Wednesday, August 08, 2007

And I was worried about spilling coffee on my pants

As I write this, I should be driving into my neighborhood, returning from a two day trip to Oakland. But because we are working on our financial plan for 2008, I got asked to stay an extra day, which makes this all the more ironic/humorous/sardonic/insert your own adjective.

I've been reading a lot about minimalist packing and travel, some with ideas on how to pack, others on what to pack, yet others with the suggestion to buy most of your stuff on the road. I have a coworker who says he can pack for a week long trip in a backpack (and his back pack isn't that big). I decided that an overnight trip would be a safe way to try it out.

So, I gathered my toiletries, which is two quart sized ziploc bags, separated for the TSA screeners and the rest of the stuff and my clothes. I decided that I would re-wear my pants, so I packed a fresh t-shirt, pair of socks and shirt. It all fit nicely into a quart ziploc bag and then the three bags were able to fit into my messenger bag, even with all this stuff in it. So far, so good.

What I took with me for an overnight trip

I fly on the first flight of the day, so that I can be in Oakland before 9 am (yes, I get there before some marketers) and not have to spend the night away from my family. Since I've been really tired of late (the subject of another blog I have yet to write), I decided to let myself sleep in to 3:30am. It turns out the shuttle was a little delayed and security lines were really long and I ended up running through Sea-Tac International, all the way to gate B14, at the very end of the B concourse. I got to the gate as they were calling my name to board and I was 3rd to the last to board.

But, what made running through the airport easier was that I didn't have a second bag. My messenger bag was slung over my shoulder, my toiletries were in one hand and my laptop in the other. No rolling bag clipping my heels, flipping over, or slowing me down. On the plane, I didn't have to struggle finding space in the overhead bin. My messenger bag fit underneath the seat like always. Traveling light has its benefits!

Heather and I had been joking that with my plan to re-wear the pants, I must be careful not to spill coffee on myself. Little did I know that I should really try to avoid vomit splatter. Yes, I just went there. I got sick to my stomach Tuesday afternoon. In the middle of a conversation with someone, I burped up a little vomit and made a beeline for the bathroom. It was a really, really long way away. I ended up vomiting a little more and trying to avoid splashing on my self, wondering how sick was I really going to get.

Nobody wants to get sick 800 miles from home, with no spare clothes. Our Director of Procurement happened to visit the bathroom for his own needs and asked how I was, I think more so as a polite gesture. I responded, "I'm still trying to figure that out." On his way out he asked if I needed anything and I asked for a cup. He dashed out and promptly returned with a cup. I was grateful, that helped me with the final stages of cleanup - gargling out the leftover vomit from the back of my throat.

I wiped myself off with wet paper towels, just to cool off and get back to normal and went back to my conversation. I maintained a much larger standoff distance, just in case I had a repeat.

Day two was a better day for my stomach. No issues at all. Sure I avoided the Tabasco at breakfast, re-thinking my move as I reached for it, but it went okay.

Until I was asked to stay a day later. This, of course, has an impact on my family, makes scheduling plane flights and new hotel reservations a mess and I was traveling light! I had no spares. Luckily, my wife was flexible, our Admin skilled and Old Navy was close to my hotel. It was me, not our Admin, who bought me new boxers and a shirt so that I can look fresh in the morning.

All in all, this traveling light experiment was successful. I was able to pack just the minimum, I could compensate for the unexpected through purchasing additional clothes and I saw a lot of stuff at Old Navy that is really cool! I still have to figure out how I'm getting it all home again; I think that the USPS stuff-as-much-as-you-can-in priority envelope will be a key player, but we'll see. And I'll have to decide whether or not I do this again.


Erik said...

I've done the buy-stuff-to-travel thing a few times, unless you've got a lot of extra stuff, just ask the store for a larger/heavier bag, or a second plastic bag, and just use that as your carry-on.

Another travel-lite tip that I picked up from Brandon and now swear by - if you've got any old, holey or threadbare socks and underwear that you need to discard anyway, pack or wear those and ditch them when you pack to leave - more room instantly for stuff you pick up on the trip!

Beau said...

I ended up doing the high-class plastic bag luggage from Old Navy as my carry on. It worked great!

I'd read about that throw away technique too. That might have some merit, especially as I have some socks that are coming to the end of their rotation!

Unknown said...

Dude! Save the planet. no need for plastic bags. Use the People's Park approach. One word:


Your skinny butt could have afforded 2 or 3 pairs of pants on the plane easy. Now that is the way to travel light.

I bet you could have even bought jeans and worn them as a tasteful scarf or jacket.

Use that Berkeley noggin.

Tell him Erik!

I 'm sure you could get away with tying a couple pairs of shoes around your ankles as anklets.