- luc's post
This is an ongoing conversation with myself and with the tribe...
How do we best carry all our stuff?
The main decision is ... do you take backpacks or rolling luggage (is there a technical term for that?).
As a hiker I am accustomed to carrying all my stuff on my back for a whole day but travelling as a family in essentially urban settings is the name of the current game.
We decided to take backpacks on this trip because of the number of transfers we are doing. Our shortest stay .. tonight in Kobe .. is only one night and our longest .. in Paris .. is 7 nights. Mostly it is 3 nights. All up we are doing about 14 bits of city walking getting to hotels and handling bags in subways and inter-city trains. So we thought that backpacks would make a lot of sense.. That was my thinking back in Sydney without having actually done a day with a pack on our backs navigating CityRail or Tokyo Metro or Paris Metro.
So what is it like in Tokyo with a backback?
And I mean a proper backpack.. at least 70L or 55L for the kids.. not a little daypack ...
Well, to start, the shinkasen while fast does not give you lots of room for your bags (unlike the N'Ex - Narita Express which is pretty well set up for big bags). So storing the backpacks as you move is a lot more complicated .. and they are messy things with straps sometimes going everywhere (even on mine sometimes.. those of you who have hiked with me can stop sniggering.)
And then there is the fact that you are twice as wide with a backpack. On the Yamanote Line at 7am on the way to Tokyo station this is a real issue. You need to watch out you don't turn round too fast and knock over half a carriage of very puzzled commuters. Placing a wheelie bag at your feet is much easier than taking off a pack in a crowded train... this is something we have faced a couple of times already.
And lastly there is the carrying.
Arriving in a new place ... like Kobe today ... you can easily make a wrong turn (yes even with a GPS Ryan) as you look for a hotel or as you come out of a subway or railway at the wrong exit (especially in Japan). Every wrong turn is extra minutes with a heavy pack on your back and potentially tired kids who want to enjoy the destination more than the journey.
Looking about, we are the only crazies with backpacks of any size. The wheelie bags rule in Japan and I can see why. Easy access, good pavements and who wants to carry a 16 kg pack containing about 6 kgs of items you might only need once on a 5 week trip.
So the conversation keeps going in my head... and amongst us as we go.
Were the packs a good idea?
Are we just experiencing the shock to the system that often happens when you go hiking? ... But then, as has often happened for me when hiking, you get used to the load and how you pack your gear and it gets easier as you keep walking. Your body adjusts. So perhaps that will happen...
And did we pack too much? ... Yes ... But it is winter, and we are going for a long time and so some things which look stupid as I pull them out now may yet come into their own in a couple of days or weeks.
So for right now I think I am ok with my backpack ... but everytime I see someone just rolling their little suitecase behind them my back twinges a little bit to suggest that I may not be completely sane and so my logic should not be trusted.
The thinking will go on.