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Lightening Our Load

by Tara

We've just noticed that our tickets to Bangkok with Air China allow a maximum of 20 kilograms in checked luggage per person. After calling around, we've definitively confirmed that the overage fee per kilo is $20. With bicycles that weigh in excess of 60kg each when fully loaded, we have to lighten our load.

Making matters worse, our tickets are non-refundable. There is no way out of this without losing some money. Buying another, or upgrading to business class (with increased baggage allowance) might end up being the cheapest solution. Next time, we'll be looking up airline weight limits before we buy the tickets…

In any case, if we don't do something drastic, we could be facing $1,200+ in excess baggage fees.

This is not an option.

After a seventeen-person dinner extravaganza, doubling as Tom's birthday celebration and D'Arcy and Erika's goodbye party, we get to thinking… D'Arcy is going home to Canada, which is not so far from the States. Shipping things home from Vancouver would definitely be much cheaper (and more reliable) than Mongolia!

So, Tyler talks to D'Arcy, asking him if he has room for a few more things. He happily agrees, potentially saving us hundreds of dollars. After a long dinner, we go back to our hotel in a hurry to see about culling our belongings. It's already almost midnight, but we're a flurry of activity. I really hope sleep becomes a part of our lives again sometime soon.

Soon, we're throwing all of our gear around, and in one fell swoop, we've cathartically divided our meager collection of possessions into Keep, Donate, Throw Away and Send Home with D'Arcy piles. On a leap of faith, and the advice from one article, we've put our tent and sleeping bag in the Send Home pile. It looks like camping is a thing of the past for the rest of this journey!

Oh how good it feels to get rid of things we don't need. As we sort, the reality of our new adventure begins to set in once more – we're going to bike around Southeast Asia! From the look of what remains, our bicycles are going to be extremely light (by our standards, anyway). We're so used to living under a rigid and meticulous packing regimen that we don't even know what do with all of our newfound space. There's going to be so much room!

Sorting complete, Tyler volunteers to make the cold walk across town at 1 AM without me. Rob goes with him, as he needs to bring D'Arcy some Mongol Rally photos on a zip drive. When Tyler returns empty-handed two hours later, we've shed at least ten kilograms. Thank you so much D'Arcy!

As for the rest of our kit, we've decided we'll attempt bringing two carry-on items each. We'll take our backpacks and our Ortlieb rack packs, stuffed with all of our heaviest gear. If that works out, we might just skate through without too much financial damage.

Feeling accomplished, we hit the sack at last, exhausted. Tomorrow, the logistics march on. We'll probably spend the entire day searching for cardboard boxes (in which to pack our bicycles for the flight).

Next Entry
Finding Boxes


Wow, good thing you found that article!! Snakes, ants and spiders are one thing (ew!) --landmines are another! Stay safe, guys.
Posted by Mary on November 4th, 2010 at 4:44 PM
When I traveled in China in 2005, we all carefully chose our luggage to fit with the weight limits. What we quickly realized, however, is that while the airlines were strict about the weight of checked luggage, they had no rules at all when it came to carry-ons. I vividly remember hauling a bronze pot through the Shanghai airport in a tote bag, trying desperately to appear as if it wasn't heavy enough to take my arm off. So yeah, I'd ask about carry-ons. If the rules haven't changed too much, you should be fine with your 4 bags!
Posted by Kelly Williams on November 4th, 2010 at 4:49 PM
hey tyler and tara,

let me know if you're intending to drop by singapore. geographically, it's at the "end" of south east asia, although i know there's a way to get on to indonesia by sea (which is less costly), i'm not so sure if there's a way by sea to get to mainland indonesia if you're intending to head there. i could take a day off work or something to show you guys around singapore should you want to look around by bike - this island's small enough, you can do a tour in one DAY... let me know yeah?
Posted by sehsuan on November 5th, 2010 at 4:51 AM
I have to admit, I'm totally surprised that you didn't consider baggage allowances when booking the tickets... To me, that is one of my biggest concerns with planning my bicycle tour for next year - getting all the gear to the destination(s) cheaply... The price of the ticket is almost irrelevant compared to the cost of excess baggage on many flights, particularly the discount airlines. It'd actually be cheaper to pay for a random stranger to come with you just to use their baggage allowance. :)
Posted by David on November 5th, 2010 at 12:58 PM
Mary - Thank you! Actually, now we're wishing we had brought our tent along with us. We've seen plenty of safe spaces to camp around here (not scenic or hidden, but okay in a pinch) if we're ever desperate. It can be a long way between guest houses!

Kelly - Yeah, the heavy carry-ons thankfully worked out just fine. Love the brass pot story!

Sehuan - Thanks so much for the offer! Unfortunately the pull of family and home is much greater than our desire to extend our already very long trip. We'll definitely be returning to this part of the world, though, so maybe we'll come see you next time around! Thank you again!

David - Rookie mistake, we'd only flown with our bicycles once.
Posted by Tara on November 7th, 2010 at 2:03 AM
We just got your calendar, yayyy!
Posted by Nadine on December 3rd, 2010 at 10:17 PM
Yaaay! :D
Posted by Tara on December 5th, 2010 at 11:35 AM