The redhead is not only beautiful and witty, she is also talented. We had a wild hare idea to pack with luggage which would fit in the SLK trunk WITH THE TOP DOWN using 2 carry-on bags with wheels of max airline-acceptable size.

Part of the secret was having been there before. We knew what we needed and didn't need.

We didn't need a hair dryer. Every hotel had one. We didn't need a voltage converter for an electric razor. Being a real man, I use a blade for shaving. I only stopped shaving with the Randall Bowie knife when they started X-raying luggage.

We each needed one, and only one nice outfit for dinner. We would be at a different hotel each night, so no one would see her dress twice. Ergo, only one dress had to go. I wore a blue blazer for dinner. During the day I wore khaki slacks and a long-sleeve dress shirt. This fit in with German casual dress. The drill was after showering before dinner to put on the fresh shirt and slacks for the evening activities and wear the shirt and slacks the next day. I took a pair of dress shoes and a few dress socks. During the day I wore good running/walking shoes and athletic socks. We did a lot of walking and a significant amount of climbing.

She wore slacks and blouse during the day. Through the use of a scarf, she managed to look different every night.

We wore our jackets on the plane, light jackets for the September weather. When we went in October we took heavier A-2 pilots' jackets. Again, they were worn, not packed.

We also wore fanny packs, hers being pretty big, mine being a Galco model designed to conceal a 1911 Colt .45. There was no pistol, obviously, but anything which would set off the metal detector went in there, my flashlight, a Sure Fire 3P, needed because I'm seriously night-blind now, keys, wallet, change, pens, notebook, travelers checks.

We did take hats we didn't need. We expected to be able to drive with the top down more than we did. Weather prohibited that.

We started with my stuff in one suitcase, hers in the other. After half a week it was clean stuff in one suitcase, dirty in the other. So for a couple of nights we only had to take in one suitcase.

If you can't make it with carry-on bags, do combat-load your luggage. The stuff you MUST have should be in the carry-on bags so that if your checked luggage goes to Stuttgart, Arkansas, you'll be able to survive. The stuff you need first should be on top. One of the carry-on bags is a suit-bag, with a fold-up compartment for the jacket and shirts.

We minimized toiletry. Each hotel has shampoo but not conditioner, so we just took conditioner. I went as far as to take a travel-sized dental floss. I actually had room left in the Dopp kit.

The bags were pretty full, and we knew our "stuff" would grow by a couple of bottles of wine, a first aid kit, and a warning triangle, plus anything we bought to take home. So we took a backpack, empty, flat, inside one of the bags.

A goal was to be able to get by with luggage which would fit in the "Top down" luggage compartment of the SLK. I had test-fitted and knew the two bags and camera bag would. But, alas, I had test-fitted with EMPTY bags. Filling them up made them swell pregnantly, and they were too high. As it were, it didn't matter as weather would have prevented us from driving with the top down much more than we did.

When we came back we checked the previously carried-on bags to avoid more schlepping them across Amsterdam's Shiphol airport. Each bag had been personalized by the use of red Duck tape (no, not duct tape, the brand name is Duck. You wouldn't use red tape on your ducts.). No matter how the bag lay, a flash of red was visible, so we wouldn't confuse it with the other 200,000 black carry-on bags at the airport.

I wore the backpack full of wine and such and carried the camera bag. The camera bag I never check, never let go of, never let out of my sight, never set down behind me.

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