Much Ado About Carry Ons

We United Statesians do love our stuff. We go to big warehouse stores to buy it. Build glorious mansions to display it. Rent storage units to house the overflow. And perpetuate extreme gift-giving holidays to feed our addiction. Many of us even go on vacation with the singular focus of acquiring other countries' stuff. En route, we like to keep as much of our stuff as close to us as humanly possible, even if it creates inhuman conditions for our fellow humans. People from other countries think we're crazy. If you fly internationally you know, foreign airlines have much stricter guidelines for carry-ons. They only allow little wee tiny ones, like small purses. And they don't allow exceptions. Which is hard for exceptional-ists like us to fathom but yes, it's true. For one brief shining moment the hashtag #carryonshame conspired to bring us to our senses but we quashed it. Apparently, we're not only special, we're also shameless.

Trending now is the brag that you never check a bag, that you can fit all you need in your carry-on. Tumi CEO Jerome Griffith does this. Of course, if you're the chief of the hautest name in luggage all you really need is your black American Express card, right? I used to work with a guy, let's call him Marty, who was the "I never check a bag" type. He'd power through the airport experience like it disgusted him to breathe the same air as the rest of us. Then he'd board early and claim copious amounts of premium space for his carry-on, designer overcoat, and briefcase. Of course that meant some poor schlump who just ran all the way from Concourse X ended up having to gate-check his reasonably sized bag while Marty sat smugly making loud preflight smartphone calls to underlings. But I digress. In an attempt to fulfill our deepest desires, Boeing has just announced that they're increasing the overhead storage space on their planes. Hmm. Do you want to be the one to tell them that this monumental investment of capital still won't be enough, or shall I?

Perhaps another attempt to get us to come to our senses is the current celebrity profile trend that asks "What's in your carry-on?" I used click through on these tweets, hoping to pick up a few tips on travel chic, only to find a list of self-serving answers provided by the celebrities' publicists. What's getting comical is the increasing absurdity of the lists. 

For example, this article, from @CNTraveler asserts that designer Trina Turk carries heaps of jewelry, a "large" sun hat, three pair of sunglasses, several pieces from her active wear line, and numerous bikinis. Seriously? In her carry-on? Wait. Is there a swimming pool on the plane that no one told me about? Another article, describing an author's carry-on-only contents for a 10-day trip to India "in 102-degree heat," includes chocolate bars, silk caftans, a Prada wallet, J. Crew t-shirts, a bottle of designer oil, and six books. My neck hurts just thinking about those books. Is she even going to see India with all that reading to do? The comments beneath the article were downright hilarious: pathetic, useless, you forgot underwear, you forgot bottoms, doesn't she know silk sticks to sweat, who puts oil on when it's 102 degrees, hard to believe this person ever even traveled overnight, etcetera. In know, I know, I should probably unfollow @CNTraveler. But they're not the only perpetrators of this ruse. 

Here's the thing. When we click through to these articles, we're actually hoping to learn how to be more efficient travelers. Instead, we lose hours of our lives reading all the scathing comments people leave because of the utter inanity of the lists. Of course, publications love the attention because, "Hey! We got eleven thousand views!" and "Five thousand people commented!" Next up will be the speculative lists for deceased or fictional characters. What would Audrey Hepburn carry on? (ballet slippers, hair tie, eyebrow comb). Buddha? (grain of rice, smile). Wonder Woman? (spare lasso, spandex neck pillow). Darth Vader? (Sir, you need to stow the helmet before takeoff). Actually, come to think of it, that angle could be a lot more instructive. Hmm.