Travel Bags

I will be taking more than a dozen separate flights on this book tour, starting tomorrow, which means more than a dozen opportunities for an airline to lose my luggage plus several hours of loitering by baggage claim waiting for my bag to show up. For that reason I have packed everything I need for the next two weeks in these carry-ons. The green carry-on here has clothing for ten days in it; the backpack has everything else. Midway through travels a considerate friend of mine is letting me use his washer and dryer. Thus: No large bags. It does help that I am a science fiction writer and thus am allowed to show up at appearances in jeans and a funny t-shirt; no respectability required.

The only catch is that I have not packed my suit for the Nebulas; I’m going to have my wife mail that to my hotel when I get there. I suppose I should tell my wife I need her to do that for me.

32 thoughts on “Travel Bags

  1. Uh oh, fans know what your luggage looks like. Watch out for groupies trying to steal! Ha ha

  2. Do you want us all to leave a note on her facebook page to remind her? God knows what outfit could be waiting you for the Nebulas if we did.

  3. Suggestion, if you haven’t already done so – put a change of socks, shirt, and underwear along with your toiletry bag in the backpack. That way, when you have the inevitable flight where the overheads are full by the time you board, or you’re on an RJ that has no room in the overheads for a rollaboard, thus giving the airline that one opportunity to lose your rollaboard – which you know that they will capitalize on – you’ll still have a change of clothes for the next day…

  4. I recommend getting luggage made out of sapient pearwood. Makes many things so much easier.

  5. DGL: It’s fortunate that a Science Fiction author can go to a signing in only socks, shirt, and underwear.

    Pants are optional in the future :)

  6. What, you’re not just going to assume she’ll read it on your blog? Maybe you should put it on your twitter feed to make sure, and then relax and assume it’s taken care of?

    (Not a serious suggestion. Neither one.)

    Actual more serious comment: on the assumption that you read a lot, and try to do some sort of writing while travelling, what do you pack to facilitate either or both? Nook or Kindle, or actual paper? or iPad? Chrome or netbook or laptop? Again, or iPad?

  7. Might I suggest instead of telling, you take the tack of “O glorious wife who puts up with me and has borne me a daughter, if, in your infinite patience and love you could do me the favor of mailing my suit to me I would be forever grateful.”

    While she’s collapsed laughing you might get her to agree to just about anything.

  8. My boss has that problem lately…he’ll give me detailed directions for things to do in replies to a multitude of folks, BUT forget the all important step of adding the “cc: my faithful assistant” to the distribution list.

    As I told him yesterday, you have to hit the “Wendy-do” button if you actually want Wendy to do things! It was pretty funny and apparently amused him as well.

    Also, the flaw in your plan is by carrying on your bags, you give airport security more chances to riffle through your unmentionables.

  9. If you haven’t already, you may want to check with the hotel and see if they’ll take and hold packages in advance of you checking in. Then you don’t have to be quite as tight on the timing for shipping. I did this a few years ago when I didn’t want to carry around 3 suits and nice shoes for the two week vacation I was taking before a conference.

  10. If you want advice for traveling light by a guy who has thought way too much about the topic, take a look at One Bag. It’s just what it sounds like. He talks about how to live out of one carry-on sized bag for the rest of forever.

  11. Happy trails John. I hope all you flights are on time and the TSA doesn’t single you out for the next episode of security theater.

  12. Warren @#7 – I know John has a nook, but I don’t know what computer he takes with him on the road.

    John, the suggestion to keep socks, shirt, and underwear in the backpack is a good one when taking so many flights. I’m guessing you have done some trips like this before. If you have Elite status on an airline you will get to board early enough to get your rollerbag in the overhead. As far as regional jets are concerned, I have never had a problem with a gate-checked bag not getting to me when I arrived, but I suppose it could happen.
    Another suggestion, which you probably already know: Keep prescription meds in your backpack.
    May you have safe travels and clear skies.

    P.S. – I have been on some trips like yours. One time was 13 different hotels in 13 different cities in 14 days. It got to the point where I had to take the little envelope the hotel key came in with me when I left the room, as I could no longer remember what my room number was.

  13. I travel about 30% of the time for business and I’ve always liked the Rick Steves’ luggage. I use the Avanti rollabout for all short trips (3day/2nights). http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/411YejoZJqL._SX385_.jpg

    I can get my Kindle + my laptop & all the must-have electronics, chargers, cables, etc. 2-pair dockers, 2 polos, 1 pr shorts/warmups, a t-shirts, 2 pair socks, 2 pr underwear, toiletries, It has 2 side pockets for things bought in airport like water, snacks, etc. I even have room left over for couple of manila folders worth of documents, I rarely use all the available space. If I carry a separate soft-side laptop bag…I can get an 2 extra days clothes. It fits in all overheads with the exception that a 4 night pack won’t fit in the very smallest puddle-jumper commuter planes. I gate check then–or suck up to the flight attendant to get it into a closet.

    I have to dress nicer than sci-fi writers so I think you could easily get a 3rd day of clothes in it and still have room for necessary electronics.

  14. For people wanting to travel light: One Bag is an excellent place to start since it gets you thinking but it tries to cover everything. For people just starting out the real trick is to dump absolutely everything you think you might need onto the bed so you’re less likely to miss something, then start paring down. Once you’ve had to pack a few too many times it’s more “bother. That shirt looks hideous with this other thing. Better swap it out” especially if you’ve given up and simply gotten duplicates of the power cords, hairbrush, etc.

    Scalzi, if you need a quick load of laundry done when you get here drop me, or someone else local, a note. An author at the end of a book tour? Whew!

  15. #11: “key to carry-on formal attire is the dickey.”

    If you refuse the full body scan they will rumple your dickey.

  16. Phil @# 14 – Delta managed to lose a gate-checked carryon of mine between Newark and Miami. I think it rattled around the bowels of Hartsfield for a week before surfacing just before I mailed in the permanently-lost-luggage claim.

  17. DG – Hartsfield Jackson International recently lost my bag between the gate and baggage claim. Delta could tell me it came off the plane, but not where it was. After the mandatory 2 hour wait I filed a claim and headed for the train to my house.

    Just as I turned the corner for the exit I glanced at the carosel…you guessed it, there was my bag going around the corner. When I went back to let them know, the clerk says “oh, good, we found your bag!” I glared at him and let him know the I found the bag. They had no idea where it had been all that time! Yeesh.

  18. #14: Gawd, do I hate traveling on a schedule that’s gonna take me past a Sunday evening! I’m on a lot of “maintenance” meds, so I get them all through mail order. This means they all arrive in containers the size of small wine casks (I jest, but not by much!). Sunday evening is when I refill my weekly pill containers for the following week. I finally found a couple of small pill containers that have one AM and one PM slot, so I’m covered through Tuesday PM, but after that it’s either buy more of those or pack all my large pill bottles. As you noted, they’d have to go in my carryon stuff since I’m not about to give TSA/Continental/United the chance to lose my meds, and a half dozen containers in mail-order size eats up a significant amount of space.

  19. Safe travels, John, and may your towel always be within reach when needed. Hope to see you this Sunday!

    For those who wish to travel lightly, allow me to commend Tip #3: Luggage from this post by Charlie Stross[*], who refines the tenets of One Bag.

    [*] You just don’t mess with someone who routinely assesses the mass of their travel accessories in grams. ;^)

  20. Euh… why don’t you just take clothes for 2/3 days… and use the laundry service at the hotels you’ll be staying at?!?

    That way you could even have a hand luggage that you would keep with you at all times!

    That’s what I do, and it works wonders.

  21. Because then I could spend close to $100 on laundry over the length of my tour, based on the laundry service charges at a sampling of my hotels, and that seems excessive.

  22. John, I agree about the charges for the hotel to do the laundry. They send it out and it is expensive – plus it takes a whole day and you may only be in the hotel for one night. Many hotels have a coin operated washer and dryer (like a teeny, tiny laundromat), but who wants to take the time to fit that into an already busy travel schedule? Besides, I don’t think I would like to wear the same two shirts on alternate days for two weeks straight (and you would wear out your “BrainPal inside” t-shirt really fast). Variety is good.

    DG@19 – You’re right, it can happen. Not a surprise, just not common. Also, when the unload the bag they sometimes throw them from the plane to the ground – smash! I’ve seen them bounce bags off the carts. One of the problem with gate check is that the speed with which you are reunited with your bag depends on the airport and the arrival gate. Sometimes they don’t have a good process for getting the gate checked bags from the plane to the passengers waiting in the jetway. I fly on Delta all the time because I live in Minnesota and go out of the Delta hub at MSP (used to be Northwest). Delta definitely has issues. They are rated pretty far down for US airlines. I had real trouble last week in Texas with American for some reason. In fact, it was so bad that when I was finally on a flight back to MSP from Dallas I told my seat mate that things had been so bad that I was actually wishing I had been on Delta. That got laughs from all those sitting around us.

  23. personally I’d think that:

    a)$100 would be money well spent to travel light for several weeks
    b) marketing/publisher would pay it – obviously I don’t know how these things work – but if Tor is paying for flights/hotel this would fall under “incidentals”

  24. I love my Norm Thompson Travel Suede blazer for dressing up jeans and a t-shirt while I’m traveling. I mean, yeah, I can also wear it with a shirt and tie, but mostly I love that it can spend 25 hours wadded up in the bottom of a carry-on and come out of it without a single wrinkle. I have no idea how that works, but it does. And when it gets, say, baby spit up and reese’s peanut butter cup smeared all over the sleeve, it’s machine washable. Both of those are actual scenarios.

    I have no financial interest in the company at all (and don’t care for most of their clothing), but I think everyone who has to live out of a suitcase for more than a day or two could use one of these jackets.

  25. Jasonmitchell:

    1. One carry-on bag is pretty much traveling light as it is;

    2. I sort of feel I shouldn’t make my publisher pay $10 for each pair of pants I want cleaned.

  26. John, something I’ve always wondered about going on tour like this: are you basically on your own? Other than getting the tickets, which I think you have said your publisher takes care of, do you just get off the plane, rent a car, go to the hotel, go to the bookstore, back to the hotel, back to the airport, repeat? Or does someone meet you there, take you where you need to be, etc?

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