Because there are 2 Kinds of Luggage: Lost and Carry-On
Few things can ruin your timeshare vacation faster than losing your luggage. And as a recent U.S. Transportation department report finds, losing your suitcase is not a rare occurrence. In fact, the odds are greater than 1 in 200 that your bag will be lost or misdirected on any given flight. And that percentage increases on international flights.
The solution? Carry-on for your condo & timeshare trip.
The Advantages of Carry-On Luggage
Doug Dyment, called "the go-light guru" by Time Magazine, cites three reasons on his site www.onebag.com for taking only carry-on luggage: 1) security; 2) mobility; and 3) economy. The episode with my husband illustrates the benefits of the first reason. The benefits of the mobility advantage are many.
o You can bypass long lines at the counter (getting your boarding ticket from either a kiosk or presenting an e-boarding pass) and proceed directly to security, which means you don’t need to arrive as early to the airport as passengers who check their luggage.
o Missed connections become less of a hassle because your luggage is with you at all times.
o Once arriving at your destination, you leave quickly while others spend another 45 minutes (or more) in baggage claim.
And while Doug’s economical advantages include money otherwise pocketed by porters, as well as savings resulting from renting a smaller car (or going with public transportation rather than taxis), taking only carry-on also gives you a greater savings opportunity. It allows you to easily volunteer to be bumped from a flight (translation: free ticket for next year’s timeshare week!) without the worry of having your luggage traveling on before you and waiting unclaimed at your destination.
Plus, traveling light just seems to create good "vacation karma". Without being bogged down by multiple bags you simply have a more relaxed attitude. And after all, isn’t that why you bought the timeshare in the first place?
"Sure", you’re thinking, "the advantages of taking carry-on are compelling. But how can I possibly fit everything I want to take in one 14W" x 22L" x 9H" suitcase?" It’s easy, once you change your thinking from "everything I want to take" to "everything I need to take." And here’s how.
Step 1: Go Light.
Most people pack for the worst case scenario, or for events that aren’t likely to happen.
"In case it gets cold I’ll bring a sweatshirt."
"In case it rains, I’ll bring a raincoat."
"In case we decide to go out to a fancy restaurant, I’ll bring one nice outfit (which also requires a nice—and another—pair of shoes).
"In case I want to drink my coffee out on the deck reading the paper in the morning, I’ll bring my robe."
These all fall into the "want" to bring category. Our focus here is on the "need" to bring items. And that starts with the basics.
Underwear. Bring enough for four days. After that, your condo unit will likely have a washer/dryer on hand. Do a load of laundry. You’re going to a timeshare, not the Australian outback. So use them.
Socks. Bring enough for 3 days (we’ll tell you how to pack them in Step 2).
Bathing Suit. Just bring one. It’s okay (and preferred even) if women bring a 2-piece tankini.
Sleepwear. We already got rid of the robe above (many timeshare units have them for you in the closet anyway). And you can forget the PJs too. A long t-shirt works fine. Plus it doubles nicely as a cover-up when going to the pool or beach.
Ensembles for day and evening wear. This is the bulk of your clothing. Learning how to pear it down is the key to your success. Take these following tips from seasoned timeshare travelers and you’ll have room to spare in your bag (well, at least you’ll be able to get it closed).
o Select plain clothes that mix and match to get a variety of outfits with just a few pieces of clothing.
o Dress in layers for warmth rather than bringing bulky sweaters, sweatshirts or heavy jackets (if you need a coat, wear it on the plane).
o Choose dark colors (great for hiding stains and wrinkles) and accessorize with scarves, ties, or jewelry—these don’t take up a lot of room in your carry-on and give your wardrobe a dash of pizzazz.
Outerwear. If you must have a raincoat, wear it on the plane. Otherwise, pack a nylon zip-up hooded jacket and you’re covered.
Want some more tips? Here you go: different colored tank tops with a neutral colored cardigan give you lots of different looks. Zip-off pants offer great versatility in climates that go from hot days to cool in evenings. And a word about shoes: limit yourself to two pairs—a dress pair and one for casual activities. Pack your light pair, and wear the heavier ones.
Step 2: Pack It Right
You have a three-fold goal in packing your carry-on: reduce space, reduce wrinkles, and offer easy access.
This last goal is often overlooked, but what good is having all your stuff with you if you have to dishevel it all (spilling your underwear all over the floor) to retrieve your MP3 player? Pack It Light, Pack It Right subscribes to the yin-yang principle of packing: everything at your side and any one thing at your fingertips.
But let’s begin with ironing out those wrinkles (without using an iron). Simply roll clothes instead of folding them before you pack. In addition to eliminating the wrinkles, this technique allows you to save space by tucking rolled up clothes into every corner of your carry-on.
Now to help with organization, try the zip-lock-and-sit method (it’s also great for eliminating wrinkles and saving space). Fold (not roll) a few articles and put them in a 2-1/2 gallon zip-loc bag. Put the bag on the chair, sit on the bag to push out the excess air, and zip it up. Viola! You have a neat, compressed pouch, that in addition to keeping your clothes wrinkle-free, offers a neat way to organize your carry-on for instant access to just about anything you need.
Shoes, Jewelry, Toiletries, Oh My!
A good technique with shoes is to roll socks around the pair so that the heels do not "dig in" to your other clothes. Also, it’s always a good idea to put shoes in a shoe bag, which will help keep the rest of your clothes clean.
For medications and jewelry, try film canisters, which can be inserted into your shoes before wrapping the socks around. Using see-through canisters makes it easy to tell what each one holds. Otherwise, put tape around the canister and label its contents.
For toiletries, simply use another zip-lock bag. This protects your clothes in the event of a leaky bottle. Speaking of toiletries, there is a great site (www.minimus.biz) dedicated to travel sizes for laundry products and personal care items.
This amazing little site also offers timeshare travelers a great alternative to buying huge bottles of mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, hot sauce, etc. (which you end up throwing out at the end of your week). Here you’ll find all your favorite condiments in individualized-sized serving packages. So stock up, put them in a zip-lock, and you’re good to go!
Need More Room? You Got It.
Okay, because you’ve gotten this far into the article, you must be a bit optimistic about getting by with a carry-on. But if you’re still not sure it’s for you, here’s the clincher.
In addition to your one 14"W x 22"L x 9"H carry-on bag (which are the dimensions for United—U.S. Airways gives you more room with 16"W x 24"L x 10"H) you are also allowed to carry on a personal item.
This personal item is defined as a purse, briefcase, laptop, camera case, small backpack, or... DIAPER BAG, the holy grail of the carry-on set! I mean it—have you seen the sizes of diaper bags lately? And all those cute little Velcro™ and zipper compartments!
Even if you don’t have a baby, you’ve got to get a diaper bag. However, there is a catch—the personal item cannot exceed total overall dimensions of 36 inches, and both items (your carry-on and personal item) cannot exceed a total combined weight of 40 pounds (U.S. Airway’s language).
But, no worries! With synthetic fabrics and your zip-lock-and-sit method you can fit another week’s worth of clothing in that diaper bag (or a backpack if you are adverse to diaper bags). And you’ll still have room to throw in your purse, while reserving ample space for carting home souvenirs.
So here’s the drill: stow the carry-on in the overhead and throw the diaper bag under the seat in front of you. Just make sure you don’t get a bulkhead seat, because then you won’t have a seat in front of you to throw your diaper bag under.
Step 3: Be Realistic
Love to Carry-On, But Just Can’t? Let’s be honest. If you are traveling with children or are carrying a bunch of presents , the carry-on idea probably is not going to work for you. After all, it’s more important to arrive with all of your kids than all of your bags. So go ahead, check the baggage. And carry on the kids.
When you do check baggage, here’s a helpful tip that can go a long way (literally) in keeping your bags from getting lost: know the three-letter code of your destination airport (LAX, JFK, LHR, etc) and verify that it’s the one on your luggage tag before your bags are whisked away.
Here’s why: gate agent error is the most common cause of mis-routed bags.
Bottom line? Traveling is stressful enough. Don’t let a lost bag ruin your entire timeshare trip – pack light & pack right!
About The Author
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