Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What’s In Your Carry-on?

I’d really like to travel to Europe someday—as soon as I can figure out how to drive there. Not because I’m afraid my plane will be blown to bits over the Atlantic, but because I’m pretty sure my moisturizer will be lost in translation between O’Hare and Heathrow.

Oh, that al-Qaeda is scary smart. The latest TSA restrictions banning carry-on items of a liquid nature is just the sort of terrorism that leaves a gal like me quaking in her flip flops. I obsess over my carry-on bag. Because, people, lost luggage is not an urban legend. It happened to my friend Amy’s sister Angie on a vacation to Hawaii. It happened to my brother and sister-in-law on their honeymoon to Greece. And it happened to my pal Vince on a business trip to Germany. Granted, Europeans are more lax about changing clothes and underwear on a daily basis, but still, it sucks to have your wardrobe options limited to the travel outfit you deemed worthy of rumpling.

So whenever I fly, I am extremely strategic about what I place in my carry-on. Basically, I toss in anything I’m not prepared to do without for the coming week or the rest of my life: underwear (natch), jewelry, toiletries, pajamas, a pair each of dress and casual shoes, a couple of days’ worth of clothing, casual and dress, and all articles of favored attire--like my American Eagle khaki ripstop Capri cargo pants--that I couldn’t bear to have wind up on the black market in Istanbul or Phoenix. Yes, my bag is just this side of illegally large, but it will fit in the overhead bin.

Dave finds this practice idiotic, or at minimum a nuisance. But who do you suppose had the last laugh when we arrived at the Fresno airport and our luggage decided to sojourn elsewhere? Would that be Mr. I Checked All My Luggage, who would have to survive with the little black bag of sample-sized hand lotions tossed at him by the oh-so-helpful customer service agent at the baggage claim counter? Or Moi, who had enough gear to go hiking the next morning or out to a fancy dinner that night? Correct answer: Not Dave.

With the latest TSA regulations, more passengers are checking more bags, which only decreases the likelihood that these pairs will be reunited at the end of a flight. I heard that directly from a cable news pundit. For the purpose of this diatribe, I’m not even going to mention the only slightly less-worse-case scenario of my bag getting jostled in the cargo hold, causing my shampoo to explode all over my Cookie Monster T-shirt, which come to think of it, should have been in the carry-on.

I know some people subscribe to the if-it’s-lost-replace-it theory. But some things, like my cargo pants, are irreplaceable. I’ve tried to find substitutes (let’s not kid ourselves, no pair of pants lives forever), but they’re never quite the same color, never have quite the same fit, never stretch in quite the same way at the waist. Until I can clone the khakis, they’re boarding the plane with me.

You could argue that the same does not hold true for moisturizer. And I would respond by inquiring as to whether you’ve ever spent a week in the remote southern reaches of Utah, where the nearest Walgreens is in another state and it’s doubtful that the local general store has heard of Luminous Color Glaze.

Assuming I could find the one-to-one equivalent of each tube of toothpaste, each can of hairspray, each bottle of age-defying elixir, at what cost? I priced out the complete array of TSA no-no’s I packed on a recent road trip to Ohio.

Secret deodorant: $4.60
Refresh Liquigel lubricant eye drops: $8.49
Colgate whitening toothpaste: $3.65
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette shampoo: $5.99
John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze: $8.99
Redken Body Full Plump Treat gel thickening gel for fine hair: $11.43
Sebastian Shaper Plus hairspray: $14.99
Dove Energy Glow skin brightening facial cleanser: $5.99
Nivea age-defying skin moisturizer: $8.99
L’Oreal active daily moisture (night): $7.39
Dove Energy Glow brightening eye cream: $9.99
Neutrogena Healthy Skin anti-wrinkle cream (day): $11.99
L’Oreal wrinkle de-crease collagen filler: $19.99
Assorted L’Oreal/Maybelline lipsticks (TSA: OK, not OK?): $5.49
Coppertone Sport ultra-sweatproof sunblock, SPF 30: $9.99
Dfi extreme hold styling cream: $9.95
Maybelline wet shine lip gloss: $4.99
Revlon age defying light makeup: $12.29
L’Oreal Lash Out mascara: $6.99

TOTAL: $172.18 (only one lipstick; prices from,, msn shopping)

I have no idea what that amounts to in Euros or British Pounds, but in any monetary system it translates as “more than I can afford.” So until TSA eases its restrictions or starts cutting checks at the boarding gate, you’ll know where to find me. Digging the Churro Tunnel from Chicago to Europe.


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