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Pack light or pay up in Eagle County

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
HL suitcases RM 3-7-08
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If the bellman gets a hernia just looking at your suitcases, it might be time to start packing lighter.

Two major airlines are cracking down on the number of bags you can check for free. Come May 5, United Airlines and U.S. Airways will begin charging $25 to check a second bag. Previously, you could check two bags without racking up fees.

For travelers, the message is clear: lose that extra duffel bag or lose money.

“I think people are going to become smarter about their packing,” said Colleen McCarthy, owner of The Baggage Cheque, a luggage store in Edwards. “They’re going to learn to live with less.”

For women, shoes can be the downfall of efficient traveling. We pack every clunky boot and dainty heel, on the off chance we might be dispatched to an emergency runway show.

“We always want to carry more pairs than we need,” McCarthy said. “We just don’t like to leave anything behind.”

In reality, a spring breaker can suffice with a pair of sneakers, a pair of flip flops and “a nice, casual, sturdy shoe,” McCarthy said.

No room for that last pair of Tevas? No worries. Even budget travelers can afford to buy a pair of sandals overseas.

So says David Brown, an Indonesia resident who is visiting Edwards with his parents. He has traveled around the world five times.

“Buy stuff as you go along,” he said. “If you need another T-shirt, buy one. It’s so inexpensive. Don’t reserve yourself that when you’re packing, that’s all you’re going to use. Pick up stuff and discard stuff.”

Or better yet, recycle. Instead of hauling around her whole wardrobe, Vail Resident Christie Höchtl brings a few sink-washable pieces. That’s how she survived for a month in Europe with one small suitcase and a daypack.

Brands like Patagonia, Ex Officio and Mountain Hardware, which dry quickly and stay wrinkle free, work best for traveling, Höchtl said.

Once you have outerwear covered, don’t feel pressured to unload the contents of your underwear drawer into the suitcase.

“If you have three pair you’re fine because you can have one on, one clean and one you can wash and just hang up in the bathroom and it’s dry the next morning,” Höchtl said.

When it comes to packing clothes, two schools of thought exist: folding and rolling.

Höchtl rolls each piece of clothing, then wraps a rubber band around it.

“Then it’s virtually impossible to mess up your suitcase,” she said. “You can jumble through it, but nothing really gets messed up.”

Sebastian Arrese is a folder. A Peru native who is staying in Avon, he brought one suitcase and a single pair of shoes for the winter season. Folding the clothes is “better than just jamming them in whatever you’re using,” he said.

The travel aisle of the local supermarket is like the Land of the Little Horses in Gettysburg, Pa.

Things that are boring in life-size, like shampoo and shaving cream, are infinitely more exciting in miniature.

If you don’t want to buy an army of tiny liquids, you can try transferring your lotions and whatnot into small plastic bottles, Höchtl said.

Arrese packs shampoos he picked up at hotels or sample packets of products.

Unless you’re smuggling a family of eight across the border, ditch the bulky suitcase.

Most airlines charge extra for heavy bags. United Airlines, for example, slaps you with a fee if your bag weighs in over 50 pounds. That’s why starting out with a light suitcase is key, McCarthy said.

The latest luggage has polycarbonate frames, which are less hefty than the magnesium frames of yore, she said.

For a weeklong trip, McCarthy recommends a 22-inch-long carry-on suitcase that weighs about 7 pounds.

Because being crushed under your own suitcase is a bad way to start a trip.

“There’s a lot of people that take a suitcase I can fit in,” Höchtl said. “Why do you need that unless you’re moving across the country?”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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