Pack Smart

• It is a challenge to pack for Alaska weather, but consider bringing 3 days of outfits. If a cruise is involved, that gets more complicated, but if you’re mostly bringing shorts, pants, shirts, and a few jackets and shoes, cut it down as much as you can and do laundry during your vacation. We’ll do laundry for you while you’re out for $8 load, washed and dried. Managing two 50-pound monstrous suitcases in the airport and then everywhere during vacation can sure take the life out of you.

And don’t get us started on lost luggage…those numbers are way up…If possible, bring one overhead-compartment-sized rolling suitcase. You can thank us later. Carry it on, keep it with you, and skip Baggage Claim at 11 p.m. when so many of our flights come in (which could feel like 2 or 3 a.m., depending on which time zone you’re from). This will prevent you needing to find the nearest Wal-Mart to buy new clothes on Day Three when your luggage has still not arrived and you’re tired of being in the same clothes for yet another day. Lost luggage becomes a rolling joke on Day 1, then becomes worrisome on Day 2, and becomes a trip to Wal-Mart on Day 3 when you’re really tired of that same shirt you’ve had on since you left your house. Thankfully, very little luggage is permanently lost. Most shows up within three days. But will it put a serious crimp in your travel plans to have to worry about where your suitcases are?

My own grandmother and uncle wouldn’t take my advice: they both packed and checked two big suitcases. Their cheap-o flights for this quick 4-day vacation to visit bounced them around the Lower 48 and finally up here on a second day, thus shortening our time together by a day and meaning they didn’t have time to go see Seward. One of their four bags had arrived at the same time as them. The other bags put on quite a few miles around the Lower 48. Their carrier was not Alaska Airlines so it took many calls, going through automated messages and sitting on hold, to try to get the bags. My uncle went to Kodiak for charter fishing for one quick day. Guess what? The bags followed him there and got there the day after he was there. Then to get them from Kodiak took a while. By now, my Gramma insisted she needed new clothes—pants, a sweater, slippers, undergarments, a robe. She’s kind of a picky shopper, so much deliberating on the few choices at our few choices of stores was required. A trip to Wal-Mart, then Sears, then a local shop, then back to Wal-Mart. There went several more hours out of the time that we could have been enjoying the wonders of Alaska instead of looking for a parking space. Thanks for coming, Gramma! See you in two more years hopefully! Is that how you want to spend your precious vacation time?

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