Excuse Me United Airlines, I Think That’s My Bag!

When I travel, I usually always carry-on one pack, my Eagle River pack.  I always fill it with my technology, any important documents, and a couple changes of clothes (just in case the airline loses my checked baggage).

However last June when we were flying back to the United States for the summer, I decided to just check my carry-on bag for the last leg from Newark, New Jersey to Minneapolis, Minnesota, because I was sick of carrying it around. We were able to squeeze all of our important items into Rachel’s carry on and stuff my carry on with all of the clothes.  As soon as we boarded the United Airlines plane, I quickly ordered a cold beer!  As you probably know by now, Kuwait is a dry country, so I was super pumped to have one!


As I was enjoying my beer, I was watching a couple of Baggage Handlers loading luggage onto the plane next us.  I was watching as they would monotonously grab a bag, scan the tag, then chuck it on the conveyor belt, and watch it disappear into the belly of the plane.  I was enjoying the entertainment, when I noticed something different in the pattern.  They scanned a bag, looked at, then set it on the fender of the conveyor machine.  I was starring at the bag, when all of a sudden I realized, THAT’S MY BAG!

The Baggage Handlers finished loading the plane, and just walked away.  In the meantime, the final passengers were boarding our flight, and we were about to leave in any minute!

I immediately pressed the Flight Attendant call button . . . .


Me: “Excuse me ma’m, I’m sorry to bother you, but one of my bags is on the conveyor machine by the plane next to us.”

Flight Attendant: (Looking out the window) “Are you sure?”

Me: “I am 99% sure!  I have a very distinct bag.  Could you have somebody check?  I would hate to leave my bag in New Jersey.”

Flight Attendant: “Ok, ok, I’ll have someone check.”

*In the meantime, the two baggage handlers are hiding under the terminal, with their faces buried in their phones.  All of the passengers are now loaded onto our flight, they are about to close the door!  Then the United Airlines Gate Agent comes onto our flight and comes over to me.

Gate Agent: “Sir, is there a problem?”

Me: “Yes, one of my bags is sitting on that conveyor machine, on the wrong plane.”

Gate Agent: (With a look of disbelief on his face) Oooooook, I’ll look into it.”

He leaves the plane, and I can now see him out my window walking towards my bag.  I’m a bit nervous at this point and my fingers are crossed that it IS my bag, because I’d hate to cause a big deal over nothing!

Then I see him check the tag, grab it, and walk towards our plane. It indeed WAS my bag!

In the meantime, the two baggage handlers are still hiding under the terminal, with their faces buried in their phones.  They think they are hiding, but I can clearly see them.

Moments later the Flight Attendant walks back over to me:

Flight Attendant: “Sir, thank you for letting me know about your bag.  The baggage handlers were just about to put it on our plane.”

Me: “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!” “Thank you for your help!.”

Seriously, about 1 minute later the door to our plane closes, and they start to push our plane back from the gate.

So my advice to you: Always look out the windows once you are seated on your plane.  You never know if you’ll see your luggage being loaded onto the WRONG flight!

How to Pack When You’re Moving Overseas

We have officially done the big trek from Minnesota to Kuwait two summers in a row.  Last summer we needed to move all the necessities that Mitch and I needed, and this summer we moved all the necessities that Baby J is going to need.  Since the apartment we moved into was fully furnished, we were able to move with just the luggage we brought with us on the airplane. All of our other belongings were either stored or sold before we left.  We did quite a bit of brainstorming about the best way to get our things to the other side of the world and landed on using the same system two summers in a row, and it worked fantastically!

Last summer we moved to Kuwait with 6 checked bags and 2 carry ons.  We only owned our carry on backpacks (that we love!), and one large suitcase a piece.  That left us thinking, we need to purchase another 4 large suitcases!  That idea seemed crazy, when else would we ever need that many suitcases? And the cost of purchasing them was just too much for us to swallow.  Enter in the perfect solution: Home Depot storage totes!

We were able to purchase these HDX 27-gallon storage totes for $8.99 a piece, and they are the exact maximum measurements that our airline would allow.  Not only was the price right on these totes, but they also have locking lids, hold a ton of stuff, and are super heavy duty!


Now those of you who know Mitch, know that he is Captain Safety and would definitely not just throw our belongings into a tote without securing them.  One of the benefits of these totes, is that they have holes around the edges, so that you can lock the lid on with a zip tie.


Mitch did some research to verify that TSA allows passengers to secure their luggage with zip ties.  However, if they have to inspect them, they could and would just cut them off.  So just in case, Mitch taped this note with extra zip ties to the inside lid of each tote, so that the TSA Agent would re-secure our tote, before sending it on its way:


So far we have crossed the Atlantic twice using this packing method and all of our totes and belongings have made it safe and sound to our desert home, without TSA cutting any of our zip ties off of our luggage.

packing Another benefit of traveling with plastic totes: we can use them here in Kuwait to store Baby J’s clothes that he won’t be able to fit into for quite a while, or other junk that we don’t use often.  The totes stack up nicely and store easily.


If you are interested in purchasing the same totes that we’ve used, you can find them at any Home Depot store or online here.

Recommendations on a Travel Pack

My in-laws are coming to Kuwait!  Whooo hoo!  Their tickets are all booked and they will be touching down in Kuwait City at the beginning of April.  We are going to spend a few days in Kuwait showing them where we live/work/hang out and then the four of us will be heading to Jordan together to explore Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea.   We are going to embark on a great Middle Eastern Road Trip.  I can’t wait!

Since we will be moving from one location to another on this trip, and will be spending time in the desert where there aren’t roads much less sidewalks to roll your suitcase along it makes more sense to travel with a backpack.

After we booked Kraig and Jody’s plane ticket’s to head to the desert one of the first questions Jody asked was; “What kind of suitcase do I need”  So the following is my advice. This post is truly intended for my Mother-in-law, however it is super awesome if this info is helpful for you as well.

First of all, get a backpack, carrying a wheelie bag for extended periods of time sucks, like really sucks.  The only time you are going to wish you had wheels is at the airport after that you will be super happy that you are hands free.

Mitch and I each have a backpack that we each LOVE.

I have the Tortuga and Mitch has an Eagle Creek backpack.


Rachel’s Bag


eagle creek frong

Mitch’s Bag



Things we both look for in a bag

  • Front Loading: no one wants to take everything out of their bag to find the pair of socks at the bottom of their bag, NO ONE.  Get a front loader, a bag that opens up like a typical backpack rather than a hiking pack.
  • Price Point: We use our luggage a lot but we still don’t want to spend a small fortune on our bags.  Both of our bags are under the $200 price point.  Mine just barely made the cut at $199 and Mitch’s was $150
  • Carry on Size: In my opinion checking bags is the pits, it is too expensive and waiting for your bag once you arrive at your destination stinks.  Sometimes I can’t avoid checking bags: like when we moved to the other side of the world but having the option to carry on is great.

Things I look for in a bag

  • Easy Access Pockets: I think every couple must settle into traveling roles, every person has aspects of the vacation that they are in charge of.  For Mitch and I, he is in charge of the logistics.  Things that involve maps, bus schedules, or researching if it is Monsoon season are totally  his thing.  Finding unique lodging, activities to do, and taking care of the passports and boarding passes is my job.  External backpack pockets were a must for me so I could have our passports and boarding passes easily available and I could be crazily checking to make sure I still had them without having to take my pack on and off.  The Tortuga has the perfect pockets for the job.
  • Hip belt: I may look like a dork wearing it but the amount of pressure that is taken off my shoulders and back by having a bag that has a hip belt is awesome.
  • Dedicated Spot for Technology: We typically travel with a computer, iPad, and a nook.  I knew I wanted a specific, padded location to keep my devices in.
tortuga hip belt

Sweet looking Hip Belt with space for boarding passes and passports.


tortuga technology pouch

Dedicated space for computer.


Things Mitch Looks for in a bag

  • Security: If we have a safety captain in our marriage it is definitely Mitch.  He is the one who remembers to lock the door at night, who thinks to put important documents in a safe, and picks up my wallet off of the deodorant shelf when I have left it there at Target.  So it makes sense that he is concerned about the security of his backpack while we travel.  His backpack is designed in a way that the zippers and spaces that open are tucked against his body when his backpack is on.  The part that is facing outward toward the world is a solid piece with no access to anything that is inside the bag.
  • Minimalist: While I love the external pockets and things that are on my bag, Mitch is more of a minimalist bag kind of guy.  He doesn’t like all those pockets and wanted a bag that was pretty simple and sleek.
eagle creek

No hip belt or external pockets for Mitch, just the way he likes it!


eagle creek back

Outward facing side of Mitch’s bag.



We both searched quite a bit and read quite a few reviews before we chose our bags and neither of us have regretted the packs we are carrying at all.

So there you go Jody, options on backpacks you could bring on our great Middle Eastern Adventure.  Can’t wait to see you, only a few more months!

*Pictures from here and here.