Jane Stebbins
The Curry Coastal Pilot

My daughter, despite her love of foreign countries, gets a wee bit anxious getting to them.

Actually, it’s the airports that stress her out. Or more specifically, it’s anything involved with luggage check-in that puts her over the edge.

So I wasn’t surprised when Erin announced she intends to take one piece of luggage, a carry-on, on our trip next month. Bwhahaha! What?!

Her decision doesn’t surprise me, after I recalled our ‘wasn’t-funny-then but sure-is-now’ escapades hauling suitcases the sizes of coffins on and off subways, trains, buses, cabs and bicycles in Italy.

Well, she’ll save money, what with those exorbitant fees the airlines hit you with for bringing along so much as an extra Q-tip.

But a carry-on? For THREE WEEKS?! What does that reduce her load to? Rain gear and some underwear?

Instead of rolling my eyes, I felt my eyebrows rise. Challenge — accepted!

Friends say they’ve done this. One did three months in Europe with a carry-on and a daypack. Another did two weeks in Peru with a “hip pack” (Shhh. You can’t say “fanny pack” in Europe.)

Now to cull my carefully planned list.

There are necessities: Passport, money, chargers, electrical adapters, toilet paper (You’d be surprised …) earplugs and socks. You can never have enough socks.

First things to stay home? The bathing suit. A couple novels. The crossword puzzle book comes with; I’ll tear out completed puzzles as I go.

I won’t need three pair of pants — I’ll take one. And wear them, because pants take up a lot of room in a suitcase. Three T-shirts, one long-sleeved. Shoes? I’ll bring my Tevas and a pair for the nightlife. Sunglasses? Yes ... no? It rains in Ireland more than it rains here; the glasses stay. I get cold at night, and Ireland’s kinda near the North Pole, so I’ll have to bring my flannel PJs. I don’t think they’d appreciate me sleeping nude in a 16-bed youth hostel room. I’ll need a sweatshirt; I’ll take my favorite one, even though it’s a bit on the bulky side.

More socks. Underwear, check. Can’t skimp there.

My address book — yes, I’ve hauled that across The Pond before — will go … into my phone! What a concept! And my camera IS my phone now, after our last trip abroad.

This is like packing for a long camping trip: Little bottles of shampoo. A sliver of soap. Break the toothbrush handle in half. Cut a towel into quarters and take one. Deodorant? Pshaw! This is Europe!

I’ll need two shorts, one dress and a nice blouse. No one’s going to see us more than once — except the hostel employees, and they don’t change their clothes much, either, I’ve noticed.

We need our guide books, of course. And I can’t go anywhere without my perfect pillow. And my journal! Ooh! I want to bring my new purse, and I absolutely must bring that cute scarf I bought in Italy, the one that goes round and round — it must be 10 feet long.

And now, to stuff it all into — THAT’S a CARRY-ON?! THAT little box?! That’s the size of my friend Jane’s makeup kit! Her overnight makeup kit!

Well. Check a suitcase? Or cull some more? The challenge lingers. Cull, I must.

Get rid of the books; they have books in Ireland.

Leave behind the pajamas; I’ll wear gym shorts and a T-shirt to bed. Ix-nay to the nightlife shoes. And the scarf. I’ll swap out my favorite-but-bulky sweatshirt for a light jacket. I’ll layer — with T-shirts. Yeah. And I can always buy stuff over there, right? My friend Bill says, “You are woman, you will shop. And if you shop, you ship.” Excellent advice.

OK, the fancy purse stays home; the daypack comes. The pillow — argh! — stays.

And stuff,cram,stufffff.

It fits! With room to spare!

I called Erin to see how her packing was coming along. She sighed.

“I gave up. There’s just so much I have to bring. Remember that adorable hat I bought in the Caymans? Yeah … And that dress we got in Milan? I’ll be checking luggage after all.”

Really.

Well, not me! I can do this — three weeks in Europe with a 15-pound carry-on!

I wonder how much extra the airlines will charge for that.

17939649