Posts Tagged ‘rental cars’

The Problem With Luggage

October 5th, 2008 at 10:23 pm (AST) by Jake Richter

My excuse for having bigger and heavier luggage than the rest of my family is simply that I am bigger and heavier and thus my clothes take up more space and weigh more. I mass about 80% more than Krystyana or Linda, and am another foot or so taller than either of them. And Bas is far behind them, for now. I think I have a good excuse, but the rest of The Traveling Richters are skeptical.

But my own luggage aside, the single biggest challenge we all find in packing is that our trips tend to cross over a variety of climates and situations, meaning that for one part of a trip, shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts might suffice, while for another part of the same trip we might need heavy weight, all-weather jackets and hiking boots. And on top of that, we might also require elegant clothes for a formal dinner or event. And all that adds up to a lot of stuff and therefore a lot of luggage.

We have found only two viable solutions to this problem of lots of luggage. The first is to plan shorter, more distinctly targeted trips. But that’s just no fun. And besides, it can get quite a bit more expensive for all those extra plane tickets, and it wastes a lot of flying time having to revisit areas that are relatively near each other. The other solution – the one we have adopted – is to just find a way to cope with all the luggage.

But coping with lots of luggage, even if it’s mostly hand luggage, has a sort of domino effect. It affects a number of other variables in the chain of travel.

Probably the biggest impact we find with having lots of luggage applies to the size of vehicle we need to rent or hire for our journeys on terra firma. And the few times we have tried to economize and rent something like a four door full-size sedans, it has always caused problems.

And thus, today we find ourselves in yet another situation which might have been avoidable had we bit the bullet for an exorbitant rental fee for the size vehicle we wanted.

Several months ago, when we first started planning our Canadian Maritimes, we were looking for how we might be able to get from Halifax, Nova Scotia to the U.S.A., and discovered that we could actually rent a vehicle in Halifax and drive it all the way down Boston over four weeks. However, we also learned that for the rental fees involved, we could also afford to buy at least a couple of brand new Indian Tata Nano cars, except they don’t sell them in Nova Scotia as far as we know.

After working on a bunch of alternatives, we decided to rent a four door full sizes vehicle – something like a Ford Taurus – for the first two weeks our of journey, which would get us from Halifax to Bar Harbor, Maine, and there we would switch to a minivan to accommodate the shopping we’d inevitably end up doing along the way as well as having more space to carry family members during our end of the month reunions. Doing this saved us the price of one of those Tata Nano cars and we were pleased with our ingenuity.

We felt confident we could manage to pack ourselves such that all of our luggage and non-critical carry-ons could fit in the trunk of the full size car, but this morning, as we looked at what we packed as we checked in our luggage at the airport, we starting having doubts. Then we made the foolish mistake of letting the kids get new Dash roller bags at Brookstone’s in the Newark airport. Finally, as we waited for our flight to Halifax, we came to the realization that we would never manage to fit everything comfortably, or even uncomfortably, into the sedan we had waiting for us in Halifax.
We made a call to our travel agent to find out if we could upsize at this late date, but the prospects are looking dim – the next two vehicle sizes up are sold out, and the rental car company now will not rent us an SUV to be taken out of the country. Fortunately, we actually don’t need a rental car available until Wednesday morning, so that buys us a bit of time to find a solution. But at the present, we find ourselves set up for two weeks of driving in the Canadian Maritimes without a vehicle.

However, The Traveling Richters are up to just about any challenge, and surely we can overcome this one.

On a different note, during our nearly eight hour layover in Newark Liberty Airport, we rested, played some games (SET and Five Crowns – great family games), had a very nice steak lunch at Gallagher’s Steak House, and Bas enjoyed his first ever foot massage at the airport spa (and the rest of us had a variety of treatments too, of course).

It’s bed time here in Halifax, which is presently an hour earlier than the U.S. east coast, so that’s enough writing for today. More tomorrow on our travel travails.

Last minute update: The taxi from the Halifax airport to our hotel was a Lincoln Town Car, and we fit our luggage in that just right, so we’re having our travel agent hunt something that size down for us.