Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Travel light


                                                   




Airlines seem to have a constant need for revenue.   Perhaps it's tied to the price of jet fuel.   Raising fares is a last resort, it seems, as customers have shown a reluctance to pay more and various search engines, like Kayak, facilitate finding an airfare by price alone.   Some countries have passed legislation requiring airlines to state the full, all-inclusive price of an airfare including taxes and surcharges.   This seems a positive move; previously the final price could be almost double the listed price.

But then there are the optional charges which are not required to be listed in the fare price.  Because they are optional and presumably avoidable, they are seen as fair game in the attempt to extract more revenue from travellers.  In a way it is similar to the included fixtures in some homes for rent or purchase in other countries.   North Americans might expect that appliances like a stove and refrigerator should be de rigeur but that just isn't the case.   So it is that food, especially on domestic flights, is not provided, headphones for listening to the on-board entertainment must be purchased, and, more recently, checked luggage attracts an additional charge.

As a longstanding  carry-on traveller I have researched various ideas and methods that could be used to avoid checking your suitcase.   Some are amusing, some border on ridiculous and some seem downright clever.    Families can box up and send their vacation clothing to their tropical destination via UPS or some other carrier.   If you are staying at the same resort for one or two weeks or more this can save you money.   Four or five family members, each checking a suitcase would amount to $250.  ($25 each way x 5).   It seems it is cheaper to ship a box or boxes back and forth as long as you don't need to travel beyond your shipping destination.

Then there's the suggestion of travelling with a carry-on bag (probably packed with your underwear) and upon arrival heading immediately to the nearest thrift store or charity shop.   For considerably less than the check luggage fee you and your children can purchase enough clothing to last a couple of weeks.   This reminds me of the character in Lee Child's book, whose title name escapes me, who bought a set of clothing, wore them for several days and then discarded them.  His busy life, tracking down notorious criminals, did not allow for time at the laundromat.

Tim Ferriss' blog (of 4 hour Work Week fame) which you can look at here   is pleased to provide a unique idea for avoiding ever checking luggage again:  Leave caches of clothing and even food at hotels you frequent. Seems to me it might require a large tip.

What about wearing all your clothes?    Check out this website, Jaktogo, for tips on how to wear all your clothes on your body when you fly.   Better hope the air-conditioning is working.  A more conservative version of this involves reversible clothing.   I suppose even the pants that zip off to become shorts and jackets that have sleeves that zip off to reveal a vest, reduce the amount of clothing required.

Will the day come when we pay our airfare by our body weight?  

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