What’s in the box?


Yesterday I had the good fortune of hanging out in NYC with a miles and points collector who really knows his stuff when it comes to packing light (and turns out to be really good company as well!).  As we chatted I told him about this stupid box Drew and I have been carting around the world.

First, you must know that Drew and I are almost strictly carry-on only kind of people.

I travel with a small backpack and a handbag and Drew travels with a small backpack and a rolling brief-case.  That’s almost always it.  And somehow when we take discount airliner flights, we can manage to consolidate everything into three pieces of luggage instead of four.

I live by the light-travel rules because I believe it makes both budget travel easier as well as off-the-beaten-path-travel easier.  And I love both.  If you only pack what you can carry yourself and only what you can carry onto a plane, you can walk, hitch-hike, take a public bus, hop on and off subways, carpool, take discount airline flights- you can do all of these things more easily than if you weigh yourself down.

Anyway, Drew and I broke our rule when the InterContinental Johannesburg gave us a welcome gift of wine.  We get bottles of wine quite frequently as a welcome gift but for whatever reason, we decided this bottle was worth keeping.  So we bundled it up in some shirts and stuck it in a small box and checked it on a series of 13 flights.

Ever since, this stupid box of wine has been a headache.  

Let me recount the ways…

1.) When we were in Chicago about to head into the ice storm at Dallas Fort Worth, we were worried our outgoing Dallas flight would be canceled so we tried to see if we could change our flight to go directly from Chicago to Puerto Vallarta Mexico and skip Dallas all-together.

Well…the stupid box would be sitting at baggage claim in Dallas without us, so we couldn’t change our ticket.  That, and a desire not to pay change fees got in our way.

2.)  By flight 11 of 13 we were exhausted of flying and we were just ready for a break, so we looked into changing our Dallas to LaGuardia flight to an earlier one that would cut down our airport time.  Well, the agents were happy to change our flight, but again, we’d have to wait at the airport anyway when we landed because our stupid box was already loaded onto the plane flying the later flight.

This stupid box taught me two lessons.

1.) Carry-on only is the way to go if you want any kind of flexibility.

2.) There is such a thing as too frugal.

You see, we knew that wine had some kind of value, so we didn’t want it to go to waste.  So we stuck it in a box.  Then, in Dallas we bought some pasta to do some cooking in our hotel and again, not wanting to be wasteful, I stuck the leftover bag of uncooked noodles in the box….(in case I wanted to make pasta in Mexico?).  Then, in Mexico we realized that buying a giant thing of sunscreen was a better deal than a small one, so we bought a giant thing of sunscreen and, not wanting to waste it, stuck it in the box too when our Mexico time was done.

It’s like that closet you don’t ever organize, but stash all the extra only half-wanted things in. The game closet.  Somehow even though we don’t have a home…we have that closet in the form of a box.

So now when the check-in staff asked us “What’s in the box?”  we said “A bottle of wine…some sunscreen….” and we trailed off before we could explain that there was also a half bag of dry pasta.

That stupid box has followed us on 12 flights and is about to follow us on a thirteenth…hopefully its last.

It has overstayed its welcome and it’s time someone consumes this wine.



10 Comments on “What’s in the box?

  1. HA HA, I like your post and thank you for kind comment. I had a wonderful time as well and wish we did not leave Apple Bar. There was a good energy there as we all share through stories, experiences and laughter. Please PM me (jptravels4fun@gmail.com) so I can get your email address. I want to send you some things we spoke about, I look forward to seeing you both when you come back…
    The Handleizer

    • Yes the Apple Bar was a very good choice and I can’t wait to see what Brooklyn has in store when we come back sometime. 🙂 Thanks again for such a great time, Handleizer!

  2. I loved talking to you guys and yes, next time come to Brooklyn and visit our home. I wanted you both to eat more, I felt you were holding back. When I say “I got it”, I got it, never leave an Italian’s table hungry 😛

    • Good advice as I’ll soon be going to Italy and can practice it there too! 😉

  3. You probably just should have drank the wine on the plane and distributed it to passengers around your seats. As far as the pasta and sunscreen, those items just should have been thrown out or left in the hotel room or just request the hotel to donate them to a food bank if possible around the hotel’s neighborhood.

    • Agreed. All of those are better ideas than carting around a box of such things.

  4. I suspect after all those flights, that bottle of wine has been thru a bunch of hot and cold cycles. I bet you’d be better off drinking the sunscreen…

    • Hahaha it was actually pretty good believe it or not but I’m so glad it’s gone.

  5. Hi Carrie. I’m new to your site and a newbie travel hacker based here in your wine’s hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. Tell me what wine it was and if you ever need a new bottle of it mailed to you (wherever in the world you happen to be), my wife and I will send it on. Alternatively you can always come back to South Africa and we’ll share a bottle with you.

    • That is the sweetest thing ever! It was really delicious. It was a somewhat sweet red wine, not too dry, but I can’t for the life of me remember what kind it was. We should start keeping track of such things.

      Next time we’re in South Africa (we’re definitely coming back sometime) we’ll scout out a comparable bottle of wine to share with you and your wife. 🙂

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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