Monday, February 15, 2010

Carrying On

In November 2008, I wrote here about packing for Paris and elsewhere, using my old Kenneth Cole rolling suitcase:
So I am not one of those people you see in check-in lines pulling suitcases large enough to fit a stowaway. I have standards, even if I fail to meet them. I use a 24", non-expandable suitcase, which is just barely over the limit for carry-ons. I've been stuffing it for years for any jaunt short of a 3-week trip (I borrowed a portion of my husband's 27" suitcase for that.)
 For future flights, I resolved:
My next suitcase may be a wee bit bigger, or at least expandable — and it's going to be a spinner. Two extra wheels make all the difference, especially in airports where you can glide them along with two fingers. My husband has a featherweight Heys spinner that I covet, although at 26" it seems too big for me. I'd try to pack my bed pillows with that much space.
I went hunting for that spinner over the weekend and came home with an adorable amethyst/mauve version of my husband's 26" spinner, from Marshall's.

Heys also makes a 30" model, big enough for a petite stowaway. Their bags come in loads of colors, including silver and gold, but we figured a girly color is more conspicuous/less likely to get stolen.

I don't really mind the gamble of checking my suitcase, even if it's officially a carry-on. My husband always has to check his, so we're wasting time at the baggage carousel anyway. I hate heaving my suitcase into a jammed, overhead compartment or having it under my feet during a transatlantic flight. So no matter what size bag I have, I check it. I bring a folding, carry-on Longchamp tote on the plane instead, filled with food and other comforts for the flight, plus some essentials in case my suitcase is lost for a day or two. When we are reunited with our luggage, I pack all that stuff into my rolling suitcase so I'm traveling with one bag again.

While there are other brands and styles, these Heys suitcases are extremely light compared to the others, and I think those few pounds make a difference to my back. They are also very expandable, don't have a lot of annoying and space-wasting inner compartments, and their wheels seem excellent. I thought 26" was much too big, but my husband emphatically disagreed. He's often had to deal with my suitcase as well as his own, when I need a break, or it has to be lifted onto a train, etc., so I respect his opinion. And the next-smallest size of this style is just 20", including the wheels. It looks like toy. So I caved. We lugged the new suitcase home, I printed out my packing list, and then I gathered up my boots, clothes, and other gear to see how it fit into the bag.

It filled exactly half the bag. The other side was empty! I could have filled it with another coat, a bed pillow, and a willing cat or two. But I'm not going to. When we are taking the RER trains and trekking up and down those insanely long staircases in the Metro, I know I will be very grateful to have a smaller suitcase. So I'm going shopping again. Maybe I'll see if the "toy" size is more expandable than it looks. Maybe I'll find a 22" spinner that suits my purposes. But I'm not going to be one of those foolish travelers lugging an enormous, over-packed suitcase thither and yon. Been there. Felt stupid.

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