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Posted June 30, 2008 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
"Two weeks. Two countries. Two flights. Six trains. Some taxis. A subway. A mountain. Countless streets and shops. Innumerable restaurants and pubs. And just One Air Boss and One Gator. No problem." That’s how William Lamb summed up his trip to Europe with his son in tow. Let’s checkout the long story.
Determined to test the limits of One-Bag-ism during a two-week visit to Germany and the Czech Republic with my son, I packed light. On one side of my Air Boss: two pair of slacks and a pair of jeans.
The other: three shirts. In the middle: a toiletries kit, a sweater, underwear, socks and some other personal items. In its roomy side pockets I stuffed airline flight information and receipts, maps and various printouts I had made about our destinations. When packed, it was still thinner than your promotional photos.
And into that went my camera, two umbrellas, spare batteries, my iPod, business cards, a charger for our cell phones (plus adapter), my U.S. cell phone, some lapel pins I planned to give away, and other odds and ends of traveling life.
My son, using my old backpack, had to check it before boarding our flight to Frankfurt, but no one questioned my Air Boss. It fit easily – and quickly – into the overhead compartment. The Gator slid under my seat, complete with bottled water in the end pockets. (Long flight, bad movies, uneventful.)
With the Gator slung over a shoulder and my Air Boss in hand, we waited for my son’s backpack to be unloaded, made our way through passport control and headed for the S-Bahn station, getting only mildly lost a couple times. When the Air Boss started feeling heavy, I lifted the strap onto my other shoulder and kept going.
Through it all I was pleasantly surprised that, despite having a bag on each shoulder, there was virtually no discomfort, thanks to those marvelous no-slide Claw straps.
Even during the brief standing S-Bahn ride and the wait at Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof, the two bags were hardly a bother, much less a thought. Sliding both bags into the overhead luggage area of an ICE train to Nürnberg was fast and easy.
Unpacking once we reached our hotel, I found my shirts and pants virtually wrinkle free, thanks to the straps that held them tightly in place. For days – and nights – spent out and about, the Gator was emptied of much of its cross-Atlantic cargo and became a sturdy, shoulder-carried day pack. Camera, batteries, umbrella, pen, paper, maps and more at the ready, its ample space left plenty of room for anything we bought along the way.
From Nürnberg to Furth-im-Wald and the village of Rimbach on the Czech border, to Plzeň, then on to Prague and back to Frankfurt, those scenarios played out daily, with the Gator and the Air Boss keeping things safe, neat and manageable.
My son checks his backpack as I stand nearby. The attendant asks me, "You’re not checking anything?" "No," I say, wondering why she’d even ask. She looks again at my Air Boss, obviously thinking I should check it. "How heavy is it?" she asks. With just the hand I’m using to carry it, I lift it over my head and hold it there. She frowns. "Well," she says, "I hope you find a place to put it." I did. The same overhead space I used on the flight over. No muss, no fuss.
Obviously, I’m sold on Red Oxx travel luggage. And that little Metro Briefcase is tempting home for my MacBook Pro. Hmm…
Tucked away from the maddening world in a small German village called Rimbach along the Czech border is the Wellness Hotel Bayerischer Hof, where one can be pampered in spas and pools or with massages and facials, all the time surrounded by the beautiful Bavarian mountains. Or, one can simply eat, drink and visit with old friends, as we did.
Karma is hard at work in Prague. Consider the Museum of Communism, dedicated to remembering the dark days when communism held sway in what was then Czechoslovakia. It’s located on the second floor of a building along Prague’s fashionable Napřikopě – right above a McDonald’s.
And you only thought you knew about beer before you visited the Pisner Urquell beer museum.
That’s right Bill, you know the best way to travel Europe is to travel light. Between taxis, trains and lots of walking, having no more than two travel bags is the way to go.