Weight a Traveler Can Carry

Luggage. Lots of it. Close to 300 pounds of it. That’s how much luggage the airlines allowed us to carry-on, check, and stow beneath the seat in front of us. During the flight to Paris, the bulk of it was hidden, handled by the good men and women who transfer baggage between airlines. Nevertheless, when we arrived in Paris, it was again our burden. Thankfully, most of it fit into a locker at the Parisian train station Gare de l’Est. Best investment of €20 I ever spent in my life. But, after a few days, we had to deal with the sheer mass of the luggage again. Carrying around that amount of mass makes every movement an arduous task.

Early in our trip, I learned that I shouldn’t complain, because in this load was all of our possessions. Everything else we had given away, sold, donated or stored at my parents’. What remained with us translated into money we would save in Europe. Oddly, this idea seems to be reiterated in a proverb posted on the wall at customs in the airport in Reykjavik, Iceland. That proverb reads:

Better weight than wisdom a traveler cannot carry.

– Viking Proverb

We took what we could carry and put the rest in the cloud. Yes, maybe we shouldn’t have brought those brass candlesticks that we bought from a flea market in Canada. Or the petrified wood that belonged to Sarah’s paternal grandfather. Or the window treatments….But we did, because having a piece of the familiar in the unfamiliar is invaluable, and as Sarah insists, helps in establishing a home.


P.S. From Paris to Berlin we took the overnight train. Each “room” contained two rows of triple bunk beds, so six beds in each room. Luckily, we only had 5-people in our room, which left extra space for everyone’s luggage. Also we were lucky to be with the nicest Germans, one of whom helped me hoist our luggage overhead and haul it off the train. Together we shared food, wine, and stories before we all decided to retire to sleep. It’s amazing how a little help can do so much.


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