficulty keeping their airplanes in good repair.

American Airlines is one of my “last choices.” It was a trip planned only a week in advance. I only decided to fly on American after discovering that Southwest Airlines had no seats available. (Southwest allows two… count ’em, TWO checked bags at no extra charge.) So Southwest was fully booked and yet the American Airlines planes I flew on had empty seats even during my flights.

Which is the better business decision? Gouge your customers with high prices for everything and fly with empty (non-revenue-producing) seats caused by unhappy customers who avoid your airline whenever possible? Or to charge lower prices and have every seat filled with revenue-producing, satisfied customers who will return again and again for repeat business?

I’ll leave that to senior airline executives to perform the price modeling on those two options.

I think it is time for consumers to stand up and make airlines affordable and comfortable again! I do my part by avoiding the price gougers, whenever possible, and by taking my business to the airlines that treat me the best.

Of course, packing light is a win-win situation. You win once with lower fees when flying on the price gougers and you win a second time with extra convenience on ALL the airlines: no more wrestling with lots of heavy luggage!

I have created a check list of things for me to pack or not to pack. It serves strictly as a check list of POSSIBLE things to pack. I never pack everything on the list. The exact selections will vary depending upon the expected weather at my destination(s), the expected activities when I get there, and sometimes by the length of the stay.

I will say that I recently completed a 11-day trip through four countries with different climates. Early April in Iceland meant ice and snow on the ground and a snowstorm on the day I left while the next week in England was balmy. I made the trip with two carry-on bags: one maximum-sized carry-on bag went in the airliners’ overhead bins and a small bag went under the seat in front of me. I never checked any luggage. I also received a bit of assistance from hotel laundry services along the way.

A ten-day trip should never include ten changes of clothing! Laundry services are available worldwide. While expensive, these laundry services are usually cheaper than paying for additional luggage. Washing clothes in a bathroom sink is even cheaper.

Always wear layers on the plane as it is often chilly or hot with no way to predict in advance. Besides, the more layers you wear on the plane, the fewer items you have to pack in the luggage!

Your check list of possible items to pack undoubtedly will be different from mine. After all, it is YOUR list. Your needs and preferences will be yours and yours alone. However, I will offer the following list and comments as items for your consideration.


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