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You win, Wow Air. I caved and purchased baggage.

I fly from DC to the Netherlands next month via Wow Air.  Wow is a bargain no-frills airline where you can get fairly cheap air tickets, but then have to pay extra fees for absolutely everything else.  And I mean everything.    I wouldn’t be surprised if you have to buy a ticket to use the toilet in flight.  A base ticket includes *one* carryon item (not one carryon bag + personal item, just ONE carryon period), of up to 11 pounds/5kg.  That’s it.

I’m traveling for work and have a tight budget, so I grabbed the cheapest ticket and figured I would make the best of it.  I bought a ScottEVest QUEST vest with 42 pockets so that I could shlep whatever wouldn’t fit in the bag on my person.  I made list after list after list of different combinations of clothing that would take me through the somewhat unpredictable Dutch summer (rain?  sure! hot? probably! But maybe also sixty degrees or thereabouts! whee!), *and* let me have options for both touring the city and sitting in work meetings/trainings for hours on end.  Plus, hopefully I’ll have time to ride a bike if I’m lucky.  Oh! And my iAmsterdam card comes with a free canal tour so I’ll also be on a boat part of one day.

HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAAAAAA!

One dry run and I realized that my awesome carryon isn’t actually a bag of holding.  Not  the best plan I’ve ever had.  I love my QUEST vest and will likely wear it regardless, but I’m not sure I want to try to lug around 20# of gear on my person across four international flights and two layovers.   (Although if I decide to, I totally can – you should SEE what fits in this thing!)  I also decided the sacrifices I would have to make to pull it off suck.  I don’t want to only bring one small Midori A5 grid notebook to take me through four days of sightseeing and six days of training and note taking.  I’m a journaling/planning/scrapping/note taking beast, and I should have known at the outset that was never going to work.

But the final straw?  Shoes. Did I really want to walk all over Amsterdam, Bruges, Den Haag, and Rotterdam in one single pair of shoes and hope for the best?

Yeah.  No way.

So, congratulations Wow Air!  You win.  I went back to my reservation information, logged in with my confirmation number, and purchased both additional weight for my carryon AND a checked bag. *And, since once I start spending money I’m like a monkey on a Mai Tai bender, I went ahead and reserved my seats too and picked nice ones that were either aisle or window.  Two are even “extra EXTRA legroom.”

Tickets aren’t so cheap now.  Meep.

But.  But.  I will be more comfortable both in the air and during travel.  If I had to make do with just the one bag while sitting in the middle of two other people in a tiny squished row I could have, but I didn’t have to and decided it was worth it to me to make the switch.  My back will thank me for having a change of shoes and for being able to get up and move around.  I will be able to bring a laptop now instead of trying to do all work on an iPad.* * If I want to pack some of my safe core travel foods I can.  I don’t have to worry about cracking the mask to my CPAP from trying to cram everything into one single bag the size of a reusable grocery tote.  I can bring one set of workout clothing, so that I can keep up with that aspect of self-care.  Win, win, win.

DH thinks I’m trying to talk myself into being happy with the decision, but I think I made a wise choice given my resources and the situation.  I can do frugal with the best of them, but austerity for the sheer sake of austerity?  Not a fan.
*I don’t know that I will end up bringing the checked bag, I dread having lost baggage during overseas travel – it has happened to me before – but now if I deicide to it’s no big deal.  

**I may still decide to just bring the iPad. I’m torn. Work is easier on the laptop, but boy is security easier without.  What would you do?

 

 

 

 

5 Must-haves for long flights

Long flights don’t have to be misery if you bring along a few creature comforts.  Here is a short list of must-haves that will make the experience better if not great.  (For a ‘great’ flight experience?  Book first class, or fly Emirates where Economy class includes full gourmet meals, free alcohol, wifi/phone, and 2500+ TV channels).

Compression socks

I own one pair of compression socks, and I break them out for air travel: these.  I put them on before I get to the airport, walk through security shoeless in them, and wear them on the plane to my destination.  My feet are warm but not hot, and when I get where I’m going I don’t have scary swollen ankles that you can push a finger into and leave a lasting dent.  Plus, these dry in no time so I can wash them in the hotel sink and repeat the process for the flight home.

Large pashmina shawl

I found a gorgeous pashmina in a thrift store and bought it even though I’m not usually a scarf girl.  Turns out it is perfect for air travel – it folds down into a small space (I can zip it into a quart ziplock), it adds some nice color to my grey and black travel staples, and it is the perfect blanket for flights.  I use it over the top of me when I’m cold, over my lap and legs before takeoff if I have stuck my purse behind my feet (shhh!  don’t tell!), even once over my face when the person next to me would NOT turn off his reading light on a redeye flight.   I can’t for the life of me find the same scarf to link to online, but if I had to replace it for some reason I would likely buy one or more of these. Right size, reviews are great, inexpensive, and gorgeous colors and prints.

Lush “toothy tabs”  and a travel toothbrush

I don’t want to have to mess with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush on a plane.  Maybe I’m just too picky, but I don’t want to dig around in my carryon for my toiletries ziplock etc.  Instead I use Lush’s toothy tabs. Sometimes if I’m traveling really light these are all I will bring in terms of toothpaste for the whole trip. They are ingenious little tablets about the size of a “smarties” candy.  You pop one in your mouth before you want to brush.  Chew it up into a paste, add water to your brush, and go.  They don’t foam as much as regular toothpaste but they do get your teeth clean and freshen your breath.  Some of them taste funky though (wasabi and mint?  lemon and pepper?), so if you are close to a Lush storefront maybe ask to sample. My favorites are “Dirty” and “Aquatic.”

Sea bands

I get nauseous just riding in a backwards-facing seat on the Metro so these are a must-have for me, but even if you don’t tend to get queasy pack these just in case.   If there is enough turbulence it’ll make anyone nauseous, and on long flights that means extended awfulness. Sea Bands go around your wrist like ugly bracelets of stomach-soothing wonder. I have no idea how they work, something about pressure points, but once in position they help prevent queasiness. Bonus: they also work for many women for morning sickness, so they can potentially do double-duty.

Milk Makeup’s “Cooling Water” stick

Since I get miserably dry on both hands and face on long flights, and since I hate rummaging through bags to try to find something while I’m at my seat, having the Cooling Water stick on my person is handy and helpful. Plus it does feel cooling – always pleasant, but if I am feeling icky from the plane being stuffy it helps a bit.  So far I haven’t been pinged going through security with it – it is solid enough that I have been able to keep it on my person.  (If this changes I’ll let you know.)  People with very dry skin, or headed somewhere cold, might want to check out the Hydrating Oil stick instead.