This is the part where I tell you about our packing and pre-travel purchases. I wouldn’t normally do this, but I feel we did a pretty good job and have a few things to wholeheartedly recommend.
A large part of our time and energy went into booking really affordable flights. This meant that we were booking legs of the trip separately and then calling and having them connected when possible. Sometimes they weren’t connected at all. Some of the flights took place days apart and were on discount airlines in Europe that have great prices but tons of add-on fees. All of this meticulous plane scheduling meant that we would have to carry on our luggage. It also meant that we had to meet the most restrictive luggage requirements from the very beginning even if it only applied to one hour-long flight the whole trip, which it did.
After researching the carry on limits for our flights we were bummed to realize that only Rosalind’s existing luggage met the standard. We had to start from scratch. I was a little thrown by the measurements at first but quickly looked at it as a fun challenge. I like to look at capsule/travel wardrobes online and figured I could give it a shot. Sergio researched bags and settled on the Osprey Transporter 40. This bag can be carried like a duffel or a backpack. It is somehow small enough to meet all flight requirements without a second look from airline staff yet shockingly roomy inside. Definitely my highest recommendation and kind of the whole point of this post. It comes in three colors and that’s just what we got. Sam had black, Sergio had red, and I carried blue. We looked like perfectly coordinated little soldiers everywhere we went. On flights we could set our bags in a row, on their sides in the overhead compartment, and take up the space of one regular suitcase. They fit everywhere. Each time a taxi driver or inn keeper helped us with our luggage we would get compliments on traveling so lightly. A whole family no less!
It was so freeing to travel so lightly. I’ve learned my lesson over the years about taking too much stuff, but now I fully understand the benefit of everything easily on your back. The big question remains – did we have enough clothes? Yes. And space to shop a little. My bag included:
1 Romper, 2 sundresses, 1 maxi dress, 1 jeans, 1 shorts, 3 dressy tanks, 3 cami tanks, 2 pairs of shoes, 3 cardigans, 1 pajama pants, a makeup/toiletries bag, a cords bag, a medicine bag, a brush, and undergarments.
I also originally carried some extra clothes I had gotten for Sergio until we met up and switched. That meant I had extra room to stow my purse if I wanted or to shop later, which I did. I eventually added an additional skirt, tank, and jacket to my bag. Sergio ultimately bought a dress shirt and sport coat along the way. The point is that we had extra room. Pro tip: this seems obvious but when trying to keep bags light and small, always wear your bulkiest clothes on travel days. My travel outfit every flight was the same. Jeans, cami, dress tank, cardigan, biggest shoes. Carry the jacket. Another tip: the secret to capsule/travel wardrobes is interchangeability. Literally every article of clothing I took with me was blue/gray/white/black. Everything could be worn with everything else. I’m not saying I was a fashion plate or anything, but I wasn’t offending anybody.
We loved our bags. I see no need to have anything else ever again. The only thing that was ever even mildly annoying was how hard it was to unfold the bag upon delivery (turns out you just have to pull harder than you think you should). If you’re wondering if they got heavy, I would say that at our bulkiest packing toward the end of the trip we were all hovering around 12 lbs. Not too shabby.
The next recommendation is limited to women with crappy feet. I have terrible feet. Travel walking always results in a bunch of different foot ailments for me. Horrible heel pain, possible hairline fractures, and goofy encroaching toes that cut into each other even when my toenails are perfectly groomed. It’s just a mess. I didn’t want to take any chances that I would be the weak link this go around and started researching early. This is the part where I should say I recognize that I should probably go to the doctor about my feet, but we all know I’m not gonna be that responsible. First I tried over the counter plantar fasciitis inserts. My heels might have felt a bit better but my knees hurt in their place. Not useful. After reading a lot of real travel blogs I had a list of shoes to look for that were supposed to be okay. As luck would have it, I ran across one of those pairs right away the Fairbanks Journey’s store. Sperry’s Seacoast Canvas Sneaker. I took a chance and bought them. I wore them to work twice to make sure they weren’t miserable and then put them away until a couple of weeks before the trip. I wore these shoes nearly every moment of the trip and stayed remarkably healthy of foot! Virtually no heel pain and no bleeding toes! Hooray! So if you’re looking for non-orthopedic shoes that still work well then these might work for you.
Just for good measure I should mention that while we had good flights all around, the standout airline ended up being Air Transat. They are billed as an economy airline, but I never felt the economizing. They gave us two meals, snacks, free entertainment, blankets and pillows! So much stuff I didn’t really know what to do with myself. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a flight that nice.
Go forth and see stuff!