To Check or Not To Check?

I read lots of travel blogs and articles. It’s incredible how much I’ve learned from bloggers and columnists over the last few years. And while some, especially family travel blogs, don’t mention this, it’s something I see often in blogs/articles typically written by folks who travel solo or in pairs. It was almost a throwaway sentence but it was something to the effect of “of course, never check a bag”. And that’s just a statement I find so unrealistic.

I do occasionally go on weekend trips and it’s true that on those trips I can usually get away without checking a bag. But on my longer trips? You betcha I’m checking.

I love to ski. And no matter how economically I pack, there’s no way my skis are going to fit in the overhead bin. My ski trips are typically a week long, Saturday-Saturday. While sometimes we have washers & dryers in our condo, sometimes we don’t. And I don’t want to waste time & money washing clothes if it’s not free and in my condo. I’m typically on the slopes from 9 AM to 3 PM (sometimes later) each day, often followed by a hot tub session. Then it’s time to get ready for dinner and our entire group (sometimes more than 60 people) usually eats together. That means it’s often 8 PM or later before we get back to the condo and frankly, I have no interest in doing laundry then. By 10 PM I’m wiped out and ready for bed.

So if I don’t have laundry facilities in my condo, I’m just not going to be bothered with it. That means I need to bring at least six of all my skiing underlayers: turtlenecks, long johns (tops & bottoms), athletic bras and socks. Of course, more underwear than that as well as a couple of regular bras. (I don’t mind wearing those more than one day since I only wear them for a few hours at night.)

I bring two ski outfits, one for each bag, for two reasons:
1) I’ve been on trips where one of my bags was delayed overnight. This way I have something to ski in even if that happens. This is also how I learned the hard way to pack half the underwear in each bag so you’ll have some if one bag doesn’t make it on time!
2) I want to alternate the outfits I ski in. I’m not the most efficient skier on the planet and as a result sometimes I work hard out there and, as a result, I sweat. I don’t glisten or shine, I sweat. So I like to let each outfit air out for a day before I wear it again. Otherwise I don’t even want to be around me and I can’t imagine anyone else would either!

I’ve also read where people discuss only bringing the pair of shoes they wear on the plane. A nice idea but what if something happens to those shoes? What if you accidentally step on some ice and it breaks through to a puddle? Or a passing vehicle splashes filthy slush on your shoes? Any number of things could happen to make your shoes temporarily or even permanently unwearable and often at ski resorts the shops close around dinner time. What if it happens on the final night before returning home? Are you going to wear your slippers or ski boots on the plane? Even if you’re not on a trip somewhere that the stores close early, do you really want to have to buy another pair of (perhaps overpriced) shoes when you have a closet full of them at home? I find the whole notion silly.

But even on my non-skiing trips, I’m usually only somewhere for 7-10 days or so. I’m typically somewhere I haven’t been before so I want to get out and see everything, not spend time in the room or condo doing laundry. Yes, I’m one of those who typically needs a vacation when I get back just to recover from my vacation but I’d rather be very active while I’m traveling than sit around. I am able to go to the beach and relax for a few days but after one full day of that I can usually only stand it for a couple of hours on other days. If I want to just sit out in the sun, I’m sure I can find somewhere here in town to do that without having to travel halfway around the world!

What’s your stance on the whole “no checked luggage” traveling style? For me, it’s nice in theory but unrealistic. But it all depends on where you’re traveling, how long you’re gone and what you’ll be doing during your travels.

Photo attribution: By Duhhitsminerva (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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