Why Pack for the Same Trip Twice?
By Bryan Caplan
Travelers often repeatedly visit the same family members, the same friends. Each visit normally requires two packing sessions: You pack the stuff you’ll need, then repack the stuff you brought. Each leg takes time and energy, and possibly – depending on the airline – $25 to $50 per bag in out-of-pocket cost. Worse still, each packing session entails a risk of aggravating memory lapse. One time, you forget a belt; another, your toothpaste. Grrr.
There is a better way. Unless your family or friends live in very confined quarters, politely ask to permanently store one trip’s worth of supplies at each destination. If your hosts appreciate you, they’ll probably say yes. From then on, you can visit them without traditional packing. The out-of-pocket cost is modest. And in any case, if you have the means to travel in the First World, out-of-pocket costs should be secondary to your time, effort, and aggravation costs. Truth be told, you probably have several suitcases worth of clothes you rarely wear; why not pack them up and store them in several destinations you frequent? One fixed cost can save you years of marginal costs.
Sure, if everyone did this, it might cease to be good advice. You probably don’t want to store twenty suitcases for your twenty closest friends – and your closest friends probably feel the same way. But so what? Hardly anyone follows my strategy now, and that’s unlikely to change. And even if my idea caught on, triage is the obvious response. Store your stuff at the five places you visit most often, and reciprocate for your five most frequent guests.
Right now, I store a lot of stuff at my parents’ house, and several useful items at Fabio Rojas’ place. But I plan to take this a lot further. Next time I visit my parents, I’m leaving a week’s stuff behind. I’ll encourage them to do the same at my house. And when my kids have places of their own, I hope each will provide a few cubic feet for Grandpa Bryan.
Question: Why do so few people use my strategy? The awkwardness of asking? Hostility of the hosts’ spouse? Or just plain old-fashioned status quo bias?