Sunday, June 5, 2011

Study Abroad: Choosing Luggage

This post continues my series to help students get ready to study abroad. Here I focus on luggage in a future post I'll detail more about what to actually pack in your luggage.
Chances are you have several pieces of luggage you can use but they may not fit current airline regulations. Check your airlines website well in advance for measurement restrictions and weight guidelines. Most airlines you can have two bags that each weigh 50lbs. Check how much your current suitcases weigh when empty then you know how much weigh you actually have to work with. The suitcases my family has were bought before the new airline regulations on average weigh 15lbs when empty! That would only give you 35lbs for the stuff you want to pack.

If you have the money you want to invest in a good set of luggage that weighs as little as possible. In my research I found Eagle Creek's hovercraft line to weigh the least. I’m also a neat freak when it comes to organization on a trip so Eagle Creek’s pack it system of zippered cubes, and folding squares worked well for me. I also found out Eagle creek makes compression sacs like space saver bags only you don’t need the vacuum to use them. These saved me some space. They are great for items that are full of air. For example I compressed a twin size pillow as flat as a pancake, once you open the bag it puffs right up with no damage. 

Use unique luggage tags to help you quickly identify your bags on the luggage carousel my luggage has Texas A&M tags because it’s not likely anyone in Israel will have that kind of tag. I also recommend purchasing luggage locks make sure it says travel sentry somewhere on them. Mine are also Eagle Creek they are three number combination locks you set the combination and can change the combination whenever you want to. They have a key hole that airport security has the key to so they can search your bag relock it and no one else can get into it. It can also be good for locking up valuables in your dorm after you arrive if you need to. 

The wardrobe in the room is very small that’s where your compression sacs can come in handy. You can store off season clothes in the compression bags where they will be protected from dusts and moisture and slide them under the bed. Note that the beds may not have enough room under them to store your luggage. My suitcases are different sizes from the hovercraft line so I can store them one inside the other to take up less floor space.  I started to pack my luggage a week before I had to leave. This is so I could pack and weigh each suitcase multiple times to make sure I didn’t go over the weight requirements.
  Even if you are not going to study abroad this can be a fun philosophical exercise and you can learn more about yourself. Pretend you are going to live in another country for at least a year. You can only take 100lbs of stuff. At least 50lbs will be devoted to clothing and shoes. What would you use the other 50lbs for? For me personally most of my other 50lbs went to books.  I did get a kindle so I could have more books with me but some of my scholarly books are not yet available for the kindle. Some of the books just wouldn’t be the same on kindle, my Life Applications Study Bible for example I have made notes in the margins of it and I would miss It too much if I had to leave it behind. You can tell I’m a bible scholar though because there were two other translations of the bible I have that I wanted to bring with me but couldn’t.

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