Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Buy Well to Pack Lighter

For a few years I've been running travel gear reviews on this Practical Travel Gear blog. I was stressing the need to pack light long before USAir started the trend of charging money to lose your bags and American showed even more contempt for its customers by charging for anything you check. Now the game has gotten serious and you really have to consider the cost of gear verses the cost of carrying it. Will that purchase help you save money---or will it cost you more money?

When you backpack around the world, you are thinking about this all the time of course, since you have to carry the load on your back. It doesn't take long to start cursing those blue jeans and the pair of shoes you really could have done without. Even a hardback book starts seeming like an extravagance.

On vacation though, it is easier to overpack. You have a wheelie suitcase maybe, lots of helping hands, luggage carts, and taxis. And before, you could just check your bag if it got too heavy or too big.

As I splurged far more than I ever normally do on a Air Strip Lite shirt from Ex-Officio for my current trip to Canada, I realized that I'm starting to look like those Korean travelers I used to make fun of: the ones who couldn't go on a hike or go skiing without buying all the latest and greatest custom-purposed outfits first. I've got the quick-dry underwear, the quick-dry wicking shirts, the zip-off convertible pants, the lightweight multi-purpose shoes. Throw in double-duty gadgets like the Chargepod and the Eagle Creek Money Belt and I start looking like a Magellan's catalog.

But you know what? I can pack for a two-week trip in a carry-on if I need to, which is the name of the game these days. It now pays to pay more for the right travel clothing. It weighs less, it washes easily, it dries fast, and it will usually last longer.

Plus the double-duty gear does more than one thing while taking up less space. The miniature gear does more in a smaller package.

Plan ahead, buy the right stuff, and you'll move through airports for less hassle--and fewer extra fees. I'm on the road trying out lots of new stuff right now actually, but with my family, so these posts will be a bit less frequent for the next two weeks.

See all quick-dry, lightweight clothing from ExOfficio.

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