March 10, 2011

Luggage Savings and What's In My Bag

Our travels to New Zealand, took about a week so we could visit friends and family. We travelled to Vancouver, British Columbia > Calgary, Alberta > Edmonton, Alberta > Toronto, Ontario > back through Vancouver > Auckland, New Zealand > Palmerston North (random landing due to wind) > and finally, Wellington. It was both the K-man's and my first international trip, and with moving all the items we own (not much other than clothes at this point) it was a challenge to say the least when it came to packing.

I managed to get that pile from here, down a bag, all folded and organized. To help save costs on lugging our bags from Vancouver across Canada, and then back to Vancouver, we found a luggage storage facility at the Vancouver airport. It cost $6 per bag, per day, plus a $15 pick-up fee, not bad considering it saved us over $300 on the extra baggage fees the airlines would have charged! We stored the majority of our items, and kept 2 suitcases on us to take across Canada.

Our itinerary to New Zealand, included flying Air Canada from Toronto to Vancouver (domestically) then changing planes and terminals, to board our international leg on Air New Zealand. We then had to transfer in New Zealand from Auckland to Wellington. To make sure there were no issues to check-in luggage at our stopover (Vancouver) I called the airline to confirm, and then had to use the the special luggage line at the airport counter in Toronto to "short-check" our 2 suitcases that we took to visit family. This step ensured these 2 suitcases would not transfer directly to Wellington. If we didn't ensure this luggage was short-checked, then we would not have been able to check-in our stored luggage. It was a bit complicated and used up a lot of time during the stop over, but the savings made it all worth it.

The K-man looks a wee bit too excited to carry the luggage, or maybe he's just delirious from all the flying...

Vancouver Airport

Another savings with the luggage was my frequent flyer status with United (though we flew on Air Canada and Air New Zealand) My status provides extra baggage allowance, so with all this flying around to visit family, we only paid for one suitcase for one part of the trip. More savings! When you fly, ensure you sign up for frequent flyer points, and try to use the same airline as much as possible to rack up miles. Most programs accumulate miles over an annual period, so with a bit of pre-planning you could easily rack up status with your vacation planning or family visits home, or if you are like me and wander around a lot, it doesn't take too long. I'd also recommend that you check out Star Alliance, as they have connected with over 25 airlines, and your status carries over to other airlines in their network for things like baggage allowances, and priority waitlisting, plus lounge access (which is why my star alliance level achieved with my frequent flyer miles on United gave me benefits on the other two airlines, they are all part of one network).

Also, making so many stops over the week, meant I had to pack my purse with all the necessities I would need/want to have on hand. Here's what I managed to stuff into my tote-sized purse with magnetic button closure. In hindsight, I should have used something with zippers to keep things enclosed. And pockets. Because pockets are the greatest invention ever. (Especially dresses with pockets, but back to the bag...)

With limited space, I decided on the following:

Overall the bag was stuffed to the brim, but not heavy, and I had everything at my fingertips. I made sure to pack:

- E-reader (I love my nookie!)
- Travel pillow
- Pashmina (perfect for keeping warm with plane temperature changes, though I often use it to cover my legs since I love wearing dresses when flying)
- Make-up bag (stuffed with goodies like my go-to concealer for under eye circles Time Balm concealer)
- Hand sanitizer
- Pain reliever
- Hand lotion
- Band-aids (they always come in handy, usually for a blister. And it seems that whenever you need a band-aid it's always hard to come across one, especially a decent one, so I pack 'em all the time. By the way, have I told you I'm a planner for work? Surprise, no?!)
- Tissues (airplane tissue is so thin and scratchy!)
- Zinc tablets (cold/flu viruses were following us around the entire trip)
- Gravol (especially because I cannot find this anywhere but Canada, and if you have an upset tummy, it's so handy! I also thought it would be helpful as a sleeping aid, in case I had troubles falling asleep... which I didn't.)
- Deodorant (yes, I prefer men's, but really need to switch to all natural - any suggestions?)
- Baby powder (for freshening up in my shoes, and as a dry shampoo)
- Moisturizer with SPF (but my travel size not pictured)
- Iphone loaded with videos and games galore (I'm also an iphone pic addict, sorry no professional photos here)
- Glasses (better to see you with my dear!)
- Wallet
- Nail file/buffer all in one
- Gum
- Mints
- Hair clip
- Make-up remover wipes (to freshen up)
- Toothpaste (not pictured is my toothbrush, though I'm a huge fan of Colgate Wisps. Used them all up on the trip - not pictured. Easy to brush up without making a mess, and you don't need toothpaste!)
- Earphones
- Phone charger
- Travel book
- Plastic baggie to stuff all liquids, and a second one to stuff the little items in so they are not floating around my purse.
- Passport (always triple check you have this on hand!)
- Pen (like a band-aid, whenever you need one, they are hard to find)

Overall I had almost everything I needed... it was my first international flight, and I found a new must-have, EAR PLUGS! They block out the airplane noise so well, made sleeping so easy. Thankfully they were provided by the airline.

Phew, well that was a long one, but I sure love learning about everyone else's travel tips, thought I could pass some along as well. Any other travel must-haves that we should be packing in our purse?

Side note: All recommendations are my personal opinions from my own personally paid experiences. I was not compensated to share any of the links or views in this post.

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