Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Traveling light with Jack Reacher
Everywhere in the last few days, newspaper travel writers have bemoaned American Airlines' draconian new $15 charge for the first checked bag, a move most other airlines are likely to adopt. Cram everything into a carry-on, they say. Plan your wardrobe carefully. At your destination wash your skivvies and hang them from the shower curtain rod.
To which I might add: If you're disabled in any way, pipe up so you can board early and score scarce overhead bin space before the mad scrum. And so on.
Or emulate Jack Reacher, that footloose traveler and knight-errant tough guy.
Reacher is, of course, a figment of the imagination of Lee Child, the best-selling whodunit author. Reacher travels the world with only four things in his possession: 1. A passport. 2. An ATM card. 3. A folding toothbrush. 4. The clothes on his back.
He wears those clothes for perhaps three days, then, just before they start to smell, visits a cheap clothing store, perhaps a St. Vincent's resale emporium, perhaps a janitor's uniform store, and buys everything new -- shirt, slacks, socks, underwear. Then he ditches his old ensemble in the nearest wastebasket.
Of course he is hardly a fashion plate, but you can't have everything, and, besides, traveling really, really, really light is the fastest way to get at the bad guys.
I'm not kidding about the disability angle. Long ago I learned to point to my ear and say, "I'm deaf," and board with the mommies and babies and first-class passengers. There are few advantages to hearing impairment, but early boarding is one of them.
By the way, in Child's newest novel, Nothing to Lose, Reacher carries a two-piece collapsible toothbrush, not a folding one. Don't ask me why.