Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I do NOT need an intervention

I bought another bag.

Not a training bag this time, a luggage bag. Genuine, real, adult luggage.

Flash back 30 years. My parents bought me a set of luggage when I graduated from high school. That’s the sort of thing you did back then. Do people still do that or is another grad gift more en vogue?

In 1984, it was a set of hard-sided Samsonite Tourister luggage. There were two big suitcases, an “overnight bag” and a garment bag. I think my parents were giving me a hint - it was time to move on down the road. I used it to travel back and forth from Iowa State University for four years, then to my first apartment in 1988. I haven’t used it since, unless you count the time I loaned one of the suitcases to my in-laws when they went to Branson. Let’s face it, the Farmer and I are not big jet-setters.

When I started traveling a lot for obedience and agility weekends, I put my stuff in a duffel bag. Soft and squishy, duffel bags could be jammed between crates, on top of crates, behind crates and quite a few other places where “luggage” would never fit.

Through the years, I had a variety of duffel bags - different sizes, different colors, different pocket configurations. The need for the number and type of bags required for any given trip varied with the nature of the trip. Obedience? Agility? Motel? Friend’s house? Camping? One night? Two nights? Three nights? One dog? Two dogs? Three dogs?

When it comes to travel, I am an obsessive list maker. My packing list for a show weekend would include: people bag (show clothes, dinner clothes, PJs, toiletries. etc.), dog bag (food, treats, bowls, meds, sheet to cover the motel bedspread, toys and chewies for motel room entertainment, etc.), food bag (chips, fruit, cookies, bottled water, plasticware, Ziploc bags for restaurant leftovers, etc.) and a “bonus” bag (raincoat, extra shoes and any other odds and ends, pending the weather and situation).

In addition, there was always the obligate training gear bag and usually at least one set of scent articles in a bag. Camping? Add the tent bag and sleeping bag, plus a bag with pillow, blanket, etc. As the years progressed, I often added a camera bag and now, a laptop bag. I am such a bag lady there is no intervention in the world that will help.

But wait! Perhaps there is hope!

I’ve become a Rick Steves acolyte. Don’t know Rick Steves? Google him. He’s a travel guru who organizes tours through Europe and advocates “less is more” when it comes to packing for a trip. He feels you should spend your travel time enjoying the journey, not grunting and farting and hauling around big, heavy, over-packed luggage (my words, not his).

I met Rick on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon while flipping through channels and folding laundry. (I am the undisputed queen of flip and fold.) There he was on public television, making the prophetic announcement that in order to see if you are over-packing, take your loaded suitcase to a nearby town and play tourist for an afternoon, carrying or dragging it with you. Go window shopping, Go to a cafe. Was it a comfortable experience? If not, go home, dump everything out and start over. He’s a great advocate of “don’t pack for the worst case scenario, pack for the best case scenario and if you really need something, just go buy it.”

While this philosophy might not be the best idea when it comes to dog sports travel (Murphy’s Law decrees if you don’t pack the Bendadryl, you or your dog will get stung by a bee within minutes of getting out of  your car), it was worth contemplating. It would be nice to haul around less stuff. (Thank you, Wild Dingo, for pointing out the whole "economy of motion" principle a few weeks ago.)

I don’t need to pack super light — all I have to do is get my stuff into the motel on Friday night and back out on Sunday morning — but a light bulb had gone off. Could I condense the number of smaller bags into a single piece of luggage? Maybe not ALL of them. But maybe two or three? Wouldn’t it be lovely to deal with just ONE larger bag instead of three or four smaller ones? Could it be done?

So I’ve bought a piece of soft-side luggage that is smaller than my hard-as-nails Samsonite and bigger than my most extreme duffel bag. Technically, it's an airplane carry-on. With some practice, I hope to eliminate my bag lady look when checking into motel. (Seriously, a couple of times I swear the only thing missing was a shopping cart.)

I’ll let you know how it goes.


  1. Hah, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I recently did a major condensing on my packing for dog events by limiting myself to three bags: Car bag, ringside bag, and hotel bag. Car bag includes snacks for the trip, extra leashes, etc. Ringside bag includes anything I need for at ringside for myself or my dogs. Hotel bag has all my clothes, toiletries, and dog stuff for at the hotel. It was amazing to travel so light last time!

    This is a huge improvement, btw, from my previous arrangement of dog bag, ringside bag for dogs, ringside human stuff, motel stuff for humans, couple of grocery bags for car snacks, and an extra bag or two full of the stuff that didn't fit anywhere else.

  2. I used to have the multiple bag system, too. Currently I am using clear storage boxes - a "mom" box (my food, sporks, travel wine glasses, charging cables for electronics, etc) and a "dog" box - (dog food, treats, bowls, hotel room chewies, a couple toys, etc). It is easy to see what's in there. But I still have one bag with the sheet for the top of the bed, paper towels, my dog pottying shoes, and some spray cleaner "just in case". I use a rolling duffel for my clothes. And of course the little cooler, and training bag that goes ringside. Oh man, we must all look like we're permanently moving in to our hotels instead of just a couple days.

  3. Haha I saw that same show last Sunday! :) He is oh so right but I do find that if I'm traveling by car I always overpack!

  4. I have never tried to travel with dogs; it sounds so arduous packing their stuff (food, treats, bowls, meds, toys and etc.) when I don’t even know how to cram mine in a suitcase. But in case I have no choice, and I have to take my irresistibly cute pup with me, I’ll probably shove his stuff on a separate carry-on, instead of using another luggage.
    Mana Smoot

  5. All I can say is: I feel your pain sister. deeply. i just bought new equipment for the cracker and the criminal. it's so complex, it comes with it's own bag. and now i have to choose between it and another piece of equipment if/when we vacation with the dogs. and i started to panic. and i don't even have a vacation with them planned.

    sure travel lightly but live heavily prepared is what I (or MWD) would say!