How do You Pack for Two Years in Three Bags
With most airlines limiting passengers to one carry-on bag and two checked items, we felt a little overwhelmed by the task of packing all of the life belongings we would need for two years in a foreign country, into just three little bags. (Must have been akin to how some of the SARC varsity women felt while packing for the weekend trip to the Head of the Charles last fall — You know who you are!) Then there’s the weight limit, so even with the space saver bags, skillful and selective packing and a little (read: sitting on the suitcase to zip up) cramming, meeting the bag limit doesn’t save you from the excess weight fees.
While packing I remember that sinking feeling that I was forgetting something and yet at the same time the sense that I was bringing so much stuff “just in case”. Thankfully we were packing for only one climate (perpetual summer in KL), because if we had to include sweaters, coats and jeans…I don’t know what we would have done. Even packing for just warm weather was tough enough!
Once it was all zipped up and accounted for, here’s what it looked like — what we thought we would need / get by on / successfully bring with us…for two years (and I thought packing for 4 months was hard while studying abroad in college):
At the first Delta counter, we were informed by a less-than-friendly clerk that our total fees for one excess bag, and two excess weight fees would be $600. Yikes! We were expecting to pay something, but with multiple calls to Delta and Singapore Air, and lots of web surfing on the issue we could not get a consistent answer of the amount of the fees and whether we’d be subject to Delta’s rules (our airline from Atlanta to Houston) or those of Singapore Air (Houston to Singapore). Still, $600 seemed high.
So we repacked right there in the airport, moving items around to redistribute weight and minimize the fees. Then we also decided to try a different counter/clerk on principal alone that the first guy was downright rude. Meanwhile, I also found a discrepancy on the airline’s website (thank you, iPhone) and brought it to the attention of the 2nd clerk. He was very nice, helpful and while very understanding…also could not give a definitive answer about whose fees would apply and for how much. Finally, after several calls and lots of waiting he calculated the lowest possible combination based on published fees, which totaled $217! We were happy to pay a third of the original number. (Travel Tip #1: Avoid ridiculous fees by doing your homework and arguing your case. Don’t settle for the first answer.)
Our clerk then handed us our boarding passes…oh, about 5 minutes or so before check-in for that flight closed! So we hurried to the parking garage, and took a few minutes to say good-bye to Dennis, Martha and Henry who drove us to the airport…
…and headed back through security and to our gate, unaware of the adventure awaiting us and our bags.