For most of us the ability to travel by air is a treat and a blessing. We’re not required to do so for high-powered careers or trans-continental love affairs. We’re usually heading out on vacation and already in a good frame of mind.
Oh, sure we get ticked off by the high ticket prices, the appalling food, the intrusiveness of the security check-in, the dinky little seats with no leg room, the long waits, the sometimes snarky employees, the unbending policies, the creative reasons for additional charges that feel like extortion. But, hey other than that, it’s all good.
Until we find another way to move long distances quickly, we’re stuck with flying. What really drives me is the whole packing fiasco. It’s hard enough to pack for a car trip. Add in the constraints of luggage size and weight, cash penalties for overweight suitcases, and all the security-based rules. Cue all the hidden camera footage of baggage handlers punting our valuables around.
So aside from all the rules we need to follow and all the advice we’ve gotten about smart packing, one of the hardest things is deciding what to pack. I dragged a medium-sized hard body suitcase up a couple of weeks before an upcoming trip thinking time and thought would help me make the right choices.
Here’s the deal. In late September I needed to pack for a Ukrainian wedding in Gatineau. That means either an embroidered blouse and strings of red beads or a simple black lace dress with shawl, jewelry, and heels. We also had plans to tour the House of Commons in Ottawa courtesy of MP Shannon Stubbs’ office. That probably requires business casual. In addition, we’re indulging in a thermal cycle spa treatment in Ottawa that features an outdoor regime of ‘hot-cold-relax.’ So make room in the suitcase for a bathing suit, cover up, robe, flip-flops, toque, and reading material.
A check of the seven-day forecast shows a heat wave is giving way to more seasonal temperatures. Does that mean a couple nice sweaters or a lightweight coat? Do I wear runners or something a bit nicer for the miles tourists typically make? What about jewelry? Are the outfit pieces interchangeable? Would a scarf or two be nice?
Despite Googling it, I still don’t know the current rules about electronics. Are cell phones and e-readers allowed in the cabin on domestic flights? In checked luggage or carry-ons? I need to make room in my carry-on for my CPAP machine. It’s far too sensitive for the aforementioned treatment by baggage handlers.
Conventional wisdom says wear the bulkiest clothing, roll the rest of the items, stick with a basic colour palette, choose versatile pieces, accessorize for variety. And for the love of God, don’t over pack. Easier said than done. I’ve got my miniature toiletry items in a plastic bag, the bigger ones in the checked bag, and my fingers crossed that I haven’t missed anything or screwed up. Other than that, all is good from where I sit.