Drastic Options for the Traveller

I had time to kill before clearing security and boarding an Air Canada Rouge flight from Osaka Kansai (KIX) to Vancouver. Marketed as Air Canada’s “stylishly affordable service,” what that really means is fewer perks and comforts. When you pay less you get less. I get that. Never mind. If you can put up with it, you get there.

Photo Credit: http://notable.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/mv55k26dazairc-600x400.jpg on Noteable.ca

Photo Credit: http://notable.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/mv55k26dazairc-600×400.jpg on Noteable.ca

For $804 return (all taxes and fees included) I enjoyed slimmer seats, less leg room, no free booze and no entertainment unless I downloaded an app to my own device or rented theirs.  That’s not a complaint, merely a statement of fact (but reading online, there are plenty of complaints).

Before boarding the 9-hour flight I needed to walk—a lot. Nowadays, the pilots throw on the seatbelt sign the minute someone sneezes. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We are experiencing some turbulence. Please, fasten your seatbelts. Then there’s no getting up for hours. No doing a few loops around the cabin before the stews get fed up and send you back to your seat.

Rolling my little carry-on behind me, I took the escalator down to explore the third floor shopping arcade. Among numerous other shops I encountered Drastic the Baggage, an upscale luggage and leather goods shop.

Photo credit: Photo credit: Chris Gladis on Flicker.com https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Photo credit: Photo credit: Chris Gladis on Flicker.com https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Two things immediately dumbfounded me. First, the location. Why would anyone sell luggage inside an airport? I don’t get that. Aren’t people packed before they get there? I know there are scattered, last-minute types, but.

I’m running the scenario through my mind. I’m about to leave on a vacation or business trip. Now, in the pre-boarding area I realize that I need a wallet, handbag, backpack or suitcase? If it’s a gift I want, why would I shop at the airport’s grossly inflated prices? And wouldn’t I want it already packed in my suitcase? Nothing about it makes any sense to me.

Second, the name. Drastic the Baggage. Not exactly brilliant marketing. Drastic is not a word I want to hear around an airport—ever. Whatever is drastic, it can’t be good and only adds more negative psychological encumbrance to another word already loaded with it—baggage. I couldn’t help wonder what went on in the mind of the person (Wanna bet it was a committee?) who coined that bit of Engrish.  Another shop name in the Tokyo Derica chain, SAC’s Bar (or alternatively Sax) is easier to fathom.

Photo Credit to AP/Nam Y. Huh, File

Photo Credit to AP/Nam Y. Huh, File

Then again, what might be fitting—even drastic— is the amount of baggage people feel the need to carry. If you’re moving or flying your sporting equipment across the planet, you are excused from the conversation. But taking a trip? One carry-on suitcase along with the allowed tote bag is all one really needs. Truly. That’s all.

I’ll admit it. For women it’s trickier. It requires forethought and making sure that every piece works with every other one; however, once you have the hang of it the clothes are easy. Thanks to some great advice I got decades ago from other travellers who go lightly, I have that down pat: two bottoms (three if I cheat) and eight tops which can be layered (including a jacket) in one colour palette.

The clothes can be dressed up or down with scarves or jewellry. And no matter how great the temptation, there’s no need to fudge those numbers. Usually there are two tops I never wear, even on three and four-week trips.

Bottom 1 & top 1

Bottom 1 & top 1

Bottom 2, tops 2 & 3

Bottom 2, tops 2 & 3

The real challenge is the shoes. Even if I stuff them, shoes take up too much room. If I must walk long distances in various weather conditions and want both stylish looks and comfort, there’s little to satisfy all those requirements in one pair. Usually I have to sacrifice vanity for comfort or the other way around. That one’s a toss. On a long haul, comfort wins. In the short term, vanity. Always.

I limit myself to two pair and perhaps slides or flip-flops. Like yoga pants and a tank top which double as pyjamas, those don’t count in the 2:8 ratio. Plus they can serve as slippers. If they sport a little lustre or bling, with a great pedicure you can even rock them as evening wear.

Funny, NASA can put people on the moon, but can anyone on the planet design a smokin’ hot pair of walking shoes which delivers adequate comfort and support? Send me photos if the answer to that is yes. Where are the shoes which can go miles in the function and looks department? Meh! They’re all aimed at octogenarians or people who lived the summer of love in a cloud of weed.

Drastic the Shoes. That I can understand.

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