Jun 052011

Over the recent holiday weekend I flew up north to visit family as I do every year.  It has become a bit of a tradition for the few remaining members of my family to get together to eat, reminisce, and wonder who will die next.  Sad, but true.  Since it is a trip that I try to make at least once a year I keep a set of clothes at my mother’s place so I can travel without dragging along a bunch of luggage.  In fact I can make that trip without carrying any luggage, just the essentials in my pocket, wallet, id, boarding pass, phone.  It makes it real easy to get in and out of the airports and saves a lot of time and money.  Too bad no one else can grasp the concept.

When I fly I get to spend some time in one of my favorite pastimes at the airport, people watching.  It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff some people feel they need just to travel someplace for a short period of time.  It confuses me too as I am under the impression that you can only take one carry on bag and one personal item on board an aircraft.  Apparently that is not the case.  I watched people board flights with a backpack, roll on luggage, a purse, a laptop, and who knows what else.  I wonder if they are traveling or moving.  It’s hard to tell.

Seriously though, how much stuff to you need to take for a simple weekend trip?  Couple changes of clothes, depending on the weather and activities, maybe your laptop, ipad, or phone, and not much else.  Depending on where you are going, you can pick up toiletries, cosmetics, and other consumables at your destination.  If it is in the U.S. it is about guaranteed that there will be a store nearby when you land.  So why bother to drag so much shit along?  All that extra baggage just slows down the lines at security along with boarding and leaving an aircraft.

I will say though that about half the people I saw traveling this trip had nothing more that a backpack.  I’d like to think that the minimalist movement has become mainstream and everyone is downsizing but that is just wishful thinking.  The airlines on the other hand are loving the extra baggage.  Since instituting baggage fees in 2008, airlines now make nearly 1/3 of their profit from extra bags.  So not only are you slowing down the travel process and aggravating those of us who travel light, you are contributing to corporate profits by bringing all that excess stuff with you.

The next time you have to travel someplace, particularly by air.  Stop and think a bit about how much stuff you will actually need to take.  Follow the original advice I have given as to taking a minimalist view of things.  You either will need it or not.  None of this “Maybe I’ll need it”.  Downsize for your next trip.  Pick one bag, or backpack, and limit your stuff to what will fit in the bag.  Essentials and then, if there is room, add a bit more, or just keep it simple.  Make it easy on yourself, and the rest of us that have to wait while you drag all your worldly possessions around the airport.

The Fritter