Jun 21, 2011

Le Baggage

It's the season of global traveling again. Summer - endless days of sunshine and 10pm sunsets and not worrying about turning up late for work the following day - c'est la vie!
I don't call myself a frequent traveler but over all these years traveling alone and with companion, I observed several types of people and how they pack their baggage. They say a woman's handbag reflects her personality - same thing goes for the big bag too.

  1. The tour-Europe-with-one-shirt-and-sandles type - think you're a light traveler? They redefined the word "light" by washing their one and only multipurpose (usually thin cotton and light-colored) shirt while in the shower, hang it to dry and sleep naked. Their most precious commodity is probably cash or credit card - buy anything you need when you're there. My female friend Fang Yu stunned me when she complained I had too much baggage during our Shanghai trip. I bet the airlines love these people because they have no checked baggage and only a palm-sized carry-on.
  2. The typical backpacker - they procrastinate more when it comes to packing, but they like carrying everything on their backs (snails...) - they say it's easier when you have to run away from, say, a rhino. However, when you need to look for a specific item from the "shell", you have to turn everything inside out. And I doubt the weight is any good for petit Asian ladies all wanting to be Lin Chi Ling. You can spot these people hogging the queues at airline check-ins by spreading out their entire belongings looking for their passports, and occupy everybody else's overhead bins with them shells.
  3. The lite-business packer - t'is George Clooney in Up In The Air. Something formal and several mix-and-matches but NEVER a checked baggage. It's hard not to love these people but in the event you're stuck in Timbuktu and needs an aspirin or amoxicillin, you might have to wait till the supply boat arrives next month.
  4. The heavy-business packer - at least 2 pair of shoes - running and leather; at least 3 sets of ties - blue, red, grey; at least 2 decent shirts - white and light blue. All these adds up to a considerable bulk during check-in. Although they don't usually hit the weight ceiling, waiting for the carousel is indeed very time-consuming. Thaasophobic (fear of boredom) people like me usually pack 2 to 3 books during long-trips, too. Though the weight a burden, it killed hours while queuing up for the Shanghai Expo and all the way back to Kuala Lumpur in an IFE-less flight.
  5. The new Papa - these are considerate family guys who would pack the extra magazines for the wife, the Tigger stuffed toy for the baby, and even bring you souvenirs when they're back. They would be hovering around the weight limit but check-in ladies usually melt when seeing a guy with toddler on holiday. Parents with toddlers get to sit at bulkhead too!
  6. The Mama - when the airlines say 20kgs, they read 25.9. They have everything ready, just in case - extra blankets, instant noodles, rice-cooker (I'm not exaggerating), honey-lemon-ginger, tub of detergent - just in case. They also tend to be extra cautious with money, keeping them separately in 10 different compartments but forgetting 7 after they arrive. When traveling with them, spare the labor and take a taxi instead. Lugging their room all across cobblestoned Roman streets is never an idea of a holiday.
Good packing skills and foresight will ensure not only a smooth trip but also save you bucks. For example, get your basic drugs like painkillers and vitamin C in Malaysia (where it is really cheap) before leaving for, say, Europe, where everything needs a prescription. A handy water bottle will save you a lot buying bottled water, and is better for the environment too.
Finally, always remember the less you carry, the less carbon footprint you leave behind. Aircrafts need fuel to fly you and your luggage. Even though an extra 5kgs seemed trivial compared to a 150-tonne 747, if everybody travel light, fuel savings can be significant. After all, who needs the DSLR or notebook while on holiday? Give yourself a break and leave them behind!