I'm always on edge when I fly. I can never really fall asleep for fear that I will snore loudly or drool on the person next to me. Every bit of turbulence makes me think the plane is about to nosedive, I've even grabbed the arm of the person next to me, and ever since I saw a 20/20 on the ways people can steal your luggage at the security checkpoint, I am a ball of stress, my eyes glued to my bags on the conveyer belt while I blindly bump into the metal detector. To top it all off, I am _always_ certain that this time I fly will be the time I lose my luggage.
To minimize my potential loss, I always pack the items that are most near and dear to my heart in my carry-on luggage. I have a huge hiking backpack that miraculously fits into the overhead storage bins, so in goes every piece of one-of-a-kind clothing I own, a vintage belt, three of my favorite clutches, two handbags I bought in Paris, my jewelry case, my college portfolio, any photo albums, and of course, my computer: home to thousands of photos, every word document I've written since 10th grade and all my beloved mp3s.
This time it was even trickier since I was bringing two laptops with me. I usually store my computer in a smaller marmot lumbar bag I have that matches my backpack. My old computer, a Dell, barely fits, without room for much else. But now with the ibook, a photo album from my backpacking trip in Europe, a folder of UChic information and notes, and a plaque of my recently received college diploma, I was running out of room. Now the new ibook is teeny tiny, so I had no problem fitting it inside the lumbar pack, along with the album, my notebook and the usual carry-on essentials like my wallet, phone, mp3 player, gum, and a couple magazines. I put the diploma and the other laptop into a sleek black computer bag and wondered if I could get away with carrying on three bags. I decided to strap my lumbar pack onto my backpack...since they matched, it made it look like one bag, a _huge_ bag, especially since I had my sleeping bag strapped to the bottom. I looked like I was about to try Everest...carrying a black leather attache.
I had nabbed a ridiculously low last-minute airfare, the only seat left on the plane, a middle seat, so when I arrived at the gate, I checked in at the desk to see if there were any available aisle or window seats. There were, and I opted for window since the extra leg room would allow me to stow both carry-ons I was attempted to sneak on and I wouldn't have to worry about the drool thing since I could rest my head against the window. I slowly backed away from the counter so the flight attendant wouldn't spot my behemoth bag. As soon as I sat down, they called my name over the intercom. _Panic._ I walked up there, sure that either someone in my family had died, or they had spotted my three carry-ons, one of which, was questionably large. The woman who booked my seat gave me a window seat that didn't recline all the way. One that did had opened up, and she'd upgraded me. I thanked her, and slowly backed away again...smiling.
As soon as I sat back down, they called my name again. This time I knew the jig was up. But apparently, a family with a baby carrier wanted my seat, and they wanted to know if I would take a window seat on an exit row. _"That's like the best seat on the plane!"_ I said, _"Of course I'll take it."_ So that was it. I boarded, unstrapped my pack from my backpack so it would fit up above, triumphantly put my two computer cases under my seat and immediately went back to worrying about turbulence, nosediving and snoring.
_*stacy hinojosa is a "recent" college grad and the executive editor of University Chic. Although she insists she'll never fly again, she's already planning a ski trip in March and a beach trip in May with money she doesn't have since she's still unemployed, unless you count a recent stint at Banana Republic. But she might get an upaid internship somewhere eventually, so that would change things slightly...minimally...but not really, no._