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:
- 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).
- Our suitcases are heavy.
- 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.
- 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.).
- 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.
- 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!