Our Least-Favorite Travel Tasks

Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again . . .

Without beating around the bush, our absolute least favorite travel chore is the process of getting us and our suitcases out to the airport (or train station) for departure. The reason this has become our least favorite is because:

  1. We first have to figure out transportation to the airport (or train station). This can be by bus, taxi, train or even walking, but it always involves having to wrangle our big suitcases and it almost always costs us something (the only airport/station we could walk directly to was in Florence).
  2. Our suitcases are heavy.
  3. Once we get to an airport there is often a long walk to our check-in counter, which may be hidden or difficult to find.
  4. There is sometimes no elevator or even escalator to get the bags to another level within the airport (we have a system for this though: Brett carries the first bag to the bottom or top of the stairs while I remain with the other; when he gets to the bottom we each leave our respective suitcase and run to switch places, then Brett carries the second bag to the where the other bag is. Yes, it’s exhausting.).
  5. There is always a slow-moving line at the check-in counter, or a long wait before we can begin check-in, and by the time we get this done we’re usually hot and thirsty.
  6. Once we get our bags checked, our departure gate often turns out to be an immense distance from the ticket counter and we still have our carry-on materials to haul. And, we have to go through security which is never pleasant.

Any or all of these situations can and have occurred on our travel days, which means that while we’re excited to go to a new location we know we’re going to have to work for it. We try to stay cheerful or at least even tempered, but it’s not always easy. I am already dreading next Tuesday’s ordeal, most especially because we really wish we weren’t leaving Japan.

Our second least favorite travel chore is packing, always a bittersweet task. You might think we’d feel happy to do this because it means we’re going somewhere new, but the truth is it also means we’re leaving someplace we’ve come to enjoy, or haven’t seen enough of, or never want to leave.

While I don’t enjoy living out of a suitcase, I also dislike trying to fit everything back into my suitcase when it’s time to leave a place we’ve stayed long enough to unpack. While Brett can get his stuff ready to go in a few hours, these days it takes me more than a few days to figure out what can go in early and what needs to stay out until the end, to get it right and make sure everything fits in the end. For example, right now we’re between seasons and from day to day it’s been hard to know whether I need to wear something warmer or something more summery, which is making my current sorting task a bit more difficult. Thankfully I don’t need my heavy coats any more so those are vacuum-bagged along with my heavy sweaters. But should I leave out summer clothes for the next few days (it’s very warm in Portland now)? Will it be too cool on the plane for summer things or should I wear something warmer? Or will it be hot here in Tokyo tomorrow or cool again and what should I leave out for the next few days? Temperatures have been on a roller coaster and we’ve been surprised (and miserable) on more than one occasion recently.

On the plus side, we’ve done a good job using up lots of stuff while we’ve been in Japan. This has cleared out room in our suitcases, but we’ve also picked up more things than usual during our stay here. We bought dishes at Kappabashi, and those will be going onto the plane with us in our travel tote bags to fit under the seat in front. We’re also taking back food items – the bottom of my suitcase is already lined with several packages of CookDo sauces. I bought two more pieces of clothing here that I need to make room for, Brett bought calligraphy supplies, and there are also other little odds and ends we’ve accumulated.

Hopefully we can get it all to fit into our trusty bags. Brett used to be in charge of packing his squadron’s cruise boxes whenever they went to sea and I’ve always said he can get a baby grand piano into a carry-on bag if he has to – I am depending on him to make sure everything fits and goes with us next week.

In the meantime, we’ve got four days to take care of our second least-favorite travel task and then face our least favorite once again. Wish us luck!

18 thoughts on “Our Least-Favorite Travel Tasks

    1. Until we took off on this journey we always traveled with carry-on only. But, the trips were shorter and we had a home to return to. We’ve been on a steep learning curve since we started this journey as we’re now each traveling with a large suitcase (duffel bags). I’d love to be traveling with only a backpack but it wouldn’t work for this type or length of travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I understand the bittersweet emotions you are going through. You had a lovely time with your family and got used to seeing the grands every day. It will not be easy I am sure. Packing is the worst. My sister is like Brett, me? Not so much.


    1. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye. Thankfully we immediately will have to go climb on a train full of people or otherwise I think I might collapse into a puddle of tears. We are going to miss them more than we know.

      I’m a pretty good packer, but it just takes me a while longer to get it done.


  2. Ahh, I feel your pain. I hate those tasks, too. My DH uses a backpack as his carry-on, and he’s able to fit a LOT into it (although probably not a baby grand…haha). He rolls his eyes, but will usually find a spot to stuff my two last minute additions that just. won’t. go. into my suitcase. All that said, we’ve never attempted to live out of our suitcases for more than two weeks, so I can’t imagine how challenging that would be. Good luck!


    1. Brett carries a backpack as well and it’s amazing what he can stuff in there. I’m actually doing better with my new rolling carry on – that thing carries a lot more than my backpack ever did. Brett is like your husband – he will take those last few things that won’t fit into my bag.

      I think from now on any time or anywhere we travel it will be for at least a month, so we can unpack and relax. It makes a huge difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate the trip to the airport too. I rarely sleep well the night before. Not from fear of flying or worry about the actual trip, but from the whole travelling to and waiting at the airport and from a fear something will go wrong on the trip to the airport and we will miss our flight.

    Good luck with the packing but make sure you enjoy your last few days.


    1. The airport trip and dance has become downright depressing, and leaving Tokyo is going to be epic. We will go by taxi to the train station (Shinagawa), ride the express train out to the airport and somehow get ourselves up two or three floors to the check-in counter and get our bags checked. We are dreading the experience. Once the bags are checked though we will be OK unless our gate is a zillion miles away (which happens more frequently than not).

      The packing is coming along, better than I thought. Of course there’s still a whole lot more to go and room is already at a premium.


  4. What you described is my least favorite part of traveling as well. That, and the jet lag! Hope you have a great few days in Tokyo.


    1. I did not mention the jet lag for a reason – I don’t even want to think about it!! After three months here the adjustment to PST is going to be epic, and not in a good way. We have a lot going on in Portland the first few days too and I’m so afraid we’re going to want to sleep right through it, or only be up in the middle of the night when nothing is open.


      1. I just found the Timeshifter app to help with reducing or negating jet lag. I guess astronauts use it. Seems pretty easy to use and has great reviews. I haven’t tried it myself but am looking forward to it soon. Happy travels!


      2. I have to look into this! Even a short trip to Japan disrupts my body clock something fierce; I can’t image what it’s going to be like after months of being in this time zone.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The thing about traveling I hate the most is dealing with everything at the airport. The whole experience is so stressful and unpleasant. I haven’t flown since last summer and I hear now the airlines make you pay for every little thing, so that will be my second least favorite part. It’s making me not want to go anywhere anymore! Anyway, enjoy these last days in Japan and with your family there. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and looking at all the photos.


    1. I’ve come to feel the same way about the airport experience. There’s a whole list of things that can mess with your experience and we seem to hit almost all of them. Still, we try to stay positive and accept that it’s only temporary. Tokyo is actually the worst in many respects though because the airport is so far from the city. Just getting there is a hassle, never mind all the stuff you have to deal with once you get there.


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