Now that I have the injury portion of my year (hopefully) out of the way I’ve been looking forward to taking a few different trips in the second half of 2009. Later this month Mrs. Narc and I will be heading to Tuolumne Meadows for a week and other possible trips, including one to Hueco Tanks, are in the works.
One thing that is a constant with just about all of our trips is that we bring a lot of stuff. We try to camp wherever we go for obvious cost saving reasons which necessitates bringing a fair amount of camping equipment. Then there is the equipment needed for climbing itself which often takes up a good amount of room regardless of the type of climbing we’ll be doing on a given trip. This isn’t really a problem for “local” trips, but when we need to fly it means getting everything onto an airplane which is becoming increasingly expensive.
Never a problem a few years back, nowadays airlines have been consistently ratcheting up various fees and restrictions when it comes to luggage. It’s increasingly common to have to pay for each of your checked bags which generally means an additional $40 tacked on to the cost of your flight each way. Throw in a crashpad and you never know what will happen. Most crashpads are, depending on the mood of the person checking in your bags, “over-sized” luggage which can incur an additional $100-$200 penalty each way depending on the airline. I’ve had instances where the airlines haven’t looked twice at our pads and other trips where they act like we are trying to bring a 500 lb. safe onto the plane.
The sum of all this is that in addition to paying for a plane ticket one must take into account additional expenses of up to a couple hundred dollars to go on a trip that requires flying. For us this has meant a few things. First, we’ve consciously tried to focus on trips we can take that don’t require any flying. Second, when going on a trip that requires a flight we’ve chosen to use those trips for things other than bouldering. For instance, on our upcoming trip to Tuolumne a crash pad would be nice, but since bouldering is only a diversion from our main goal of long trad routes the additional costs wouldn’t really be worth it. The final thing is that whatever we do decide to bring is packed with ruthless efficiency and we unfortunately become “that guy” with an absurd amount of our belongings stuffed into our carry on luggage. Gotta do what you gotta do, right?
I’m wondering what experiences others have had these past couple of years. Have you changed your travel habits due to the new luggage fee structure? What has your experience been when flying with crashpads or other large pieces of gear? Take the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.