When Packing Light Goes Wrong

Surely everyone knows that, given the fees airlines like to charge for checked or in some cases even carry-on luggage, the ability to pack light can mean saving a few bucks. That’s why my wife and I have been adamant about keeping the number of bags we bring with us on our travels to a minimum. Considering we’ve been able to get by on week-long trips with just a single carry-on and a couple of personal items, I think we’ve been pretty successful in this goal — but we also might have grown a bit cocky.

This past week, we found ourself on a fairly last-minute trip to Paris. Having visited a few times before and with the total length of our stay coming it at just over four days, we barely gave much a thought to packing. In fact, we actually had our main bag ready to go a few days early. Unfortunately, despite us both checking weather reports ahead of time, we went wrong somewhere along the way.

We should have known we were in for an interesting trip when we took off for Paris from Chicago O’Hare during a snowstorm. Yup — despite the calendar reading April 27th, we were delayed nearly 45 minutes so that our plane could be de-iced (the fact that this was the only delay we encountered on a day that saw 700+ flights canceled is something to be thankful for and there’s a lesson in there about scheduling a long layover… but I’ll save that for another day). With that hint of wacky weather setting the tone, image our surprise when we arrived in France to find that our thin hoodies were not sufficient in the lower 40s weather. It turns out that, while the highs were projected to be in the 60s, the lows that would hang around for the majority of the day were quite a bit chillier.

After making it a couple of days with just the clothes we had packed, it was a late night party we had scheduled at Disneyland Paris that finally convinced us we would need to subsidize our layers. Luckily the mall near our hotel housed a Uniqlo where we were able to find some hats and scarfs in the clearance section. Nevertheless, our lack of planning meant spending an extra 30€ on items we already had at home.

Adding insult to injury, it’s funny to note that, since this was an international flight, we actually could have checked a bag for free — not to mention that we were also entitled to another carry-on. Plus, it’s not like hats, gloves, or scarfs take up that much luggage space as we were clearly able to transport them back without issue. In other words, there’s really no excuse why we didn’t pack these essentials to begin with.

The moral of the story is, no matter how many times you’ve traveled before or how nice it is to not be bogged down by extra luggage, it’s worth giving a second thought to your plans. Whether that means double-checking both the highs and lows at your destination or prepping for the unexpected, you just might save yourself some trouble in the long run. As for us, you can bet our new winter accessories will become standard features in our suitcases.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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