July 1, 2018
About five years ago, John and I traveled from Dallas to Washington state to visit my son, Scott, during the Christmas holidays. John was still an executive road warrior at that time and had TSA security clearance that allowed him to breeze through the check in process like a superhero. I, on the other hand, hadn’t reached his “supreme” status and always had to stand in line with all the “ordinary” flyers.
At the airport, the day we left, prior to claiming my position in the plebe line, I had visited the bathroom, washed my hands, and then organized all the necessary travel documents to gain access to the popular side of the airport.
After a 10-minute wait, with John giving me the “you’re so common” look on the other side of security, I finally made it up to the magical portal entrance, the metal detector. Believe me, I had done everything I was supposed to. Removed my shoes and jacket to place them in a gray bin. Removed my laptop and phone and placed them in a separate bucket. I zipped up my carryon bag and gave it a nudge onto the rolling conveyor belt so that the TSA personnel could use their miraculous x-ray machine to check out my stuff. There was no possible way for me to be more “in compliance.” So I thought.
When it was my turn to walk through the metal detector, a tiny red light flashed and a mini alarm went off. A kind agent asked me if I had keys or something in my pockets and insisted that I walk back and try again. I looked over at John and he rolled his eyes at me. I walked back and attempted reentry. Red light! Red light! Red light! Grrrr!
The kind TSA agent didn’t look so “kind” anymore, it was more like agitated now. She pulled me to the side while another official redirected the grumbling people behind me to another line. My once kind, now agitated agent pulled out what looked like a dissected Wet Wipe and swiped it over my hands. She then laid the wipe on a scan machine and you would have thought that a plane was landing right there at the security area. Bells, whistles and more red lights went off like the 4th of July! My agent’s expression went from agitation to panic as she called for her supervisor. Her boss came over, took my bag and stuff off the conveyor belt and started rifling through everything I had, right there in front of the boarding crowds. How embarrassing! All the other passengers glared at me like I was a pariah of evil. Maleficent, Bellatrix Lestrange, Nurse Ratched, and Bonnie Parker were saints compared to how my traveling peers made me feel.
I started to rankle. Good grief, what kind of Bozos are these security people? Two female agents suddenly appeared from nowhere and motioned me to a room adjacent to the check-in area. I was about to protest and tell them what I thought of their obvious ineptness, and then happened to glance across the way at John. He ran his fingers across his lips, which even as a somewhat rookie traveler I knew to be the universal signal for “zip your lips,” or in this case, “Anel, keep your mouth shut!!!” I sighed, and when I saw one of the agents with her hand on her pistol, I minded my husband.
In the interrogation room (I watch a lot of spy movies), the door was closed and one of the female agents patted me down, while the other stood, blocking the door, with her hand still on her pistol. They examined every item in my bag, as well as, every seam of my clothing, jacket and shoes.
Finally, finally, they determined that I was “clean”. And, finally, finally, I spoke, “What the heck is going on??” (I think I said “heck” but it might have been something a little stronger, considering the adrenaline and all.)
The agent that patted me down replied, “Ma’am, our machines picked up that you have explosive materials on your hands. We had to check you out.”
HUH??? NO WAY!!!
I explained that right before I got in line I’d been to the bathroom, and WASHED my hands. They asked which bathroom and apologized by saying that they were just doing their job. I calmed down a bit, and went to the seated area where everyone reassembles themselves after security. As I put back on my shoes and reorganized my carryon bag, several of the boarding passengers that had seen it all sneered at me, probably hoping that I wasn’t going to be on their plane.
I found John perched on a stool at a bar close to our boarding gate. Figures. As I relayed the story he gave me a big hug, not as solace for the totally mortifying ordeal I’d just survived, but out of pride that I’d actually taken his advice and clammed up. The guy sitting next me overheard the story. He bought us both a drink, restoring my faith in airport people. John ordered us sandwiches, but before I chowed down I found another bathroom, rewashed my hands and let the water run over them for a long, long time.
Now, I’m relating this story to let you know that sometimes when people peek in your bags it can be horrific. But today, it’s going to be fun.
John and I travel with 4 suitcases and 4 carry-on bags. Everything we own is fitted into these 8 receptacles. Because of our pared down minimalist lifestyle, we’ve learned to be smart about what is important for our existence.
And, because we don’t have much, the things that we do have are high quality, made to last.
We often have people ask us things like:
“How many pairs of shoes do you own?” or,
“What if the place you are housesitting doesn’t have everything you need?” and,
“Is there something you sold that you have needed and wish you still had?” or,
“What kind of luggage do you recommend?” etc., etc., etc.
You have now graduated to BFF level. We’re going to let you have a free sneak peek at our stuff. Everything we own. Well almost.
So are you ready to take a gander at our stuff? Here ya go!
We’ve divided up the sections thusly:
Our wardrobe consists of clothing that is breathable and versatile. Since we prefer to be on a beach or in a warm tropical climate, you won’t find any ski jackets or snow boots. We sold all of those in our estate sale!!!
Our dressiest outfits are our jeans, and we both own 5 pairs of shorts. I also have several pairs of gym leggings that can also substitute for day time wear.
Shoes are important because we walk A LOT! We invest most of our wardrobe cash in shoes.
We love games!!! If Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek could fit in our luggage I’d take him along. Since that’s never going to happen, here are a few games and leisure items that we love.
We travel with a Scrabble gameboard, but we do “gaming” on our tablets. In fact, we use our tablets A LOT.
We also have a Roku for watching our favorite shows.
Although neither one of us is a gourmet chef, there are certain kitchen “musts” that are definitely worth the extra weight in our suitcases. John grills out just about every night and we are pretty much coffee snobs, so we carry a basting brush, tongs and a metal French Press, wherever we go. We also have our own metal (aluminum) coffee mugs.
It gets all over John if knifes are not sharp, so he has 2 knife sharpeners that go with us everywhere.
We’ve been working on Spanish more than any other language, so far. Here are a few language programs that we really like: DuoLingo, Wlingua, Rosetta Stone, Spanish for People Moving to Mexico, Spanish Injection, Fluencia, and Spanish Dict.
We’ve had many luggage battles (Pinkie & Big Blue, Luggage Lampoon and Adios Pinkie, Hola Stripe!) in our journey as house sitters. The foundation for successful travel is always stellar luggage. Believe me, it took me a while to figure out what works best.
I love Dakine and we both love Eagle Creek because if anything, ANYTHING, breaks or doesn’t work on the piece of luggage, they will replace it. If you plan to become a house sitter, or do extensive travel, never, ever go cheap when selecting your luggage.
This is John’s category. Of course, he’d love to have all the latest and greatest camera equipment, but because we travel “light” he has what works best, is compact and lightweight. John has a Canon camera with two wide angle lenses. He has a mini tripod, as well as a full one. Both are lightweight and retractable.
Both of our phones have the best cameras available, and we’ve actually taken the time to learn how to use all the features. It’s amazing how far technology has progressed since I got my first “Brownie” as a kid.
After enduring and surviving hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, we have paid more attention to keeping these basic survival items with us at all times: a super flashlight, a stock of good masks (since covid), life straws, and of course, electric bug zappers. John has two!
We are both big time geeks! For me, our tech gizmos are more precious than our clothes! My computer and backup device are what I grab first during any emergency. Both John and I have laptops. I also have an external monitor, recording equipment, portable device chargers and we’ve just added, this last year, a wifi extender.
Although we haven’t had to use them as house sitters yet, we have a variety of power adapters.