Does sweat count as a carry-on liquid?

Due to having a family on the other side of the globe and a job on the other side of the country, I end up traveling a decent amount. I like to think I’ve got it figured out. When I strut through the airport in my long black coat, with my cute purse and my laptop slung over my shoulder, I almost believe it. I actually feel and look for all the world like a true seasoned traveler.

That is until I have to do anything other than walk directly forward with a known destination. As soon as I even break my gait it becomes painfully obvious that I’m not in fact a seasoned traveler – I’m a fumbly mess with no control over my possessions or my limbs.

Let me paint you a typical scene: as I approach the security line my too-full purse starts to slip off my shoulder, throwing off my tea-carrying arm and sending hot milky tea splashing all over my pretty black coat. Suddenly I can’t find the ID I just slipped into my bag for easy access so I have to excuse myself from the line to unload everything off of my arms and dig through my bag in earnest. When I finally find it, I have to hastily gather up my assortment of belongings – my cute purse now bulging in an awkward shape and stabbing my back – and sheepishly get back in line. A businessman, looking very calm and slightly amused, lets me in with a wave of his arm (noticeable unburdened with crap).

Now repeat in various forms throughout the airport experience, with pieces of my belongings falling off or falling apart in turn. I always end up covered in sweat and hoping no one gropes me at security (which they did).

This trip has a new challenge – I didn’t check in a bag. Impressive, I know. It wasn’t easy – this plan has been in the works for months now, requiring specialized equipment, detailed spreadsheets, and outside consultants. At times it seemed so hopeless I nearly gave up, but lured by images of perfectly efficient travel I pressed onward.

Clothing was picked with the precision of a NASA mission. Every square inch counted. What makes this trip extra tricky is that I’ll be spending half of it in an office, and the other half visiting friends. If a piece of clothing wasn’t versatile enough to be worn for both, it didn’t come with me. (A tube-top is work appropriate right? With trousers of course.)

The liquids restrictions are the hardest. I feel like they are a special attack on women and contact lens wearers. Luckily a couple of months ago I found a tiny plane-sized version of my contact lens solution and immediately purchased it in anticipation of the mission. It cost practically the same as a full sized bottle, but I knew there would be sacrifices along the way. I was prepared for this.

The next challenge was hair products, which in the end had to be eliminated from the equation all together – I just bought a cheap bottle of mousse on arrival.

Luckily, most of the other supplies I need to maintain myself are already in tiny, security-friendly containers (I’m sure this is what the cosmetics company was thinking when they put my lotion into a 23.5 ml container, because I can’t think of any other logical reason. They are so thoughtful!).

Now here I am, with my purse and my ‘little’ carry-on suitcase hopefully containing everything I need for the next seven days.

I won’t lie, walking off the plane and heading directly to the outside world – right past all the suckers waiting at the luggage carousel – was one of the best moments of my life. But I’ve since had to face the hard reality that it may not have been completely worth it.

Turns out it’s actually kind of handy to have the airline carry your crap for you.

In exchange for those twenty or so minutes I saved, I nearly killed a small child and took out several other people trying to hoist a bag that weighed about a quarter of my weight into an overhead bin that is literally over my head! Normally this might be ok (like I said, sacrifices had to be made), but what really pushed it over the edge was re-tweaking my persistent shoulder injury yet again.

And for what? I’m never rushing off to anything pressing straight from the airport – just to my hotel room, where I spent the evening lounging around in my pajamas, checking out the cute little bottles of shampoo, and attempting to arrange the twenty or so pillows on my bed into the most comfortable arrangement for watching a mini-marathon of Till Debt Do Us Part.*

Yes, keeping track of my possessions at the airport is already a significant challenge for me (more on that tomorrow… or maybe the next day), so I’ve now learned it’s best to offload the responsibility as much as possible.

*This might be a strictly Canadian show so I’ll explain – it’s where they have a personal finance expert help couples who are absolutely terrible with money get their act together. Like they eat out so much they don’t even own plates kind of terrible! I mainly love it for the first 10 minutes where the host picks apart their spending habits. Guaranteed to make me feel very good about myself.

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Posted on March 22, 2011, in Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m always over-estimating how much I can carry when traveling and then bumbling around. I never check anything and it works, but I hate that checking costs enough to make it matter.

    I’ve found that buying travel-bottles for stuff like shampoo is really helpful because I don’t have to buy small sizes, which cost more. I also get free travel-size contact solution at my eye exams which is nice!

    Glad to hear it’s not only me. :)

    • With the two major airlines in Canada, checking a bag actually doesn’t cost anything… so I was just trying to make my life complicated for no reason other than the sheer thrill of it ;-)

  2. Last year, I took my first long trip (15 days) without checking a bag. you are right– that feeling of walking straight past baggage claim is wonderful. I enjoyed it so much, that I did it again a few weeks ago for 24 days (which included 2 countries and a wedding…a bit of a challenge). But I will do it again, I am sure…I like the feeling of freedom because I feel like I can handle my luggage better this way. Me and my backpack and over the should bag can go up the stairs or hop on a metro or whatever. Ah… (Of course, hand washing clothes in the sink is a little less fun, but it’s a trade off.) :)

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