My family and I have travelled to the Orient, Europe, England, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii and extensively in the U.S. Our number one rule is that you have to pack so you can carry all your gear on the plane. I have traditionally carried everything I need for up to ten days in a roller bag meeting airline carry-on regulations, a backpack and a fanny pack. I strap the fanny pack to my waist with my phone, money, and passport and only take it off at night to make sure my valuables and I are never separated. In a pinch, I can get the fanny pack into the backpack so I meet the two bag requirement of the airlines.
My two kids have been responsible for pulling their suitcases and carrying their back packs since they were old enough to travel. Fortunately, bags and backpacks come child- sized. Kids don’t bring many clothes. The ones they bring are tiny. When the kids where younger, their clothes went in the roller bags and their backpacks were full of entertaining objects such as coloring tools, paper, Gameboys, and playing cards. All of this has become passé with the advent of smart phones and iPods which entertain my children for hours. I see very young children playing with in airports now.
We made the decision to wean down our wardrobes and keep our luggage with us because of lost luggage leading to problems at our destination. Now we travel with our luggage to assist in making connections if we have to change itineraries, reducing the problems of dealing with lost luggage and trying to keep the price of travel down. Taking four us to Spain or Hawaii and paying luggage fees for everyone becomes extremely costly.
Recently, I have become the drag on our traveling caravan. I have a very rare neurological disorder. I can walk just fine (for which I am very thankful). But I can’t stand for any period of time without my legs starting to shake. At the same time the lines for airport security are growing, my ability to stand is diminishing.
When my son and I travelled from Florida to Boise in March, I had trouble at the Pensacola, Florida security check. We had waited a long time. I told the screeners I had trouble standing but I couldn’t get them to listen. When I walked through the scanner, the equipment showed me carrying weapons all over my body i.e. in my arm pits, waist band, bra, anywhere that moved as my legs shook. After a humiliating body check, I complained to the supervisor who said I should have told the initial TSA worker. I had, of course, done this. In fact, I had told two workers but they were too busy to listen. Given this experience, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands.
Flying home from Seattle a month ago, I received a text from Alaska Air that the lines at Seattle International Airport were two hours long. I asked for a wheel chair when I got to the airport. Once in the wheel chair, we zoomed right through the crowd. However, I was physically in better shape than the kind woman pushing the chair. As soon as I got into the boarding area, I was up walking around. I felt uncomfortable being pushed around when I’m perfectly capable of walking. Given the Florida and Seattle experience, I have done two things that I hope will improve my air traveling experiences.
The first is that I am now on the TSA priority boarding list. For a long time, I routinely got priority boarding but recently I have not. I am obviously not in a position to hope for the luck of the draw. I paid the $80 and scheduled the time to be fingerprinted. The next time I fly, I will enter my number TSA number and be able to skip the longer screening lines.
The second thing I have down is purchase the Jurni, a bag designed to be a carry-on but also to sit on (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jurni-the-ultimate-sit-on-carry-on-suitcase#/) My daughter, Kayla, found the bag online when the luggage was still only a concept on a go fund me page. If you put in the funds to help develop the proto type, you got the bag when they were ready to be shipped.
My bag arrived this week. As promised, I can pull it easily behind me and sit in it like a horse and scoot around the house. Now, rolling around a crowded airport may be a different thing altogether. Sitting on it like a chair is tipsy. I feel like I’m riding a rocky boat or I had too much to drink, a disconcerting feeling and the wheels can go out from under you throwing you to the floor. Thus, the bull rider approach with my legs anchored around the Jurni, I am in control of its movements for short distances. In other words, I would propel me along in a line.
The bag is tiny. I can see why it is designed for teenagers. My 16 year old daughter wears an extra small in most clothes and a size 0 in jeans. Until Kayla grew into these sizes, I actually thought they were pretend sizes to finish off the clothes rack. I remember standing in the Abercombie store when she shouted over the dressing room divider that the zero was too big and she needed a double zero. Really, a double zero! I wasn’t that small in grade school. Kayla could easily put a week’s worth of clothes into the little compartment designed for clothing.
I am not Kayla. While I am not enormous, I have grown heavier with age. The possessions I notice that now take up the most room are my bras which have grown geometrically since giving birth and breast feeding. The movement up to a D was bad enough but now on the downward slippery slope of aging, my circumstance is 2 inches bigger and I need wire armor to keep my cascading physique in place. The same is true of my swimming suit which used to be teenie weenie but now takes up the space of a small sea monster in order to pull me in all the right places and hold up those previously mentioned descending upper body parts. Deciding what to take and purchasing travel clothes that meet all your needs while fitting everything in small compartments takes significant planning. My first thought when I looked in the Jurni was I was going to need to work on loosing more weight and buying a new smaller traveling wardrobe (double zero, here I come!)
The good news is that the Jurni knows it’s packing compartment is tiny and for an extra cost has included zip bags to scrunch all my jumbo items into the size of my daughter’s size small. I tested the feasibility of utilizing the Jurni for a real trip rather than riding around my living room by laying out the wardrode I took to Mexico in January and seeing if I could fit it in the case. Much to my amazement, I got 3 pairs of long pants, 3 long sleeved shirts, 4 short sleeved shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, the iron maiden bra and sea monster swimming suit plus rash guard jacket, my traveling pjs (light weight), my wash out panties (3 pairs) seven pairs of white cotton socks ( I always wear socks with my hiking shoes) and a pair of flip-flops. I actually called them thongs (my daughter was horrified). Appparently, thongs were shoe wear in the seventies but are strickly underwear in the twenty first century.
The little plastic buttons on the Jurni that serve as openers seemed a little stressed by my wardrobe. I am now on the look-out for a band to go around the Jurni once packed. The company sells a check-in strap and lock. But the strap goes from top to bottom and prevents you from utilizing the pull up handle. I would also be sitting on the buckle which seems weird to me. I want something that goes around the middle, doesn’t interfere with the handle but guarantees that the iron woman underwear is not strewn all over the run way as I board a miniscule Alaska Airline plane where all carryons are actually always loaded under the plane.
I can’t provide a full evaluation of the campabilities of the Jurni until it actually goes with me on a journey. That may be a few months off. After jaunting all over the world and the U.S. the past few months, we are spending our summer in the Mountain West. Afterall, why go any place else when you are already there.