Long before people were restricted to life in a carry-on bag, travel was an exhilarating experience and was considered to be quite a glamorous endeavor. Of course this was prior to you having to put your liquid life support in a tiny ziplock bag and sit in seats designed for infants. Back then, it was also outrageously expensive and reserved just for those who had lots of money to burn. In the ’50s you could see movie stars in Kings Cross or Grand Central station. Steamships carried travelers around the world to wild and exotic colonial destinations. When the era of commercial airlines arrived in the ’60s, travel became easier and somewhat cheaper, but was still in the realms only of those with money.
Then in the ’70s some clever airline executive came up with the brilliant idea of making tickets prices so cheap that even the guy on the street corner asking for spare change could get a flight to just about anywhere. Of course when an airline makes the cost of a ticket as cheap as chips, they have to do away with every bit of comfort and human decency, and then on top of that charge extra for everything.
The rules of travel have changed.
You can now get from London to Vienna for less than it costs to take a train to Manchester. But you need to prepare yourself with the mindset of riding a bus. If you can get past the idea that travel is no longer as glamorous as it was, and you can fit your life in a 55 x 40 x20-centimeter bag that weighs less then 10 kg, then there is no reason not to zip off to Paris this coming weekend.
There are of course benefits to using only carry-on luggage. You never need to wait ages to check in a bag or wait at those inevitably noisy carousels while everyoneelse’s bag goes round and round. But it also happens that you may be told that your carry on is too big on a return flight even though it is exactly the same as it was on your outgoing flight. I kid you not, this has happened to us.
Do you really need all of it?
So how does one fit their life into such a tiny bag? And is it really worth it to try and smuggle your slightly oversized carry-on past the luggage police? Every time we go to the gate to board a flight we get nervous that the girl with the measuring tape will stop us. Much like every time you drive through a drunk driver test area, you pray that they won’t stop you, even though you know you only had one glass of wine 4 hours ago.
As performers, we travel an awful lot. So, in the interest of making flying more fun, we have come up with a few ideas to make life easier when flying.
First and foremost: always smile at the luggage gestapo, and stick hard to the attitude “I am very well traveled, and my bag is just perfect, thank you.” Secondly, always use a soft shell bag, which is way easier to jam into the minuscule suitcase tester apparatus located near the gate, looking suspiciously a bit like a medieval torture device. Third, when you are done packing your bag at home, take half of the stuff out, and leave it at home. You don’t REALLY need it, and you’ll need somewhere to stash your purse when getting on the plane. Besides, if you really, REALLY need it, just wear 10 layers of clothing.
And our last bit of advice? Choose a real airline. One that gives you carry-on space and a free check in bag too. One that serves you something to eat, FOR FREE, during the flight. Sure, it may seem more expensive, but after you add up the cost of getting to and from airports 70 miles from where you want to be, the cost of an in-flight meal, 30 pounds extra for a check in bag and that pesky little habit they have of charging you for paying by debit card (the so-called admin fee) then the cost is nearly the same. Sometimes even less. And you don’t have to live like a vagabond out of a carry-on bag.