Posted by: hagengreen | January 30, 2010

Traveling in style

I enjoy occasionally travelling, especially when it comes to visiting locations of personal significance or new, interesting places in general. Last week I had the honor to recruit at the University of California at Santa Barbara (aka UCSB). While doing so is somewhat part of my job, it isn’t a requirement. Many people are envious, but little do they know I work double-time. My back-at-home job responsibilities don’t change (the work is still there waiting for me) and my obligations at UCSB are in-play nearly all day. At least I was able to enjoy the weekend despite the wet and stormy weather. By the way, when I left Seattle it was nearly 60 and sunny; I arrived to a mid-50s rainy Santa Barbara. Why didn’t anyone warm me?! (Ok, to be fair: Seattle had a record high that day and California was entrenched in a large storm.)

The tradeoff in getting to cool places like Santa Barbara is travelling via air. Yes, the good ‘ol airport and airplane. While the flight itself is just over 2 hours, it’s the process that wears on us. And every day there’s some terrorist-related news that makes it even more arduous. Or some airline didn’t (positively) surprise Wall Street, so they find another creative way to pick your pocket book. My pet peeve is the recent wave of baggage charges.

Delta, United and Continental airlines, and US Airways all are charging $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag checked in at the airport. Passengers who check in online on those four airlines will pay $23 for the first bag and $32 for the second. American does not offer online check-in.

Ok, ok Mr. Airline, you got us. I’ve always taken advantage of the baggage check-in option. Why would I want to carry my own luggage? I see people struggle to take their bags down the aisle as they enter the plane. Then they nearly injure themselves and surely others as they awkwardly manouver the bag into the overhead – 9 out of 10 times putting the wheels first. They always say put the wheels facing out and people don’t seem to get that. I try not to contribute to the madness, so I check my bag.

This has all changed with my last airline experience. I’m resolute to carry my own bag. I’ve convinced myself there are several key advantages:

  • I’ll pack lighter.
    I already considered myself a reasonable traveler, but now I’m happy to pinch clothing. Sure, I can wear that shirt twice. As long as there’s room for my running stuff, of course.
  • My stuff never leaves my hands.
    Would you trust your personal belongings to a set of strangers and not have access to it? I wouldn’t think so. Not only that, but how many stories have you heard about TSA stealing something from a bag or the bag getting damaged in transit? (You can’t tell me you’ve never had a zipper tab break off!)
  • It’s easier to get around once I’m at my destination since my bag is smaller and lighter
    Travelling shouldn’t be a burden. Lighter is almost always better. It’s easier to get around once you’re where you are. Lighter & less = simpler. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve done it, but simpler is usually better. But not too simple.

Beyond adding a carry-on to my travel arsenal, I’ve changed how I start my travel. As you know (and if you don’t, go read my other posts), I’m a bike nut. I cyclo-mmute to work every day. Going to the airport and cycling usually don’t go together so well. This time, I managed to get them to play nice together. Well, at least partially. I biked to work, only to get a ride to the airport. A little jerry rigging goes a long way. This was a first for me.

(Thanks to Matt for snapping these track-stance shots!)

The setup wasn’t bad weight-wise. It was more tricky with the higher center of gravity. I’ve had much more weight on my bike before. But that’s another story for another time.


So to all the cyclists out there: join me in travelling in style! Toss your bag on the rack and have fun with it. I look forward to going all the way to the airport in style.


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