[backpack at it]

I feel like a n00b [for you non-nerds, here’s the urban dictionary definition. Webster’s working on the final phrasing of it, I’m sure]. Traveling has been a trip in itself. It’s like I’ve forgotten all the rules of expert packing. That, and international travel is harder than I gave it credit for.

So, if you remember from my first RyanAir experience, I paid an extra 40E to check my overweight backpack…only to see that no one was checking the weight of bags. Naturally, I figured I would sneak my pack in and if I get caught, then I’ll just pay the 40E at the airport.

Fastforward to me getting to the airport and seeing that my pack is just a little too big for the size requirements and deciding to check my bag.

Me: Hi, I think I’d like to check my backpack in after all.
Her: I don’t see that you specified that during your online check-in.
Me: Oh. No, I just decided I would check it…
Her: Okay. That will be one-thirty euros.
Me: I’m sorry…did you say one HUNDRED and THIRTY euros?
Her: Yes.
Me: Ummm, I think I’ll just repack my things then…
Her: So you don’t want to check it?
Me: Noooo thank you.

WHAT!??!?! How do you go from 40E online check in to 130E [aka about 180E USD] at the airport?! Seriously, RyanAir. You’re killing me.

From previous travels, I learned to get to the airport early. Or at least start leaving for the airport early. I got to the Thessaloniki airport about 2 hours early. All of which I spent re-packing.

I noticed that the women at the gate were pretty ruthless about making every passenger fit their carry-ons into the metal luggage box to ensure the size requirements were met. This meant I really had to figure out what to do with my bag.

I repacked and walked over to the metal box at least 15 times. Literally. I’m not exaggerating for the sake of the story. Some old Greek men even helped me shove my bag into the box, they were so helpful. And extremely supportive [odd..but I really needed some cheerleaders].

It didn’t take me long to realize that I would have to Eurotrip this [it’s the first scene in the clip – this is the best I can get to visually showing you what I had to do]. If you’re lucky, I may re-enact it for you with pictures later. But definitely watch the clip!

So, back to me.

On my 5th trip to the metal box, I thought I had gotten my bag in a good spot. The Greek men cheered for me! And one of them urged me to show the gate woman. She patted my pack down and said it didn’t fit. I kid you not, it was maybe above the bar by 1.5 inches. I was crushed. And to top it off, it was because my backpack back frame was just a tiny bit too tall. One man, even offered to let me put some of my things in his carry on! But he was on the other flight :[ Ugh. What was I going to do?

Put on more clothes. Of course.

I arrived at the airport wearing my boots, black jeans, a white tank top, and my 3/4-sleeved cardigan. I started adding on the layers. I got out my rain jacket, lined it with my zip up hoodie, and then lined that with my plaid button up. I took out my thick, plaid scarf, I would wear that too. My laptop just wasn’t going to fit neatly in my pack. The next obvious thing to do was stuff it in my REI 18L Day Pack and wear that under my 3-layer jacket. Still needed some extra space in my pack. So, I put on my striped short sleeve shirt over my tank top, put on my long maxi dress on top of that, strapped on my daypack, and put my long sleeved cardigan on. I looked ridiculous. And my daypack kept sticking out so I looked like Quasimodo. A quick waist belt around my dress would fix that. And, on top of all that, I wore my rain jacket-zip up-plaid shirt ensemble too. Plus my scarf to cover up my backpack waist hip straps.

Oh.My.Gosh. It was freaking hot. I was dressed for Antarctica. And everyone in the airport had light, white, flowy clothes. “Check out the crazy Asian girl with 500 layers, what’s her deal?” I could feel people staring. Sometimes I even made eye contact and stared at them back. You don’t even know my problems. I would mind-tell them. They didn’t care.

By the time it was time to start lining up, I did another metal box check, knowing that my frame was too big..but hoping she would see how hard I tried to repack and let me through.

I held my breath, stuffed my pack in the metal box, patted it down, looked a bit frazzled, sighed…and to my luck, a man on the other side of the box said, “Yes, yes! Ees fine! Okay!” HALLLELUJAH! Relief flooded my veins…and I continued to sweat profusely.

With ninja speed, I pulled out my pack and waited to get my ticket checked!

When I got to the front again, the lady asked me to check my pack in the metal box. She wasn’t paying attention. I think I stopped breathing again. And then she looked up at me and then let me by. Thank the travel gods. I would have died if she pat down my pack and made me pay 130E. What the eff, though, RyanAir. This was definitely the most stressful 2 hours of my entire trip.

…And it’s warranted a post on how I would have packed differently now that my first euro-leg is over.

Backpack choice: At first, I was all for my Kelty Red Cloud Jr 65 Pack because of all the neat features: top loading, side zipper, 3 exterior pockets, 2 waterbottle mesh side pickets, bottom compartment for a sleeping bag/shelf, etc. But, living in a tent proved to be trickier than I had expected because I felt like I had to keep unpacking&repacking to get to some of the things I wanted. You could blame it on poor packing strategy but I kind of wish I had brought a bag that was more like a regular roller carry-on. Or this Kelty RedWing bag with a zipper all-around that let me access everything more easily.

Clothing: As far as clothes go, I wore the same thing on the farm every day. And I predicted I sort of would. So, my jeans, denim shirt, and layering tanks were perfect given my responsibilities. I didn’t end up using the arm sleeves [sorry, Mom] and I left them for the next girls. Aside from my work clothes, I really didn’t need to wear any other types of clothes except for my trips to the beach and Parga. I do wish, though, that I packed another pair of long socks. And, silly me brought the wrong ankle socks [I think they were meant for flats, not tennis shoes]. In the end, I ditched two tanks, my blue jeans, and two shirts.

Shoes: I actually wore my boots every day in the fields. I’m sooo glad I brought these. Leather boots were perfect for combatting high, itchy grass, morning dew, muddy fields, sneaky blackberry vines [with thorns], and so much more. Functional and fashionable. Thanks, Steve Madden! Instead of two flimsy flip flops, I really wish I brought a pair of sturdy water sandals, like Teva’s or Birkenstocks [ps, I want these, what do you guys think?? – I feel like such a hippie] , to shower and water hike in. My tennis shoes haven’t seen much action; they sort of failed me my first day of work when all the prickly things started to stick to the tongue of my shoes. My leather flats, on the other hand, have been nice to wear on my days off but I have a icky feeling these may not last the entire trip, we’ll see.

Accessories: Totally in love with my REI travel towel. It’s basically amazing. It dries so so quickly! My inflatable pillow, I’ll be honest, wasn’t super awesome at the beginning of the trip, but I actually used it every night to help prop my legs while I sleep. For the fields, my hat and sunglasses have been super important for staying cool; I’m so glad I brought these..especially because I don’t normally wear hats.

Electronics: I wish I left my Nikon at home. I haven’t needed to take any pro-looking pictures [I also packed the wrong lens, oy!] and honestly my iPhone’s been holding its own. The down side of having packed it is that it’s quite a bit extra weight that I could do without. I’ll probably ask the boyfriend to take it home with him from Italy. I also don’t have a need for a second power converter yet. I was anticipating needing to charge my laptop and straighten my hair but it hasn’t been necessary [I never did anything with my hair]. While having both a flashlight/lamp and a headlamp have been nice, I think I could have left my flashlight at home too.

Toiletries: I definitely wish I brought Cottonelle Wet Wipes with me so I could take some proper hippy-showers [where you wipe yourself down with wet wipes instead of using outdoor camp showers – I do this a lot while camping – don’t judge]. I brought Yes to Carrots Face Wipes and they just don’t feel right. Since I haven’t really used any make up, that’s been pretty pointless so far but I know I’d rather have it than not. I brought a ton of Zyrtec pills with me that I eventually threw away. I wish I brought hydrogen peroxide because rubbing alcohol freaking BURNS my mosquito scratches. Oh, I also wouldn’t have minded a loufa and a small pumice stone/nail brush to get the dirt out from under my nails.

Miscellaneous: The Urban Outfitters cloth bag [the one they give you when you purchase something] is pretty ratty now. I wish I brought a longer-lasting big cloth bag because I’ve been using it as a carry on [during my flights] and as a laundry bag too. It’s been very dynamic really. But this just means I’ll get to buy a cute bag in Italy or France :] I’m also grateful for the 18L daypack that I packed because I’ve definitely used it on our day trips to the beaches; it holds the perfect amount of stuff.

In the end, I definitely learned my lesson the hard way [per usual] to not overpack. I feel infinitely better about how to pack for my future trips. I’m also really excited that my boyfriend has so graciously agreed to take home some of the extra weight I’ve been carrying around.


4 responses to “[backpack at it]

  1. Please please please tell me you have a picture of yourself at the airport with all of that on!! Priceless! Glad to see everything, for the most part, has been going smoothly for you! Can’t wait to hear all about it in person! PS-we need to plan that!!

    • Haha! I thought about it! Selfies in the bathroom with my ridiculous get-up would have been priceless for sure! But I forgot where I put my phone when I boarded.

      Yes! I’m thinking October, November, or December? Haha. That’s a big time frame, right??

  2. I seriously laughed out loud! I could totally see you doing this. Then I read it to Tom and he laughed out loud! Glad you’re having a good time.

    • Haha! Oh I’m glad you enjoyed it! I was burning up! Learn from my lesson if you ever travel abroad :] How’s Brooke doing?? Eighth grade already?! Can’t even believe!

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