Orange luggage & boots update…

 

You can tell by the little bulging muscle on the right side of my calf that I have tried to no avail, exercising my calves to build them up. If a scorpion or other such creature sees this gap in the boots, they may find it an appealing hiding place.This may warrant a visit to the shoe repair store.

Orange luggage, yes!  Fabulous!  Top quality!  Lightweight! The four giant boxes and two smaller boxes arrived on Friday afternoon.  How easily I lifted them into the house!  The Fed Ex guy even commented on the lightweight big boxes, curious as to the contents, amazed when I told him it was luggage.

Carefully, a little knife in hand, I slit the tape off the over sized boxes to easily pull out the orange bags.  Squealing like a kid, I couldn’t open them quickly enough, tossing one on the bed to unzip and inspect further.

The orange isn’t a Halloween pumpkin orange or the color of a naval orange.  It is subtle, definitely orange, comparable to the color of the mashed sweet potatoes, under the fluffy pillow of melted marshmallows to be devoured on Thanksgiving day. (We don’t eat that dish anymore…or even the sweet potatoes for that matter; too much sugar, too many carbs, too much starch.)

The bags are deep, well constructed, easy to zip.  Within minutes I loaded up one of the luggage carts with three of the 30″ Antler Bags, topped off with one of  the new orange carry on bags.  Yes, I knew they were empty. I wanted to see how well the four items would fit on the luggage cart.  Perfect!

Of course, when they are loaded to the brim with our “stuff” it will be different but…it will be manageable. I was thrilled.  Last night, I ordered two more of the 30″ orange bags after I sheepishly told Tom we’d each need three, not two of the bags.  

I’d expected him to flinch when he heard we’d need three 30″ bags.  He didn’t. He smiled at me, reminded of our somewhat preposterous situation, leaving everything behind, taking everything we need with us for the next three years, five years, ten years.  Who knows?  

We’ll manage. We’ll manage with a grin on our faces.  And when the bags feel really heavy, toppling off the cart, landing on a well-booted foot, we will smile, stop, help each other and keep moving on. This we know for sure.

And, my Clark lace up boots arrived on Thursday during the jewelry sale.  I didn’t open the box right away.  I had spent so much time looking online, that I wanted to prolong the anticipation a little longer, preferring to stay preoccupied with the sale.  

Returning home from taking down the hot pink “for sale” signs, I opened the box, feeling giddy over the great find, only to be sorely disappointed when I tried them on.  

The foot, a perfect fit, the calf, a fiasco!  I had measured my skinny calves before buying the boots, checking the detailed description of each possibility to ensure a good fit.  They called it “shaft circumference.”  The description stated a 14″ shaft circumference.  My calves measured 12.5″ leaving adequate room to tuck in pants to keep out 6″ scorpions.  They lied.

The shaft circumference measured 16.5″, leaving room for both of my hands to reach inside.  An entire scorpion family could reside in there.  No thank you. Now what?  Back to the computer, searching “skinny calf boots,  thin calf boots, narrow calf boots, skinny leg boots?  No!!!

Friday morning, before friends were arriving for breakfast I started calling local shoe repair store.  Yes, most likely, it can be done…the shaft can be made smaller, for a price, of course. 

“Bring them in for an estimate. It could be $70 or more,” says Bob of Bob’s Shoe Repair in Wayzata, Minnesota, where 30 years ago, maybe 40, I’d go to get shoes repaired.  Who repairs shoes these days?  Gosh, I sound old.

Monday morning, off to Wayzata I’ll go with the Clark boots.  Thus far, I’ve invested $149.98 plus shipping for a total of $161.98.  This could translate into a total investment of $250.  But, the end result may be a perfectly fitted, well constructed, long lasting, timelessly stylish, safe from scorpions, sure footed pair of comfortable boots, lasting for years,  that I will be wearing as we dash down the concourse to our gate.

Next to my sweetie, I’ll be wheeling one of our 250 pound capacity two wheeled carts, loaded up with three 30″ orange Antler bags, an orange Antler carry on bag, a laptop backpack, a handbag for me, a man purse for Tom (called a murse) heading to our next adventure. Homeless?  Yep!  Harried?  For sure! Happy?  Undoubtedly!

Orange?…What???…

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? 

Luggage carts…practical or foolish?…

We deliberated over buying luggage carts. Would they simply add additional weight to haul around the world?  Would we be charged extra baggage fees to store them on the plane?  Would they serve as a invaluable resource to make the transportation from location to location more manageable?

After spending several hours researching baggage restriction on flights and after analyzing and weighing our load, thus far, we came to the conclusion that we must take the risk and buy the carts.  Restrictions on cruises are only a “per bag” limit weight of 70 pounds to avoid injuries to their handlers. There are no restrictions on the number of bags on cruises.

What if we could place each of our two 50 pound suitcases, our 40 pound carry on bags, our computer gear and my handbag on each of our carts? (No money, passports or important papers will be in my handbag. The allowed space for handbags will be utilized for clothing, shoes, etc.)  Important items will be tucked away in our carry on bags with an exterior zippered pouch for our easy access to our travel documents.  Our wallets will be secured under our clothing. 

We purchased two of these luggage carts each with a
250 pound capacity at Global Industries

The potential total weight for each of our luggage carts is anticipated to be approximately 180 pounds, an amount impossible to wheel and carry at one time without a cart.  Buying a cart with a capacity of 250 pounds would ensure a more stable structure, enabling each of us to be able to wheel our own carts.

Our cart, folded for easy placement under the seat on an airplane

Researching airline baggage restriction, we found that most airlines will allow any wheeling or carrying devices aboard as long as it will fit under the seat. After investigating the folded up size of the carts we chose and the size of the space under the seats on most aircraft, we determined that the carts will fit.

The thought of easily wheeling our bags to cruise ships, through airports, on trains, ferries and in and out of our vacation homes, provides a great sense of relief. Recently, some family, friends and followers of this blog have asked why we don’t just throw some stuff in a suitcase and take off without all this planning.

In our minds, the answer is clear. Most people, when traveling for a few weeks or months have a home to which they return to at the end of their travels. We won’t.  We will continue on. Since we aren’t considering this a “vacation” but rather “living” (as Tom describes it), we need to bring things with us that we need, want and use.

Under no circumstances, do we want the burden of finding a mall, a drugstore, or a post office. Neither of us enjoys going to stores, although I enjoy grocery shopping which we will obviously need to do wherever we go. Whether an outdoor farmer’s market or a tiny little shop on a corner, we will enjoy shopping for local meats and produce.

Neither Tom nor I would enjoy wearing the same items day after day. We tend to wear an item once and then wash it, sloppy that we both are when dining (mostly me)! We make a point of trying to look nice for each other.  It’s a part of the attraction we both fell for each other so many years later; fresh smelling, clean, attractive clothes, well groomed, and for me; some makeup, earrings, manicured nails and polished toes (I have always done these myself). 

Currently, through instructions online for how to cut a man’s hair, I will strive to cut Tom’s hair to his liking. We don’t want to have to spend time looking for a barber or Tom feeling frustrated with a peculiar cut. A few nights ago, I suggested that he grow a beard and a wear a ponytail. Here again, he wants to be “himself” and wasn’t interested. We’ll figure this out together.
None of our quirky traits will change when we’re traveling the world or when and if we ever settle down. It is part of who we are individually and, as a couple. For us, it is a part of the magic. (We accept that we are giving up so much to gain this experience together; seeing our loved ones, drinking coffee, enjoying familiar foods, my kitchen gadgets, watching US TV, reading the newspaper, our home, our friends and neighbors, the 4th of July, having a dog, access to a health club, and on and on.

 

Thus, this reality adds greatly to the packing. There’s “stuff” associated with feeling “put together.” We are willing to bear the consequences of our picky choices, by wheeling our carts, paying extra for baggage on the fewer flights we’ll experience and for packing and unpacking the “stuff” each time we reach a destination.

This weekend we’ll load up the carts with the two already pack bags, adding several more items to get the feel of wheeling around 180 pounds. If it doesn’t feel great, I will up the weights at my workouts and build more muscle.

After all, we still have three months and six days until we walk out the door!