Feb 24, 2023

(+) Essential Things I Never Travel Without – Part #1

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I travel a lot. Before the pandemic, I traveled a lot more. In a 12-month period I once visited Iceland, Denmark, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and China, two trips to Salt Lake City, multiple trips to Massachusetts, and one trip each to Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as several Caribbean islands. I plan to add some more trips to the schedule is year. In fact, I am traveling to Salt Lake City next week.

Some of these trips are for business, but quite a few are for personal reasons. Several trips are to attend genealogy conferences. I also get to spend a bit of time researching my own family tree occasionally. Whenever possible, I try to combine business trips with a few days of vacation, especially when I have an opportunity to go to places I have never visited before. That includes most of my trips overseas.

I have become a fanatic on lightweight packing. Most of the time, I can squeeze all of the needed items into one carry-on suitcase that easily fits into an airplane’s overhead compartment plus an “over-the-shoulder” bag that fits under the seat in front of me. With today’s price-gouging by airlines for checked bags, use of carry-on luggage saves a lot of money. Besides, I don’t like dragging all that heavy luggage with me. In past years, I have wasted far too much energy wrestling with heavy suitcases on shuttle buses, taxis, and in rental cars. Never again.

On the few occasions when I do need to check a bag, I try to fly on Southwest Airlines (which offers two checked bags at no additional fee). Besides, Southwest seems to offer better service than most of the other U.S. airlines. However, that airline isn’t available on many overseas flights.

For overseas trips, most airlines allow at least one checked bag at no extra charge. However, I still fly with only a carry-on. I simply don’t want to be encumbered with lots of baggage.

Another benefit to traveling with only a carry-on bag is that it saves a lot of time. I no longer wait at the baggage carousel upon arrival at the destination airport. I am usually out the door at the airport much quicker than the majority of my fellow passengers. 

I have had checked luggage damaged by baggage handlers a number of times over the years, including once when my checked, nearly-new suitcase arrived on the baggage carousel split wide open with underwear and other clothing spilling all over the place. The hinges on the almost-new suitcase had been ripped off. That never happens with carry-on luggage.

Finally, the odds of losing bags are almost zero when the luggage never leaves my possession! I have never lost a suitcase when I carried it on board the plane.

The downside is that I do have to carry everything, which can be an issue if the bag is heavy. However, I don’t pack anything heavy. When I say I “travel light,” I do mean just that: nothing heavy in the bag! 

I do insist on being prepared for a research or writing opportunity. This means I need to carry a laptop computer (2.3 pounds), a tablet computer (one pound), an international cell phone that also functions as a wireless modem (five ounces), a USB charger for my devices (eight ounces), and still other assorted electronic components. When I expect to spend time researching my own family tree, I usually take a battery-powered scanner, which adds another seven ounces. However, my cell phone’s camera also serves as a rather good “scanner” when needed.

The result is some interesting conversations at security. I have had many TSA agents ask, “What is this?” However, in every case, the agent has been satisfied quickly with a one-sentence answer. In short, traveling with these electronic devices has never been a problem.

Over the years, I have made many trips to libraries, courthouses, and genealogy societies. Once I arrive at my destination, I often have found that I should have carried “one more thing” with me. I have now created a checklist of “things that I may need.” I always verify the genealogy trip packing list when packing my carry-on luggage. The list varies, depending on the purpose of my trip. If I plan to visit a cemetery in Maine to look for ancestors, my list will be quite different from that of a trip to a genealogy conference in New Zealand. For instance, I need bug repellant in Maine cemeteries but not in a convention center in New Zealand.

I thought I would share my packing list and also ask if you have further suggestions. I will list the things I might take on genealogy research trips as well as to genealogy conferences. 

The Carry-on Bag

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