Open thread

We have an open thread today all day.

Here’s a topic on my mind.

How to Pack a Suitcase

Many of you will be pleased that packing cubes are recommended.  Right now I’m looking for a more efficient toiletry bag, one that hangs on a hotel door hook..

In shopping for a rolling bag recently I noticed that four wheels (spinners) seem more popular than two wheels.  I prefer two wheels because it’s slightly more compact and I don’t notice the extra ease of a four-wheeler.

At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?

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172 thoughts on “Open thread

  1. I’m looking for the exact right size bag (or baggie) for my “airplane essentials”. The essentials include:
    Emery board, because I ALWAYS break my nails on planes. It’s kind of bizarre actually.
    Phone/tablet charger
    Headphones
    Chapstick
    Sunglasses for when I get off the plane and don’t want to dig around for them.
    Granola bar
    Earplugs
    Wet wipes
    Shout wipes (I can spill anything anywhere. It’s a gift)
    Ibuprofen
    Antacid
    Aux cable for phone in rental car. Again, I don’t want to dig for it.
    Phone charger adapter for rental car. Yes, I basically run from the plane to the rental car.
    Probably a couple other things I’m forgetting.

  2. I actually just use zip lock bags in my backpack for things like that. I have several bags depending on the category of “things”. One is for stuff I usually keep in my purse since I don’t carry a purse on the plane. Another is for meds. Another is for stuff I use on the plane.

  3. What type of suitcase/bag will kid need for Washington DC trip ? I don’t want him to break his back with a too large backpack but I don’t know if some bags like a carry on type roller bag is considered to be for oldies and not cool.

  4. Isn’t the point of 4 wheels maneuverability, rather than ease? Anither difference may be height while you’re pulling it. Pulling the handles extended from some 20″ or 21″ bags that are tipped to roll on their 2 wheels requires me to crouch down a little bit. I guess that has to do with how the wheels are positioned /how much the bag has to tilt to roll on them.

    We’ve gone in waves with packing his suitcase. He did it himself in grade school, then not during the depression, now he’s a HS sophomore and it’s usually a joint effort (“you’ll need x, 2y and 3z”/”should I take x?”). Our trip north this summer involved a family wedding, so I packed a small backpack for our first night/in case of delayed flight, one for the wedding weekend in a hotel, and one for a few days at my parents’. He did a lot of the running–“bring me 3 shirts and 3 pairs of shorts for you, and get my red shirt from the drying rack” while I did folding & organizing.

  5. Louise, my boys took duffle (duffel?) bags on those kinds of trips.
    I love this topic as I am at Midway airport yet again. It is very difficult to buy roller bags with only 2 wheels, which DH prefers because they don’t slide around on the airport shuttle buses or on inclines. I like Baggallini and eBags for carryon bag options. LL bean has a good personal toiletry bag with a hook. I just gave up on the ziploc bag system and found a flat zippered pouch from a company called Bagsmart for all of the electronic accessories.

    And packing cubes rock. I’ve just converted my sister. Thanks Houston!

  6. Louise, you can get a backpack or small duffle with integral wheels. I’d choose the duffle. Is it a coed trip? The girls will all have roller bags. There will likely be instructions about size of bag – nothing bigger than a carryon. However, for 2 weeks of adventure travel (limited luggage allowed on the small planes) I carry on a duffle with no wheels and a small backpack, and I don’t find it hard to manage at all, and I am 50 plus years older than your DS.

  7. DH and I are going to CA in September for a conference with a bunch of richies. I am looking forward to it, it will be like vacation! :D What do rich people wear in southern CA for a conference? It is sponsored by a giant family office/investment firm. I am betting that my usual East Coast suits will not do the trick.

    Also, does anyone have a good suitcase that rolls BUT ALSO acts like a garment bag for when DH has to travel with blazers/suits?

  8. Rocky, I carry most of that around every day. I have a mesh zip bag that was under $5 at The Container Store that I keep in my purse.

  9. Louise,

    I would add that they have honored their lifetime warranty without question. As it might be the bag he uses to tour the home country in a few years etc. you might want to get a decent quality one.

  10. L, I have a rolling garment bag from Travel Pro. It’s pretty great. They have them in a wide range of prices/at several price points.

  11. L, I have a roller bag from Costco (Delsy I think) that has a zippered compartment under the lid with those elastic thingies to hold items in place that is perfect for folded dress shirts and pants. Not sure how a suit jacket would work but it is clearly intended to hold such things.

  12. My kids (12 and 17) started packing their own bags a couple years ago. For my 12 year old, he writes out a packing list and I review it. They both do well – though last weekend we went camping by the WA Coast. The 12 year old heard “beach” and thought it would be like Hawaii and packed accordingly. Unfortunately it was typical WA coast weather (foggy, 60s) so he was a tad cold. Live and learn.

  13. Can anyone comment on Eagle Creek luggage, or recommend brands for kids? When my parents ask about my kid’s birthday and Christmas this year, that’s what I plan to tell them. He got his current ones when he was in first grade and is nownofficially taller than me. Also, what pieces are most useful for college kids/young adults? Dad will probably want to go for the huge one, plus a carry-on and something small like a shoulder bag or backpack. I own a large suitcase, mostly use it for moving and storing out of season clothing. So it’d be useful, especially considering how much moving he’s likely to do in the next decade, but I’m not sure it’s the best choice.

    Louise, will your kid wear clean clothes every day? Mine did at a week long camp, but didn’t change a thing during a 3-night school trip. (Except maybe undies–I can’t remember).

  14. “Isn’t the point of 4 wheels maneuverability, rather than ease?”

    What I meant was ease of maneuverability. I don’t appreciate the difference.

    “However, for 2 weeks of adventure travel (limited luggage allowed on the small planes) I carry on a duffel with no wheels”

    I’ve thought about getting a duffel with no wheels, but I have not really needed one. Maybe for future adventure travel …

    I almost bought a TravelPro bag because it was highly rated and seemed to have nice features. BTW the reason I bought a new bag was that I lost my old one somewhere in my house. How does that happen???

  15. DH and I bought travel backpacks for Italy last year, and Ma and I just used them for the Japan adventure. (This replaced the travel backpack I bought 20 years ago for the 20 countries in 20 days European rail adventure) Having hands free at this stage is paramount. I thought we packed light for the Japan trip, but it was still a lot of luggage, and we could have gone lighter. I think we might be just a few years away from an all backpack trip with kidlets. We took 2 of these:
    https://www.ebags.com/product/osprey/porter-65-travel-backpack/277439?productid=10313634

    School size backpacks for kiddos
    2 hard sided roller-carryon pieces
    Novelty roller for the youngest https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015V11CZE

    @RMS: I love LeSportsac bags for carryon of small essentials. They come in about a million sizes. Unlike packing cubes, they are appropriate to use as a stand alone bag. However, they don’t have any structure, so they can be packed inside other bags. They patterns change frequently, so last season can usually be bought at a steep discount. I had something like this for passports and essentials, that went inside my big suitcase and became my day backpack. They are pretty rugged , as well. https://www.lesportsac.com/Small_Edie_Backpack

  16. This topic is making me nauseous because I am about to unpack two “mega” size trunks on Sunday. It’s our fifth year, so I know what to expect to find. The one step I’ve added is lice check at the lice lady before re entry to our home. I once let her into our house without stopping, and it was the summer that she got lice.

    I send up 2 gallon zip locks because my DD loves packing. I’m pretty lucky because some of my friends just get trunks stuffed with clothes. I sort and go through everything, but I have friends that ship the trunks directly to the laundromat!!

  17. Other life-changing travel purchase this year…Cozyphones. Fleece headbands with integrated speakers. Hard to find cheap over ear phones for small people, and mine are too small for ear buds still. The headband style makes it easy to fall asleep while wearing, which is the dream on every single flight. I got some for myself and was very happy (though I am no audiophile). https://www.cozyphones.com

  18. @Rocky: all rental cars I have been in lately now have the aux plug to charge/play music, so I no longer tote the aux charger or lighter charger.

    I just transitioned from a roller to a spinner (at least for checked luggage) and I adore it. I found that when I had to walk long distances (which I tend to do to get some exercise on business trips), tilting the roller would annoy my elbow/shoulder from the constant pulling, even given the fairly light weight (I tend toward tendinitis — thanks softball). The spinner, OTOH, I can manage in many more configurations — tip, pull upright, push, spin around just for fun, etc. Plus it is significantly lighter in weight, and the wheels spin so freely you’d think it was a skating rink (post-Zamboni) in there. And my packing cubes fit perfectly. :-) I really need to order the smaller size spinner for carry-ons (which is what I use most trips), but I have been hesitant about picking the right size.

    One of the trends I noticed on my recent trip is that everyone now dresses like a semi-hiker. Instead of tennis shoes, it is those tennies that look like hiking boots; instead of sandals, it’s the Teva-rugged-hiker versions; instead of purses/bookbags/etc, everyone has these professional-looking daypacks. I actually sort of lust after one of those snazzy looking backpacks, with all of the various compartments and a waist strap and all, and I saw the cutest pair of slate blue faux-hiking-tennis-shoes — definitely on my list for when we retire and travel more.

    My kids have been packing their bags since maybe 6-7(?). At first, I had them pick out what they wanted to bring and make a pile, so I could check to make sure they had everything. Now I just ask “do you have underwear?” and they roll their eyes and say, “YES, mom, AND a toothbrush, AND deodorant, AND . . . .”

  19. July, I took your comment about “ease” to mean that the suitcase feels lighter, which is a different thing than ease of maneuvering.

  20. Thanks for the suggestions. Somehow we get into arguments on what to take to hold things. Once he wanted to take no bag for a day trip but then there was lunch to carry, plus a drink, money, phone etc so he settled for a drawstring backpack.

    SM – he did shower and change on his school trip. I think packing cubes will be useful otherwise the bag will be a mess.

  21. I would add that they have honored their lifetime warranty without question. As it might be the bag he uses to tour the home country in a few years etc. you might want to get a decent quality one.

    This. It’s amazing how long you can/will use these things. I bought a bag for a ski trip about 20 years ago and we still use it all the freaking time. I have no idea what brand it is, but it has held up amazingly well.

  22. “BTW the reason I bought a new bag was that I lost my old one somewhere in my house. How does that happen???”

    You live in my house? We even have a designated luggage closet, and we still can’t find our small rollaboard.

    Oh, here’s a good stupid airline rule for you: my mom and I showed up for our Condor flight. We both had a suitcase and a carryon — I had a giant tote bag (I mean large — it’s the one I use for the beach because it fits 4 towels, and I was able to fit my CPAP in it along with all the other stuff I’d need for the flight), and she had a regular school-sized backpack. I checked my suitcase, she decided to carry hers on. So the guy tells her that she and I will need to switch the tote bag and the backpack – because my tote bag counted as a “personal item,” but her (much smaller) backpack counted as a carry-on, and she couldn’t have two carry-ons.

    Of course, when we got to the gate they really did not even take a second glance.

  23. “This. It’s amazing how long you can/will use these things. ”

    Yes and no. I bought expensive luggage back before rollers came out. I used it for a few years but now it’s stored in the attic and holds Christmas ornaments. For some luggage new and improved technology like lighter weight materials seem to make them obsolete after a few years.

  24. Young adult. I should’ve asked for recs for luggage for a young adult, because that is the stage we’re looking at. Yikes! This decision is likely to give me analysis paralysis (a phrase I first heard from Laura Davenport here), so I’m tempted to go with what they have at TCS.

    I think there was a big shift in luggage thinking/tech about 20 years ago, and then incremental change since then. The suitcases I got in HS are relegated to the kinds of uses July mentions, but the ones I got the same time DD got his are in constant use, with no threat of being replaced anytime soon. (Except for the duffle bag–a handle came off. I meant to get it repaired but then had a friend visit while on a work trip to the US. The airline lost his bag entirely, so we hit some outlet stores and I gave him that duffle bag. His suitcase was delivered to his home a few days after his trip ended. I got a Merona bag from the accessories section at Target).

  25. “At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?”

    We started this last year – so around 8. We check the contents to make sure he doesn’t forget underwear though, and sometimes add items (like the jacket he never thinks he is going to wear). Same with his backpack of items to entertain himself on planes/car trips.

  26. Ouch. Wish I would’ve known that clicking on that link for the heck of it would cost me one of my before-the-paywall articles at NYT for the month.

  27. “At what age did your children become mostly responsible for packing their own suitcases?”

    My oldest still doesn’t do this. Maybe the next trip. I did use the packing cubes for our month long trip to RI/Cape Cod and they were amazing. Each person had a cube and all of our clothes fit inside and it made keeping organized while up there much easier.

    In other news, my oldest who had an appendectomy while we were up in RI seems to have some sort of tissue poking out of the scar line, so I now need to take her to another surgeon down here. Yuck! It’s not infected according to her pediatrician but he says they may need to add some stitches or cauterize it.

  28. We have very nice but huge suitcases that we longer use. I have been wanting to get rid of them but DH refuses. In the meanwhile we have bought smaller cases that we now use. Our needs have changed plus airline rules changed as well.

  29. ““If and when you need it, you can buy it” are words to live by.”

    This is our motto. I’ve bought some kind of toiletry on almost every trip I’ve ever taken if the hotel freebie was unsuitable. I definitely still have some toothpaste somewhere with both French/English from all our Canada trips. It’s never really a big deal.

  30. ““If and when you need it, you can buy it” are words to live by.”

    Yup, although I take into account the inconvenience of having to shop for stuff. So I’d rather not be having to run out to an inconveniently located drugstore and deal with a language barrier to buy some ibuprofen, for example. But for the most part there are just a handful of essentials that I cannot leave behind.

  31. S&M – You can clear your cookies before the end of the month and start over again for NYT. Doing it once in a rare while is not a hanging offense. I decided to pay for the Boston Globe on the teaser offer for 4 months to see whether it is really worth it for unlimited clickthrough. Jury still out. I long ago subscribed to NYT, especially because we have the puzzles as well.

    On the topic, I have been looking at a small (international sized carryon) hard sided roller bag. I will probably get one before the next cruise. My US sized carryon is usually expanded and checked so that I don’t have to deal with finding travel sized product for longer trips or lifting it up way over my head into the bins. I understand the issue about the four wheels – they slide on the subway or on inclines, but like LfB I push them to the side. Pulling the two wheelers is much more difficult.

  32. I didn’t think that clearing cookies works, but I know you can simply Google the headline for any article, and you can always open an article from a search engine. So you browse the paper in one tab, and then open the articles through Google in another.

  33. Meme, I don’t want to clear all the cookies. Wonder if there’s a way to just delete some.

  34. Yes, there is. It varies by browser – just Google “[my browser] delete cookies for one site” and that will get you instructions.

  35. I have no idea. It worked for the Globe before I bit the bullet and subscribed. I can call up the full list of cookies and clear only the ones I want to reset. I do it all the time when I am searching for air fares.

  36. “If and when you need it, you can buy it” are words to live by.”

    I kept this in mind when getting school supplies. I made sure we had everything on the list, but do we really need 6 packs of index cards on day 1? 12 blue, 12 black and 12 red pens (per kid, at the same school) on day 1? I’m guessing no.

    Ada – thanks for the cozy phones suggestion. I’ve been thinking about getting the kids headphones.

  37. You can read NYT in incognito mode.

    Grace, my husband and I each have a version of this (older version): https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/73882?feat=507361-GN3&page=personal-organizer-toiletry-bag-medium&csp=f

    One caveat on the you-can-buy-it-there rule is that in Japan, ibuprofen is not sold over-the-counter.

    I’ve been wondering whether we’ll want to swap out some or all of our durable but heavy-framed Kirkland luggage for the lightweight stuff that’s been showing up in stores in recent years. It’s nice to have the suitcase not be already heavy even before anything goes into it.

    Our kids started packing for themselves in elementary school, with some assistance earlier on (except for my daughter who’s been making packing lists for herself and packing ahead since early elementary).

  38. Wow, deleting individual cookies–talk about transformational!

    Kerri, my kid insisted on buying all the packs of loose leaf paper until he picked up the whole load he was planning to carry in his backpack.

    There are also hats with speakers in them. It’s too warm for a knit hat here, but they might be great in NYC or Alaska.

  39. Kerri, it depends if your school does the communal supply thing like most seem to do these days. It drove me nuts when we’d spend time picking out the things that the kids wanted, and then they’d have to turn them into the teacher for them to be shared with the class.

  40. HM, incognito mode would be a good idea if you knew ahead of time that the link you were about to click on went to a site with a paywall, (unless you chose to just skip the article, based on knowing that)

  41. Denver – this is the new, fancy, private school, so I’d be surprised if there was communal sharing. I didn’t have to buy Kleenex, wet wipes or hand sanitizer this year.

  42. Thank you, Honolulu Mother! That looks perfect and now I just have to select the size and color.

  43. Denver – thanks. Her pediatrician didn’t seem super worried just thought it may need some new stitches or something so fingers crossed that’s all it is. Now on to gathering all of the records to be sent.

  44. On my last few solo Southwest trips I landed deep in the B group even when checking in 24 hours ahead on the dot. But actually now prefer boarding then because, on a full flight, I can choose my seat mate rather than the other way around.
    I look for compact women of a certain age, who will not spill over the armrest and are unlikely to whip out a bag of smelly messy food. DH thinks I am nuts; he always wants to get on early.

  45. Somehow, we got all the school supplies we needed for three kids, on Tax Free Weekend, from Walmart, for $80. And that includes a 15-pack of EXPO dry erase markers for $15 (teachers each requested a few, this was the way to realize a volume discount, we’ll split them into sandwich bags).

    But DW had them go through their stuff from last year to determine what items remained serviceable, which probably saved quite a bit.

  46. July – I second HM’s suggestion. We have 2 older versions (one is probably 15 years old, the other 10 years old) – a small and a large. The large is large enough for the 2 of us to share and pack full sized bottles. The small is perfect for a short, solo trip.

    I’ll be using the packing cubes next month when we travel to the in-laws. I’m excited to see how I can get them to work for the boys. I expect trial and error.

    If I asked my boys to pack, one would stare at me and the other would pack food pouches, legos, and maybe one of his little brother’s rattles. And he would proceed to not share said rattle and even stare his little brother down while the guy is crying for his rattle.

    DH is the sorter/fetcher and I’m the packer. But I have mad skills.

  47. “But DW had them go through their stuff from last year to determine what items remained serviceable, which probably saved quite a bit.”

    Yes. This. I will never buy crayons or colored pencils ever again.

  48. @Rocky: all rental cars I have been in lately now have the aux plug to charge/play music, so I no longer tote the aux charger or lighter charger.

    And yet, the one time you don’t bring them, you get the stripped-down Versa.

  49. “aux plug to charge/play music”

    They never charge very quickly in those, though, do they?

  50. On my last few solo Southwest trips I landed deep in the B group even when checking in 24 hours ahead on the dot. But actually now prefer boarding then because, on a full flight, I can choose my seat mate rather than the other way around.

    That’s because the first 15 spots go to the people buying the business fares or whatever they call it. Then the people for whom it is a connecting flight can check in at their first flight time.Then there are all the people who paid the $15 for the auto check-in. So that puts you way down.

  51. And yet, the one time you don’t bring them, you get the stripped-down Versa.

    Like a hotel, if you ask they usually have a bucket of forgotten adapters, cords, etc.

  52. DD, yeah it really has changed in just a year. I NEVER get in the A group anymore. But always check the bag do I don’t care about overhead bin space and on a short flight don’t really care about window vs aisle. The person sitting next to me is a far more significant factor.

  53. My boys started packing their own stuff (from a list I wrote) at roughly 6 and 8. Since we don’t check luggage and sit at the back of the plane, we have the duffle bags with pockets on the end and along the side that fit under the seat. Their only toiletry need is a toothbrush and ideally a comb. For camp, I sent a spare pillowcase for dirty laundry management.

  54. Like a hotel, if you ask they usually have a bucket of forgotten adapters, cords, etc.

    That’s a good tip. But I’ve been using Hertz, and the Gold members (just fill out the form) can pick your own car from the lineup. No stopping at any kiosk. The drawback is when they’re out of decent cars, and yes I’m sure I could go to the desk and hustle a better one. But the value of being able to walk right off the shuttle bus to the row of cars, pick a car, and drive off, is pretty high.

  55. “For camp, I sent a spare pillowcase for dirty laundry management.”

    Great minds think alike.

    I also sent them with their personalized ThirtyOne bags (of MLM infamy) ’cause at least they have their names on them. When we got there, most others had either these wooden trunks at the foot of the bed, or big plastic Rubbermaid containers to the same effect. Live and learn. I hope it was simple enough to manage everything they needed for the week.

  56. We did not buy the trunk for summer camp – sent her with two duffle bags and it was fine. They give them laundry bags because laundry is sent out once per week, but I think only half of her socks came home in any case.

  57. Quick survey, and I hope I don’t need to do Survey Monkey here for anonymity:

    How many frequent flyer miles do you have?
    Are they on one specific airline, or multiple airlines?

    Between DH and me, we have just shy of 1 million, all on United. I think DH has some on American too, but not so many.

  58. “I look for compact women of a certain age, who will not spill over the armrest and are unlikely to whip out a bag of smelly messy food”

    That might be me, in the aisle seat of course. Except that I may have a bag of smelly McDonald’s burger and fries.

    Actually, I haven’t flown SW in a while, but it seems B boarding could usually get me an aisle seat.

  59. “I look for compact women of a certain age, who will not spill over the armrest and are unlikely to whip out a bag of smelly messy food”

    That’s probably me. Travelling solo is best, so peaceful.

  60. I’ll throw another topic out here. There’s a family we’ve been friends with for years – DS and their son B are good friends and will be sophomores, DD and their daughter A are friendly but not really friends and will be freshman, and they are both playing softball, and DW and the mom are very good friends.

    Last year, B did or said a lot of things at school that made a lot of the African American kids think he is racist, DS isn’t sure exactly what it was. Earlier this week at softball practice, DD said she and A were talking with a couple of the older girls on the team who said that B is racist. The mom emailed DW this morning asking if she heard about it, and that she is very upset that neither of the girls denied that B is racist and wants to talk to DW about it.

    We’ve talked to the kids a lot about needing to stick up for their friends, but I know how it is in situations like that. We’re interested to see what the mom has to say but I’m not sure there is much we can do to get DD to speak up in a situation like that.

  61. compact women of a certain age

    That could be the name of The Totebag’s in house band.

  62. I’ve always been a super light packer. Now with a baby, I am the exact opposite- I feel like I need 3 changes of clothes per day for the inevitable spills and stains. And endless entertainment for the plane, etc. Oh well, soon enough we will hit the age when a tablet loaded with Dinosaur Train will be all we need for a smooth flight.

  63. Scarlett, your comment “compact women of a certain age” preference reminded me of when we flew on a 2×2 plane out of Cedar Rapids. Mr WCE and I each sat by a twin and DS1 (age 4) was across the aisle by himself. He fortunately wound up next to a grandmotherly lady who was very nice to him and switched seats to let him see out the window during take-off.

  64. “One caveat on the you-can-buy-it-there rule is that in Japan, ibuprofen is not sold over-the-counter.”

    Very good point — we had the same experience in France when DS forgot his allergy pills. I forget which version he was taking, but the lady at the pharmacy looked at me as if I had asked for crack — oh, nonononono, you need a prescription from a doctor for that. And yet the other versions were totally fine. And IIRC, Sudafed was freely available OTC as well. Go figure.

    @DD: But does your daughter actually believe the other girls were wrong? Maybe she didn’t say anything because she agreed with the other girls and was just trying to be noncommital to save A’s feelings, since the families are close. I’d be pretty hesitant to put any pressure on her whatsoever to speak up, for your “you know how it is” reasons. But if I did, I’d sure want to be 100% confident that she thinks B has been wrongly accused.

    And really, if the mom has a problem with other kids not sticking up for her son, she needs to start with her own DD instead of worrying about yours.

  65. LfB, the mom is a “forceful personality” and I’m sure she made her expectations with her DD very clear. As for what B actually said/did, from what DS has said, it sounds like it was probably social awkwardness in trying to fit in. He’s unfortunately one of the kids who tends to be a target anyway.

  66. DD, this is a little different from having someone say her brother’s friend is an asshole, or a moron, or something, where she could well say, “He’s my brother’s good friend and he’s always seemed like a good/ sharp guy to me” or something. One is a character issue, the other is an assessment of a person’s expressed views (which could even be accurate).

    I agree with RMS, the real question is what on earth he said or did to get that reputation at school. His friend’s little sister saying, “Oh no, he doesn’t see color at all!” is not going to fix things and depending on what it was that’s behind this, could make it look like she agrees with whatever sentiments he was expressing that got him this reputation. Ditto for his own little sister. I know you’re probably not in a position to suggest this to his mom, but she should probably focus her concern more on what’s behind all this and whether he believes it’s a misunderstanding or wants to change his reputation than on whether his sister is adequately supportive.

  67. “this is the new, fancy, private school, so I’d be surprised if there was communal sharing.”

    Ours does communal supplies. But no – we don’t buy wet wipes or kleenex Our list does include a small plant for the child to care for and there is a list of “items for the class” that are optional donations (one of these is LP records for the turntable and pet food for the class pet). I really want to suggest that the parent fundraising organization offers boxes of supplies for each grade for a small upcharge, but I don’t want to get roped into organizing that effort. So I keep quiet.

  68. Oh – and one of the required items is a public library card. I don’t know how odd that is. The school has a small library, but the older kids take periodic trips to the big library downtown for additional research.

  69. “But actually now prefer boarding then because, on a full flight, I can choose my seat mate rather than the other way around.
    I look for compact women of a certain age, who will not spill over the armrest and are unlikely to whip out a bag of smelly messy food. DH thinks I am nuts; he always wants to get on early.”

    On solo trips – I am with you 100%. I did this for my recent business trip, and it was great. I took middle seats in the 2nd or 3rd row (so that there was a seat in front of me to stash my purse), next to the exact types of travelers you describe. I think that they were happy that I was the one that chose to sit next to them as well.

    For family trips, one of us will spring for the $15 when booking, then take the kid with us & save the last seat. We’ve pushed the limits of family boarding, even though he is small for his age.

  70. Ivy – kid’s elementary school does supply boxes. Parent orders it from a company online and each child gets their box shipped to school. The supplies are exactly what is required and all the same so no hassle in the classroom.

  71. @Louise – Yes – that’s exactly what I want! I am perfectly happy to donate $20 to the PTA in the process. But I don’t want to unwittingly volunteer to run the thing. I’d rather trek to Target and put in a big Amazon order than that.

  72. she should probably focus her concern more on what’s behind all this and whether he believes it’s a misunderstanding or wants to change his reputation than on whether his sister is adequately supportive.

    I do think that is her overriding concern. We’ll see what she says when DW talks to her.

  73. Louise/Ivy – our school doe the same with school supplies. You just pay $75 or whatever it is to some company. This year they shipped it to our homes and then we had to lug it into school which was slightly less convenient (in previous years the PTA did the whole thing and it just went directly to the classroom).

  74. Another thing somewhat related. We’ve been carpooling for picking up the girls from softball practice this week and DD was sick yesterday and didn’t go, but it was my day to pick them, so I still picked up A and drove her home. The whole time I had in the back of my mind the stories you hear about when adult men are alone with teenage girls and the accusations that arise (either true or false).

  75. Louise – that is the way to do it! I know some PTAs coordinate supply boxes; ours at the old school didn’t. The new school sent the list with a link to an Amazon page with nearly all the stuff. Very handy.

    I have a parent orientation at the end of August, as do the kids. We are simply blown away by how the school communicates so effectively and frequently. Poor communication/ planning by the administration was the biggest parent gripe at the old school. (Then of course I think, well that is part of what we’re paying for.)

  76. Ivy – the name of the site is Schooltoolbox.com
    You can suggest but duck out of running it.

  77. I don’t know what it is about the middle class, but so many of them seem to just love shopping for its own sake. Thinking of public school parents where I live vs. Buckhead, or private school parents.

    The issue with the EXPO markers should be the most obvious reason why it would be better to simply pool money and put together common supply issues. It also seems that they could do a hybrid model by which the teacher who requires six specific pocket folders (with prongs!!) in six specific colors could simply buy 22 of each and get reimbursed, and the Moms could still buy their personalized pencils and pouches and whatever.

  78. Milo, I’m pretty sure that some teachers at my kids’ school purchase take-home folders on their own so they are standard. Staples lets teachers stock up at the super-sale price and I guess the teachers figure it’s worth $6 so everyone has a yellow take-home folder.

  79. Kerri – if at all you are not getting the communications your email has somehow dropped from the list :-). It will feel odd when you don’t see the weekly or daily email :-).

  80. Louise – the new school has an app for communicating with parents. The buses have gps trackers so parents can tell how much longer it will take for the bus to arrive. I am feeling very old school with all this new fangled technology!

    At the previous school, many families did not have consistent intranet/email access so a lot of things still had to be backpacked home, which meant it often did not make it home or to the parents. The PTA was always struggling with how to improve communications.

  81. Not your typical Great Loop article:

    http://www.thedevilstrip.com/home/crossing-a-wake-one-familys-journey-through-the-great-american-loop/

    He and Wendy planned to complete it and become “loopers” when they retired, but when their daughter Mia was born with a severe congenital heart defect, they quickly learned that life is too short.

    Once Mia’s health felt stable enough for the trip, Wendy and Bobby bought a boat named La Cigale from a family friend. They converted the bathroom shower inside the boat into a storage space for Mia’s medical supplies. They also used the hooks inside the boat to hang Mia’s feeding bags.

    They were determined to take the trip with Mia, as a family.

    “They can’t fix her heart,” says Wendy. “We were buying time with the surgeries. We knew if we didn’t do it and something happened, we would regret that we didn’t do [the trip] together, as a family.”

  82. @Louise – Thanks! May be too late for this year – maybe I can suggest it now for next year.

  83. DD — I’m interested in hearing the resolution of the allegedly racist kid case. It sounds as if your DD was between a rock and a hard place since she did not know what B said or did. I could see this blowing up into a bullying charge that the school would want to handle.

  84. Atlanta – good luck with the follow-up surgery/fix!

    Our nanny just took the kids this week to get the school supplies. I think it was about $80 – each of them had a different list (based on grade). The deadline for the PTA ordering was in *June* so we missed that (probably one of the things that came home on the last day of school crumpled at the bottom of the backpack with popsicle juice on it).

    Meme – the Globe’s paywall is the WORST. 2 articles per month and they won’t let you read any in incognito mode!

  85. Meme – the Globe’s paywall is the WORST. 2 articles per month and they won’t let you read any in incognito mode!

    The nerve of them wanting to get paid for their work :)

    Of course the newspapers brought this on themselves when they originally put all their content online for free. By the time they realized giving your product away for free was a bad business model it was too late.

  86. MMM earns $400,000 a year by giving away free content online. Or they could follow the Wall Street Journal’s lead and use a real firewall.

  87. I finally bought a WSJ subscription, but I think I had found a hack to read some of their articles without paying. I could always read articles linked through FB, and through the author’s Twitter feed. But that still left many blocked behind their firewall.

  88. RMS– I’d add a jacket, a tablet (Kindle in my case), perhaps some old-fashioned reading material, a small power bank, and a water bottle to that list. And pluralize the granola bar, or augment it with some other non-perishable snacks.

    Like July, I use a backpack, and ziplocs for some of the smaller items (e.g., chargers). Mine has a padded slot for a laptop that I use for my Kindle. It was about $10 at Costco.

    I always bring a jacket with me on a plane. Sometimes it’s pretty cold inside them; once I was really glad I’d packed my ski jacket in my carryon.

  89. Finn, I was just listing the stuff that needs to go in the baggie. I always bring a sweater, a Kindle or tablet, and either water or Diet Coke.

  90. “Isn’t the point of 4 wheels maneuverability, rather than ease? Anither difference may be height while you’re pulling it.”

    Yes, the two-wheeled suitcases that you tilt and pull are typically optimized for people in a fairly narrow height/arm length range. Spinners work well with a much broader range of people.

    Spinners are great for kids. They make travelling with self-propelled kids easier by allowing them to help move your luggage.

  91. “What type of suitcase/bag will kid need for Washington DC trip ?”

    How long?

    When we sent DS on an east coast trip, he took one suitcase (IIRC, a carryon-sized spinner) and a day pack. I don’t suggest the drawstring bag for the day pack because it can get uncomfortable after a while, with the drawstrings digging into shoulders.

  92. DD, why would you want to blindly stick up for someone without knowing what happened, or tell your kids to do that?? I especially don’t get it when we’re talking about something that often isn’t immediately apparent but can be insidious, hard to shake, and seriously damaging for people around that person.

    Scarlett, I was going to say send DH ahead to secure luggage spots, but if you check then I guess it doesn’t matter. If there are two of you, I would imagine the seat mate is not as big a deal as if you were traveling alone.

  93. “Between DH and me, we have just shy of 1 million, all on United.”

    Don’t you ever redeem them?

  94. “I think only half of her socks came home in any case.”

    So do you have a bunch of widowed socks?

  95. School supplies for high school come out to much less than middle school because there are no wipes, paper towels, etc. I always got that stuff when it was optional, because there were some kids in his MS for whom the required supplies were a stretch. Teachers at that school were too grateful for the occasional extra binder or notebook. This year, DS claimed all summer that he would reuse his binders from last year, then decided after we picked up his schedule and got supplies lists from the teachers that he wanted all new binders, and all hard cover. I’m giving him a few days to make sure that works out in practice as well as he expects, but am planning to drop off the used ones at school sometime next week (first day of classes was today).

  96. L – do you work for free? just read blogs if you don’t want vetted and thoughtful news. You get what you pay for.

  97. DS just got his own credit card and checking account. Any recommendations for how to keep track of those accounts?

    One option is the old-fashioned paper check register.

    I don’t think Quicken is an option for him; he has a Mac, and I think Intuit discontinued supported a Mac version.

    Any thoughts on Mint?

  98. “sounds like it was probably social awkwardness in trying to fit in. He’s unfortunately one of the kids who tends to be a target anyway.”

    The seesaw approach, putting other people down to raise yourself up, is not unusual. Most bullies begin by being bullied themselves.
    You may object to the term “bullying”, because it isn’t apparently physical, but how much difference is there if he’s using predominant social pressures against kids to try to improve his own status? Your son is in a tough spot; wouldn’t a true friend help the kid see that what he’s doing isn’t only objectionable but is also counterproductive? I totally understand that that’s a tall order for your son. My kid would probably just avoid contact with the other boy.

  99. Finn – DH has the Amex app that all charges show up on (which is slightly inconvenient for me but keeps me more honest anyhow). I just do the whole old fashioned online log in to the two credit cards I use most often and my bank account once a week. I found Mint to be too laborious.

  100. DS just got his own credit card and checking account. Any recommendations for how to keep track of those accounts?

    Excel.

  101. Finn – I’ve always kept track of my checking and credit card accounts by logging in and checking the balance.

    Just let him figure this out on his own.

  102. July, its more likely that the kid’s mom will claim she’s being bullied. If he’s doing this as a way to get social acceptance, he might not be calling kids names to their faces, but acting more like the dad next next me at my kid’s BB game last week. There was another father who was way out of line, and many of us were upset. That parent was black. The guy next to me, who’s white, said “we don’t need gang fights at the Y”. I pointed out immediately that there is no call for that kind of accusation, as there was no sign of a “gang”, just a dad who’s a jerk and doesn’t understand the premise of supporting all the kids and teaching kids to be good sports. My guess is that kind of crap, using racist stereotypes to explain the behavior of one individual, is the kind of racist crap that this kid is spreading in an attempt to make himself look better. But of course, we don’t know that about this kid. I’m just guessing, based on what DD said.

  103. My kid’s public elementary had the option to order supply boxes, and there was a lot of pressure to get them. Specific supplies for each class must’ve already been known, because the prices were very specific. But the lists of what to get on your own weren’t distributed to parents until the absolute last minute, which made life difficult if you wanted to buy recycled or whatever. The boxes didn’t emphasize that kind of thing at all, nor did the mountains of school supplies at Target, Office Depot, etc.

  104. DD, why would you want to blindly stick up for someone without knowing what happened, or tell your kids to do that??

    If my kids see their friends being picked on or bullied, why would I not want them to stick up for their friends?

    The seesaw approach, putting other people down to raise yourself up, is not unusual. Most bullies begin by being bullied themselves.
    You may object to the term “bullying”, because it isn’t apparently physical, but how much difference is there if he’s using predominant social pressures against kids to try to improve his own status?

    Let me try to clarify since you obviously didn’t understand what I meant. Based on what DS has told us, it sounds like the kid said or did things in an attempt to be friendly that came off wrong, not that he was intentionally putting down or trying to bully anyone.

  105. Oops–didn’t mean to say that the kid’s mom will claim to being bullied, lol. But I do think it’s likely that she’ll feel her snowflake is being picked on/bullied just because he happens to slander masses of people when he feels awkward.

  106. DD, I don’t understand. He was talking to black kid’s and said things they found racist?

  107. “Excel.”

    Good idea. It helps that DS has already installed Excel on his Mac.

    Have you tried this? I believe that at least some of my credit card companies facilitate a download of transactions to Excel. I’ll have DS check if his (Discover) does this.

    BTW, Discover gave him a card on his own, no co-signee needed.

  108. “But the lists of what to get on your own weren’t distributed to parents until the absolute last minute”

    Around here, I’ve seen school lists posted in a lot of stores. Sometimes the locations of those items in the store, or status (e.g., sold out) are also listed.

  109. You mean this kind of stuff, and he doesn’t understand how it’s racist?

    No, I mean just trying to talk in black slang and such. I’m sure there are a lot of 15 year olds who don’t understand how that might be misinterpreted.

    Oops–didn’t mean to say that the kid’s mom will claim to being bullied, lol. But I do think it’s likely that she’ll feel her snowflake is being picked on/bullied just because he happens to slander masses of people when he feels awkward.

    Wow. Just wow. I get that your son is black so you are more sensitive to this stuff, but wow. I have no idea how you interpreted this from anything I posted.

  110. Between DH and me, we have just shy of 1 million, all on United. I think DH has some on American too, but not so many.

    You have 10 first class tickets on Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa to anywhere in the world and they’re just sitting there? What the f$&k is wrong with you?

    Lufty:

    Singapore:

    With the Japan tickets booked, I’m down to 400k and a few 100k hotel points. But I try and not let them sit too long. Airlines devalue their points fairly regularly so it’s a depreciating asset so it makes sense to use them and not let them accumulate.

  111. “Instead of tennis shoes, it is those tennies that look like hiking boots”

    Trail runners?

  112. “I think there was a big shift in luggage thinking/tech about 20 years ago, and then incremental change since then.”

    I think the big shift started when airlines started charging for checked baggage (beyond the previous charges for extra or oversized bags). At that time the weight limit for checked baggage also dropped from 70# to 50#.

    While the LWD dimensions defining the oversize threshold didn’t change, suitcases right at that limit, especially the sturdy, heavy ones, became much less useful.

  113. Have you tried this? I believe that at least some of my credit card companies facilitate a download of transactions to Excel. I’ll have DS check if his (Discover) does this.

    Yes, I download bank statements and credit card statements in CSV format and import them into Excel. Even my TIAA account will let me do that.

    Moreover, if your DS wants a checkbook register template or some particular template for credit cards, etc., Excel has zillions of templates for all kinds of financial stuff.

  114. What the f$&k is wrong with you?

    LOL. Just lazy, I guess. I think in the back of our minds, we’re saving the points for when DH retires and we don’t want to spend cold hard cash on airline tickets. But you’re right, the points do lose value.

    The other thing we do with them is give them away. When friends or relatives need to fly somewhere, and their money is tight, we’ll offer miles. People will accept a flight on FF miles when they would never accept a ticket that you purchased, even if the purchase price is something like $250. I’ve seen it multiple times. DH’s Christmas present bundle to his secretary used to include gift cards to Talbots (she shops there) and 50K miles so she could visit her sister.

  115. RMS,

    Just keep in mind, depending on the award, those 1 million points could potentially be worth $115,000. If you’re giving them to people to fly to NYC or Seattle, you could be getting as little as $10k worth of value out of them.

  116. Yeah, all this time I’d been thinking that miles are worth roughly a penny each. But DW has opened my eyes to the fact that in many cases, it’s much cheaper to buy tickets using miles than cash if we assume that exchange rate.

    So much so that we’re now pretty much out of miles, and we’ve started using our mileage cards more than we had been previously.

  117. “just trying to talk in black slang and such.” is #19 on that list (well, except for the alcohol)

  118. And OTOH there are cases when cash prices are much lower than mileage prices, so it makes sense to compare the two.

  119. People will accept a flight on FF miles when they would never accept a ticket that you purchased.

    Just do what I do and buy them a ticket and tell them you used your points – they won’t know the difference. There is no way I’m giving someone 50k points for a $400 ticket to Denver when for 10k more points I can get a $3500 ticket from JAL.

  120. Denver, so he’s simply assuming something about people’s personalities and interests based on a physical trait?

  121. If you’re giving them to people to fly to NYC or Seattle, you could be getting as little as $10k worth of value out of them.

    Oh, I know. It’s irritating to use miles when $250 in cash would take care of it, and (shhh…don’t tell anybody!) we’ve actually done that. We’ve told the recipient that the tickets are “just FF miles” and then paid the cash because it made more sense. We do it when we’re trying to help and some people, especially at the lower income levels, don’t really get the picture of how frequent flyer miles work. It just sounds “free” so they don’t feel like they’re taking money from us. It’s perfectly fine with us.

  122. Yeah, all this time I’d been thinking that miles are worth roughly a penny each.

    Oh no, the Japan tickets were $7500 for 200k points or 0.0375 a point (those are AA points used on JAL). United points can be worth up to $0.115 a point if you were to, for example, book NYC to Singapore in the bed pictured above that would be either $23,000 round trip or 200k United miles.

  123. S&M,

    I’ll book mark that one! My travel blogs usually mention any sales that come up so that’s how I usually keep track of it.

  124. Rhett, how easy is it to get those tickets with points? I haven’t accumulated points in years, but back when I did and paid attention to that stuff, you’d have to book the tickets the day they released them.

  125. “especially at the lower income levels, don’t really get the picture of how frequent flyer miles work”

    Some of us at the middle-income levels don’t get it either

  126. Rhett, how easy is it to get those tickets with points?

    It’s fairly easy for anywhere other than Australia, provided you know what you’re doing. Although if you don’t consider it a hobby, I’d use a booking service as it’s kind of an involved process.

  127. Rhett, thank you for that link. I need to educate myself to take better advantage of the points system. I find the whole process of acquiring tickets and hotel reservations a bit baffling, with an ongoing sense that I could be using airport lounges, upgraded seats, and other perks if I only played my cards right. Although I don’t fly that much we have accumulated a lot of points and we joke that’s our retirement travel fund.

    All that being said, it can be a time suck to find the best deals. In booking an upcoming trip I had to coordinate with another traveler who would not pin down her travel dates. I was impatient and kept seeing prices fluctuate a little and trend upwards. But then when my traveling companion finally nailed down her dates I was able to get my tickets at a better price than before. I don’t mind not getting the “best” deal but it irks me to pay $600 for a domestic flight that I could have purchased for $300, for example.

  128. So, any suggestions for west coast rental car companies beyond the big names that appear on the major websites? We have completely struck out on cars for our vacation next week in Portland — as in, DH found one van for rent for $3500 for one week. DH is now looking for cheap used cars that he could buy for $1K and then donate when we leave for the deduction, which seems rather ridiculous for a week.

    The frustration is that we don’t even really need a car except to get to and from the beach (we’re doing @3 days in Portland and @4 days at the beach 90 minutes away). But I don’t know how to get there and back without it (at least, not at 4-5 AM on a Sunday morning to get to the airport in time for our return flight).

  129. Social Security update. I filed online on August 8, Tuesday. This morning at 8 am “Mr White” (at least it wasn’t Mr Pink) called me from the Atlanta service center to go over the details and tell me that I did not need to wait until Oct 1 (belt and suspenders, my birthday is in Sept) to be considered full retirement age, so we will start the restricted spousal payments next month. I even went over the medicare payment details with him. Now we’ll see when the deposit hits my account.

  130. LfB – Rhett is right – just arrange for car service if you really don’t need a car except to get from from Point A to point B, and from point B to airport.

  131. @Louise: are you doing your best Rhett impersonation? ;-) $8-12K!!

    Thanks for the car service idea — I am checking with DH and my sis to confirm that we have enough cars for the other local needs, then will call to see if these guys have any availability.

  132. Finn – on your kid tracking his checking and credit card accounts…online banking app/website. B of A at least lets me download everything to excel if I want to sorts etc. My oldest just uses the website and watches his balances very closely. My 20yo, different bank, does the same. Hell. even my youngest, also starting college in a couple of weeks, just uses the BA app on his phone to monitor his accounts. I’m sure your kid can figure it out.

  133. Wacky, offbeat suggestion, but the wheels turn–see if Lowes/Home Depot have extended cab pickup trucks to rent. There will be plenty of room for your luggage!

  134. LfB, have your tried websites like Hotwire or Priceline? Hotwire will sometimes find low prices from some rental companies you may not have heard of, and that don’t advertise heavily. (BTW, interesting business model– rather than spend on advertising, try to keep prices low enough to be one of the first options shown on sites like Hotwire).

    I’m a bit surprised Rhett, nor anyone else, has mentioned Lyft (or Uber).

    If one of the legs is to the airport, you might check out an airport shuttle service.

  135. Finn, I think part of the problem is that Portland is swamped with people who are there for the eclipse, so there are no cars available (and for all I know, Uber and Lyft might do huge price hikes).

  136. I’m a bit surprised Rhett, nor anyone else, has mentioned Lyft (or Uber).

    90 minutes from a city may mean there are no Ubers around and if they have some coverage they may not be around at 5:30am. She could uber there but have no way to get back.

  137. We have found Uber so far in every coastal town we have been to – including little ports in North Carolina. One time I had to try a couple times and wait 20 minutes for the guy to drive to our location. I love Uber – it amazes me how quickly it has transformed how we move around places. I still can’t quite figure out how they are not yet profitable. They have probably replaced 25% of all taxi business and created new demand without buying a fleet of cars to do it. Shouldn’t they be close to being profitable at this point?

  138. Denver,

    Their business model is based on not having to spend $1 million on a taxi medallion and vastly better customer service. The contractor vs. employee is a minor factor. Also, IIRC cabbies were never employees and have always been independent contractors.

  139. Rhett, you mean vastly variable, not “vastly superior”. Although some Cust service may be better, there is nothing in place to deter awful treatment from Uber/Lyfft drivers. I’m not so sure they’re always cheaper either. This summer, our flight got in way too late for anyone to drive the hour to pick us up at the airport. I bargained a cabbie to the rate quoted on Uber, incidentally about the same as spending the night in a hotel and having someone come pick us up.

  140. there is nothing in place to deter awful treatment from Uber/Lyfft drivers</I

    The star rating sutra is in place. If a driver falls below a 4.? they get banned.

  141. Rhett, is that four out of five, and one star is the lowest possible? Then a driver can give sterling service to four passengers and rape every fifth? Or four-star service to six, five-star service to three, and mug the tenth? Even if it’s “only” 1 in 100 or even 0.1% who are taken advantage of, that’s far too many for me.

  142. “I’m not so sure they’re always cheaper either. ”

    I thought demand-based pricing was touted as a feature, not a bug.

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