When it comes to baggage of any kind the best thing you can do is travel light. All those things you think you need to hang on to or bring just in case, you can do without.
I found out on my trip to Italy sensible packing is a must. When shopping for luggage I was drawn to some jaunty bright orange luggage by Jeep. It will be easy to spot and looks hardy and utilitarian.
I settled on a smaller cabin sized bag that had zip away straps to turn it into a backpack and a zip away sling to turn it into a shoulder bag, even a padded velcro pouch for my iPad, sold!
But now for the suitcase, I didn’t have an idea of what I could do with or do without, so I opted for a huge roller duffel the matching brand and colour. It had a pull out handle rollers pouches, zipped expanders, reducer straps it should be able to handle 3 weeks away.
My packing wasn’t that focused, I was traveling Europe in late May, I brought a heavy coat just in case, 4 collared shirts, 4 t shirts, a pair of black jeans, as many socks and underwear as possible, a hoodie, toiletries, long shorts, beach shorts, heavy desert delta boots, jandals, wool sweater, a tie and waistcoat, a small day-bag. belted pair of blue jeans I wore on the plane, leather slip on shoes for the plane. I could have made do with half of what I took as everywhere I stayed had washing machines.
Total luggage weight 17 Kgs, 14 in the duffel and 3 in carry on.
It actually sounds less when I write it down and I think it has more to do with the luggage I chose why it felt like more. The duffel was quite bulky every time I checked my luggage, the check in staff had a quizzical look and rechecked the scales, like I had stuffed it with helium balloons. It was lighter than it looked. But very bulky, I got cussed out by a 10 year old girl on the train from Rome to Carrara for blocking the aisle with it because it wouldn’t fit in the luggage rack.
4 Things I learned in transit:
1. Do wear layers on the plane. I froze on the long haul sections of the flights, the thin blanket they give you doesn’t cut it, on the way back I wore my merino jumper and a light leather jacket I picked up in Florence and was still a little chilly but I could zip up if it got too cold. Inexplicably it was hotter than the devils asshole on the way to and from Dubai.
2. Don’t wear pants that require a belt. Its not worth it for the amount of times you’ll need to take it off during security checks. Do wear pants though, just sayin.
3. Do have portable cabin luggage. Having a sling, backpack or wheels on your cabin luggage is really handy, when transiting in airports you will be commuting a lot from gate to gate.
4. Do use the toilet on the plane. In Dubai at least, there were huge queues and were more heavily trafficked than even the A380s toilets, this was discovered after thinking, “Oh I’ll just use the ones at the airport after we land.’ Pro tip there are usually toilets inside the departure gate before boarding which I used to change my shirt which makes me feel and smell more presentable.
As an additional bonus I had managed to lash the cabin bag to the trolley handle of the duffel to create luggage Voltron. Which made it slightly easier negotiating the Airports.
Dubai Airport is the most amazing airport ever. Seriously. It will make every other airport seem like it was built out of cardboard-boxes servicing Cessnas. It felt like I had touched down on another planet. Frank Herbert’s Dune or Tattooine from Star Wars sprang to mind as I looked out at the grand spires glinting in the early morning sun, I was greeted by a holographic projection of a man wearing a turban, the echoing notifications being spoken by a soft female voice in Arabic actually sounded a lot nicer to my ears than in english. Where is my boarding gate, I spotted a bank of touch screen benches, I scanned my boarding pass and it showed me where I was and where I needed to go. Just as well I checked because it involved a 6 story descent in a bedroom sized glass elevator looking out onto a waterfall in the Terminal walls about as high and a ride on a rapid transit train that was like a horizontal high speed elevator. After being in the Dubai Terminal it will spoil you.
I spent my first night in Rome at the airport Hilton (Which is lousier than it sounds actually), after nearly 40 hours awake, circling the confusing labyrinth of walkways to get to the Hotel, I awkwardly stood in line with the same Emirates Aircrew I had been flying with, normally I would have been enjoying their company, but I just wanted to check in, it felt like the last 100 meters in a marathon. I realized after some minutes they had a separate line going for non Aircrew, I made for the front desk, checked in, found my room, had a much needed shower and collapsed into bed for 14 hours.
Its such a scary feeling being uncontrollably sleepy, the fact it had held off until then was impressive. I passed out around 4pm. I woke before dawn some 14 hours later and looked out the window at Leonardo DaVinci Airport, Here I was watching the sun come up on the other side of the planet from where I started.
The next day I met the driver the AirBnb host had organized to take me to the apartment off Via Andria Doria in Rome, I could see the dome of St Peters and the Vatican wall from outside the apartment.
While shouldering my cabin bag the metal clasp broke on the sling.
“Shit, already?” I cursed it.
“No, Is fine, I fix, see?” The driver quickly fastened the strap to itself which would have to do.
I then proceeded to take my luggage up the 4 flights of stairs to the apartment. I met Daniella the AirBnb host, out of breath at the door. Daniella introduced me to one of the other guests, The Siberian. She tilted her head and looked me over.
“Privet, are you going camping?”
“Hi, Uhh, no?”
“Then why you bring tent?”
“Oh wow..” I thought, “Welcome to Rome.”