Recently I took a trip back to the Midwest to visit family and friends. This is the first time in a long time that I actually checked a bag. Let me say that I cringed when I paid $25 each way for the bag. And let me also say that because I was checking a bag, I rationalized over-packing. This means that I packed for all four seasons for a nine-day trip with a single destination. (Whoops.)
What Happens When You Don't Follow Your Own Rules
If you've ever been to the Midwest in March you know that the weather can be beautiful and springlike, or to quote my brother, "heinous" - meaning anything from drizzle to snow to a full-blown ice storm. Despite the weather report indicating conditions on the beautiful side, and despite regularly giving my clients advice to only pack what you need, I wanted to be prepared so I broke my own rules.
The weather turned out to be consistently 80 degrees with a nice breeze - very close to what the weather report said, and completely negating my other three seasons of clothing. This was of course lovely - until I returned to Seattle with my carry-on and my checked bag.
The Down Side of Checking a Bag
For the first time in years, I did not pack an extra set of clothes in my carry-on bag for that "just in case" situation. After all, what could happen? I was just going from Des Moines to Minneapolis to Seattle.
We had a few interesting glitches before my first flight could leave, including some unexpected clean-up and a surprise FAA inspection. And finally there was that weather I'd thus far escaped during my trip: high-speed wind gusts, lightning, et cetera.
After about 80 minutes of delays, we finally took off for Minneapolis. What followed was a series of unfortunate events that eventually found me at 9:30 that night in a hotel that I can only call "slightly seedy" - with no change of clothes.
Anyone who flies regularly knows that this scenario is not an unheard-of disaster but an annoyance that comes with the territory. And anyone who flies a lot knows that this slight annoyance can be mitigated by packing extra underwear, a clean change of clothes, and some decent sleepwear in their carry-on.
Did it ruin my trip that I had to wear one outfit for two days? No. But it did enlighten me about a couple of things:
- I need to follow my own rules about traveling light. I always say, "less stuff, more fun" and I hate it when I have to admit that I took too many shoes or that I foolishly over-prepared. Had I not checked a bag full of extra, unnecessary items, I would have had a change of clothes in my carry-on, and my unexpected stay in Minneapolis would have been much more pleasant.
- There is nearly no reason under the sun to check a bag. None. Exceptions COULD be a trip around or across the world, though I have my doubts. Going to the Midwest for nine days most certainly does not count.
So, the next time you take off on a trip, make sure you pack ONLY what you need and what the weather report indicates is necessary. Anything else is simply taking up space in what should be a relaxing trip.