That brings me to a recurring event for us:
It starts with packing here. Everything we bring, we need to take back (barring gifts). So, to leave space, we need to pack as light as possible. This is especially hard for me, having been raised on the notion that you need to bring at least 14 pieces of underwear, spare pants for your spare pants, spare sweaters for the spare sweaters, JUST IN CASE! (And no holes, obviously; you might get into an accident.) But we've learned to make do. Nowadays, the friendly TSA officer who opens our suitcase for a security check is greeted by anothter suitcase. That's right: when we pack our suitcase, we pack our suitcase. In this inner suitcase we store all our goods for the trip. This means that once we are in Flagstaff, we have a whole empty suitcase to fill!
Naturally, we could also just check an empty suitcase; it's free on international flights. But this seems more convenient. And the inter-island flights on Hawaii did charge us per suitcase, so that saved us $50 right there.
But then again, we can't fill a suitcase willy-nilly. If you fill it with books, you are essentially carrying a pulped slab of wood with you and you will be way over the weight limitations. So, you have to spread things out evenly. Fortunately, Beedoo!'s mom gave us a handy luggage weighing device that has seen a lot of use as we scrape out the last ounces of storage space.
Sadly, some things are just too heavy to bring home in one go in our suitcases. Fortunately, for these we have a handy alternative: carry-on! Oh, the things you can get away with cramming them into your carry-on luggage. Obviously liquids are right out - security risk! - as are nail clippers, but other than that, anything goes. I have walked through customs with a water purification filter in my back pack. And frankly, it seems downright impossible to stuff a backpack to the point where it's too heavy to keep as carryon - though it certainly won't feel like it! Oof!
But hey, you can also bring a second small carry-on, like a laptop or a purse. Do you know how much you can stuff in a purse? Not a lot, but it's space nontheless. And that coat I wear? It has lots and lots of pockets. Perfect for underwear and socks. Once, I walked an entire set of fridge magnets through the X-Ray machine.
And you know what the really disturbing thing is about all this? It never once fazed the security personel. Oh sure, that time when I let Beedoo! go through security while I quickly went to buy some pringles while I could, now that was a puzzle that I had to work hard to explain (am I so bad a boyfriend / husband? Should I not have abandoned my grown-up partner?). But underwear in your pockets, filtration devices in your backpack, even an empty suitcase, no questions asked, ever. I can therefore only conclude that they see far, far worse than what we have been doing. And that is something to think about, isn't it?
I am a master when it comes to packing. I roll-pack everything, except for denim, because that takes up too much room when rolled. I can effectively pack a week and a half's worth of clothes in half of the space of our smaller suitcase. (And by a week and a half, I mean wearing no shirt twice.) Usually it's not space that plagues us, but weight... and only on the way back, because I haven't actually ever scouted out any hair-care places over here that carry the shampoo and detangler I can't live without... I buy large bottles of them Stateside and bring them back with me, and they're not light! I've been in the Netherlands for effectively 4 whole years, and STILL have not been able to transfer my whole DVD collection over! (does not help that we buy more every trip too...) Plus usually speaking, we have things requested by Dutch family to bring back with us. But not this time! This time we indulged ourselves by not bringing a ton of American goods home with us... we did that in July!
We are now getting to the point where space rather than weight is the issue. Most of the small items that could be stowed in coat pockets have been moved over, but larger things like dresses and stuffed animals and a crapton of books, movies, and pieces of art--things that I'd hate to say goodbye to--don't weigh much, but take up a lot of room. So now, we're faced with a different problem, which we'll try to put out of our heads until our next trip (March or April, probably).
The trip to Hawaii was the longest either of us has ever taken. Our route was Amsterdam-Portland-LA-Honolulu-Hilo... a lot to deal with if taking it all in one go! I insisted that we make a stopover in LA and sleep rather than trying to continue another 5 hours to Hawaii, where we would then have to catch another short island-hopper flight. I think it was a smart move on my part, as brain functionality after 23 hours--our total travel time getting there-- is not great, and then I would have had to drive a rental car... that would have gone badly!
Lots of Hawaiian exploits to come!
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