When you're just a bit worried about exceeding baggage allowances, finding out that one of your big suitcases weighs 15.2 pounds - empty - is just a little disconcerting. (I must say though that the EatSmart Precision Voyager Digital Luggage Scale is a really cool little toyol. )
Now, just for context, let me start out by saying that normally the airlines' maximum weight and baggage rules do not concern me because we rarely have to worry about exceeding the weight or number of bag limits. For one, Southwest Airlines has a generous baggage allowance. (I love Southwest.) And J gets an extra baggage allowance when we fly US Airways thanks to all the his travel, so if we have one extra bag -- or extra heavy bag full of ski or scuba stuff -- it's still not an issue.
And, most of the time, we each only travel with a carry-on in any event. And, admittedly, we do have a pretty generous baggage allowance on the final move flight: I can check one 50 pound bag, and J can check three 70 pound bags -- for no additional fee.
Yet, I've been trying to figure out how to maximize our allowance and am not sure we're going to be able to avoid an extra baggage fee.
Because, this trip is ... well ... different.
For one, there were so many restrictions on what we could pack in our sea shipment and air shipment that we'll have a few bags, and a couple of those will be heavy. For example, we could not include any pastes - such as antiperspirant - in our shipments. (Nor could we include any liquids like shampoo, etc.) Now, that wouldn't be a big deal -- we can get many toiletries over there. Go native, and all that. Except that it's virtually impossible to get the type of antiperspirant we in the USA like (need) to use in Shanghai. I know this from scouring multiple multiple stores for several hours during our last trip. The only types of deodorant I could find were (a) spray deodorant and (b) the old/vintage style roll-on type that I remember my parents using ... in the 70s. And it was deodorant -- not antiperspirant. Apparently, it's only expats who sweat like crazy in the humid Shanghai weather. And that's just one example of things I couldn't find and/or don't expect to be able to find there that I (think I) will need. So, we're packing that kind of stuff.
For another, it's not at all clear when we will get our air and sea shipments once we're over there - even though I scheduled the pack/shipment of all that stuff more than a month before we leave. We could get one or both of them within two weeks after we arrive -- or two months. So, I compromised when packing and held back enough clothes and that sort of stuff to last for a month (with a couple laundry days of course).
Then there's the cats. They'll travel with us to LAX via car, then via air on their own (more on that later). However, I need to transport them to vet a least once or twice more here -- then, when they get to Shanghai, we'll need to transfer them to smaller carriers. So, I couldn't send those with shipment and have to haul them with us as well. And, there's the fact -- according to friends living there now -- that one can go for weeks without being able to find cat litter in any store. So. Yep. Need to pack some litter too.
So, my first step in "planning the final pack" was to weigh all available suitcases empty. And the good news is that three of the wheeled ones we have are under ten pounds. Except for the first one I weighed, which really was 15.2 pounds empty. (That suitcase is staying here. Maybe when we come back, I'll find a way to use it as a piece of furniture, because it's now virtually useless as an air travel luggage option. It's a pretty red. I'm sure I'll find a use for it.....)
My second step was filling one of the wheeled duffles to see how much I could fit in it ... and not go over the 70 pound limit ... and make sure things were wrapped/protected enough that the chances of leaking or breaking were minimal.
So I first used a bunch of those "air packs" that come in, for example, Amazon packages on bottom, top and sides of the suitcase. (Yes. I am my mother's daughter and have been keeping them for a couple months, sure that I'd find a use for them...) Then I put liquid stuff in hefty zip freezer bags -- then wrapped with another bag just in case the one bag broke. (Did I admit that I am my mother's daughter yet?)
Then, when it was as full as I thought I could get reasonably get it, I closed it up and weighed it:
Maybe we'll make it within our allowance after all. :) Maybe.