Deciding on what type of luggage we needed wasn’t easy.  It must be lightweight, durable, affordable and possessing good quality. As always, research has been an integral part of any of our decisions.  

Off and on over the past several months I read reviews and baggage restrictions for a multitude of airlines traveling to our required three flights:  Rome to Mombasa, Kenya; Mombasa, Kenya to Nelspruit, South Africa and Lisbon, Portugal to the island of Madiera, Portugal and back to Lisbon, a total of four flights.

To fly coach on some airlines, one checked bag, one carry on, one computer backpack with one hand bag per person is acceptable. (Tom, much to his dismay will now be carrying a “murse,”a man purse or what they also call a messenger bag). Other airlines allow two checked bags.  If one travels first class, most airlines will allow more bags, number unknown.

We are less than two months premature into booking our first flight to Mombasa, Kenya, which we’ll do as soon as possible.  After researching the cost of first class with some possible discounts, it may pay to bite the bullet and go first class or perhaps business class, depending on baggage restrictions and fares.

The flight from Rome to Kenya with a few layovers, is a minimum of 17 hours. There are a few better priced options for as many as 29 hours (yikes!). First class would provide food (hopefully pin-free) and comfortable seating, enabling one to sleep with more leg room to accommodate my 34″ inseam, much longer than Tom’s.

This morning, as I perused the overstuffed totes in our bedroom, filled to the brim with more “stuff” to pack, it appears we may each require three checked bags.  With our two 250 pound capacity luggage carts, we can do this!

Last night, we purchased four, 30″ Antler bags, a company in the UK known for manufacturing quality,  lightweight bags, along with two matching carry on bags from eBags at their eBay store.  

Orange Antler 30″ Expandable 4 Wheel Bag

After this morning, I faced the reality that we may as well purchase two more of the 30″ bags, once we’ve inspected them. Luckily, eBags provides free shipping both ways in the event one is dissatisfied.

Originally, we had planned to buy the Antler Zero 30″ bag, retailing for $540, priced at $249 on eBay.  The quality was slightly better than what which we purchased.   But, the thought of spending almost $1000 for four bags killed me, as opposed to the $444 we paid last night plus $79 for each of the two carry on bags.

We chose the Antler Toluca 30″ expandable four wheel upright bag for the following reasons, by order of importance:

  1. Quality brand
  2. Lightweight at 7.9 pounds each
  3. The color:  ORANGE  (easy to find amongst all the black bags at baggage claim).  Also, the color causes the bag to appear more of a “fashion” bag than an upscale expensive bag which may ultimately deter thieves.  We leave Minnesota on Halloween, orange, get it? Hahaha (Tom didn’t think that was funny).  
  4. Great price at $111 each plus free shipping
  5. Perfect size to comply with airline’s 63″ maximum dimensions
  6. Four wheels for stability, when they are off of the cart
  7. TSA locks, allowing us to lock the bags, but avoiding the TSA’s typical habit of cutting off non-regulation locks. This doesn’t provide a guarantee against theft, but it does reduce the risk. 
Let’s talk about the ORANGE. Why not, orange?  One would hesitate to do a bright color for fear of what others would think.  Right?  Is there any other reason? None that I can think of.  If you think of any, please post a comment here.
ORANGE BAGS? Yes, some passersby may look at our bags and say, “Ugly bags!”  We will laugh, hoping they aren’t referring to us and say to one another, “What thief is going to grab an orange bag from the carousel in baggage claim and run off, hoping to blend in with the crowd? 

No bed bugs for us!…

These ideas just pop into our heads.  We research.  We discuss the options.  We consider price, shipping costs, quality, weight, and most of all, how badly do we need it.

Both Tom and I cringe at the thought of bed bugs.  Who doesn’t?  

We currently have a dual king Sleep Number bed, for us, the most comfortable bed in the world.  The fact that the head and foot of each side of bed raise up by two individual remote controls (as well as adjusting the degree of firmness), resulting in the necessity of two separate mattresses and box springs. 

The only drawback has been the difficulty of the cuddling, being divided by a crack between the two mattresses.  We have managed to compensate for this quite well, thank you.  Use your imagination. 

Giving up our bed is not easy for me.  It is the only piece of furniture to which I will sadly say goodbye. Suffering with a painful spine condition, the bed has been a lifesaver for me over the past 9 years since we made the pricey purchase.  Tom could sleep on a bed of nails!  He won’t miss the bed.

As we wind down here, the topic of bed bugs has come to the surface. Will our vacation homes have more or less risk of bed bugs as opposed to a hotel?  We’ve decided that we would rather haul around a solution than haul around several thousand bed bugs in our luggage.  

As a result, we will need zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers!  Yes, we’ll now be hauling an extra 9 pounds (approximate weight. We will weigh them when they arrive).  This may sound foolish and overly paranoid.  But, I ask, have you seen photos of bed bugs or the risks to one’s health?  Yikes!  

Yesterday at noon, laptop in hand, frosty iced tea beside me and parked in my comfy chair, the online search began for the zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers.

A new dilemma, entered the picture.  What size do we buy? A few of the houses we are renting, have a king sized bed, some are queen while others are simply old fashioned double beds (talk about cuddling).  It would be impossible to haul varying sizes.  

Most king-sized beds have a split box spring.  After much research, we discovered the importance of covering the box springs as well as the mattress.   

Solution: purchase two zippered queen-sized box spring covers in the event of double box springs on the king beds and, purchase one zippered king-sized mattress cover, although too big for the smaller beds, can be tucked in under the mattress.  

After searching through ten various bedding sites, to determine full retail price, quality brands that we also allergy proof, bed bug proof and comfortable to sleep on (no vinyl, no latex), I found my way back to eBay for some serious bed bug free shopping.

This was not the easiest item to find. The quality and pricing was all over the place. After a good hour and a half of searching, I finally found what we needed, the king mattress, the two queen box spring and the two king pillow covers, all meeting our criteria. Grand total $173.17.  

Each time we will arrive at a property, before unpacking our bags, we will have to cover the mattress, box spring and pillows of the bed we will sleep in.  We may be exhausted from traveling, may have been flying for 24 hours or more, may want to fall on our faces on the bed.  

Then again, when we leave for the next location, we’ll have to remember to take them off of the bed early enough to wash and dry them, and fold them properly to fit into our luggage.  Not an easy task.  If we have an early departure with no time for laundry, we will be bringing an airtight sealed bag that we will carry on in order to keep it separate from our luggage until we can launder them when arrive at the next spot.  Not an easy task.

We console ourselves for this daunting task by reminding ourselves: no more lawn to mow, no weeds to pull, no windows to wash, no hauling patio furniture, inside and out, no carpet to shampoo, no cars to wash, no hatches to batten down in winter, no more utility bills and on and on and on.  

Life is filled with trade-offs.  Yes, we are trading one load of tasks for a whole new world of tasks, in a new environment, with new people around us, with new scenery to enjoy.  But one thing remains the same, we will have each other. And that, dear readers, is how and why we do this; to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with our lover, our best friend and our favorite companion with whom dreams are made and ultimately realized. 

So, one more item is knocked off the list, that will give us peace of mind, reduce stress and add to the enjoyment of “living in the world” for no less than three years and maybe, health providing, many more years to come.

Be well.