Living out of a suitcase

Though I still love the title, Following Augustine, I might have called this blog Living Out of a Suitcase since its original intent was to chronicle our travels and it still serves that purpose from time to time.

This week I read an article about a young man who spent six weeks travelling around the world without any luggage. None at all! He took nothing with him that wouldn’t fit into his pockets. I like to travel light but I’m afraid I couldn’t quite manage that! When we leave home, we have several suitcases to choose from but we decided to buy yet another one when we were in Calgary last weekend.

When we fly, we rarely take as much luggage as we’re allowed. In fact, we moved to Japan for an entire year with less than the full amount that the airline would have permitted. We did purchase one enormous suitcase for that trip though; one that probably won’t be used again. Shortly after we bought it, the airlines reduced the maximum allowable weight per bag from 70 lb (32 kg) to 50 lb (23 kg). Filling that enormous bag while keeping its weight under 50 lb was a major challenge. I don’t think they even make suitcases that big anymore. It’s so large that I could almost pack myself in it! Hmm… I’ll definitely have to remember that idea for future games of hide-and-seek with the grandchildren!

where's Gram?

Our most interesting and innovative piece of luggage is the two piece Mountain Equipment Coop backpack that Richard received from his school staff as a retirement gift. Attached together, the two multi pocketed bags are big enough that they have to fly as checked baggage but when separated, the larger wheeled pack and the smaller detachable day pack can travel as carry ons. They were absolutely perfect for short trips within Japan and also wandered Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia with us.

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= this

We bought this set as an early retirement gift to ourselves when we made our first trip to Japan in 2005. They replaced the old soft sided suitcases that we’d been using for many years; some since my university days. Those ones didn’t have wheels which have to be the best addition to suitcase technology yet. The smaller one can go as either checked baggage or carry on and it’s great for overnight trips. The larger one serves us well when we’re away from home for several days.  Together they don’t give us quite enough space for longer trips like our upcoming two month sojourn to Saipan though.

On our recent six week trip to Japan, we took the set of two and the MEC backpack but that proved a bit awkward. Two people trying to push, pull or carry three pieces of luggage through crowded airports and on and off trains is just too difficult. Though the airlines permit international travellers to check two bags each, we’ve decided that the best rule of thumb is one person, one bag. That’s why we went shopping for yet another one similar in size to the larger one shown above.

We may not be willing or able to travel the world with nothing but what we can fit in our pockets but I’m completely confident that with one good sized suitcase each and a small carry on to hold a few essentials to tide us over if those suitcases don’t arrive at our destination at the same time as we do, we could travel indefinitely.


2 thoughts on “Living out of a suitcase

  1. I always take too much stuff. even on a canoe trip I find myself overpacking and regretting it at every portage. I cannot imagine living out of my pockets. We are in the process of packing our mini-van for our four month trip. It is a challenge, we have amattress covering the back floor and have built a shelf to hold our stuff. Thank you for the reminder that we do not need that much stuff.

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