spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Europalooza Trip Report Part 1: Escape from Hawaii

on January 21, 2019

You may have noticed that I changed the name of this trip for purposes of simplicity.  Easier to type Europalooza than Spain and France in 2018 or So Help Me, which is a name I still love because of the Monsters, Inc. reference.   Anyway, Europalooza it is, for the duration of this Trip Report.

Departure day dawned…sunny? cloudy? rainy?…actually I didn’t pay attention to the weather at all, haha.  It just dawned, and it meant that I was up early due to have a pesky all-day work training to attend.  The packing lists had been printed and posted a few days prior, with almost all of the packing already done.  Just a few housechores left to do:

  • We Latinos (or maybe just my family?  I don’t know if that’s a common thing) change our sheets on December 31, to wake up in a “new bed”on the New Year.  So when we woke up on departure day, we (actually DH, credit where credit is due) stripped the beds and put a fresh set on so that when we returned after the New Year, we’d still have “new” beds.
  • I like to unplug everything possible, to reduce the risk of electrical problems we can’t address while away from home, and to reduce the electricity bill.  So, most of the power strips got switched off.
  • We moved the perishable foods we had not been able to finish to the freezer or trash, and made sure to empty all the trashcans one final time.
  • We reminded ourselves to take our car keys/fobs off our keychains- we obviously travel with our housekeys, but did not need the additional bulk of the car keys.
  • We triple-checked that we had the passports and Global Entry information.
  • Both my husband and I secured our work laptops.
  • We left 1 light on in the living rooms, but closed all the blinds and jalousies (the typical window blinds of Hawaii)

I felt very prepared.  I’d had a minor heart attack the day before, since I had a TYPO in my itinerary stating that our Paris to Seville flight was departing from Paris-Orly (ORY) airport (as it originally had been when first booked with Transavia), but our nonrefundable airport hotel was at Paris-Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport.  I frantically checked the airline reservation, and to my relief, found that the Iberia flight was indeed from CDG and I had simply forgotten to update that line of the itinerary.

Back to Departure Day: I annoyingly had to go to this work thing, which was not too bad except for the fact that I was quite impatient for it to be over!  Finally, I was free to go, and got home in record time after picking DS up from school.  Everyone freshened up with showers and got into their traveling outfits, which had been laid out the night before.  After I walked around checking things off the packing lists, I declared us ready to go.  We had our backpacks and suitcases by the door and were just locking up when the guy from Aloha Airport Shuttle called to say that he was here.  Perfect timing!  We met him downstairs, piled into the van, and were off to the airport!  This was the 1st instance of someone commenting on our small amount of luggage, but it wouldn’t be the last.

We all had a personal item: I had my lovely Lug backpack of course, DH had his eBags backpack I had given him a few years back, DD had a nice big Jansport backpack with Mickeys all over it, and DS used his school backpack.  Additionally, we had this eBags carry-on.

ebags carryon

Hello, gorgeous! This is the EXO 2.0 Hardside Spinner Carry-On.

And yes, that’s it.  All carry-on, no checked luggage.  We were gone for 19 nights.  It can be done, people!  Several reasons to limit luggage:

  1. we’d be changing hotels fairly often, an average of once every 3 nights.
  2. We’d be able to rewear clothes a bunch, since it was winter and we wouldn’t be sweating through our items.
  3. Our coats would protect us from the dirt/germs of public transit on the layers of clothing closest to our skin.
  4. We would have limited access to laundry facilities, so the fewer clothes, the better.

We did all wear our heavier clothes to travel in, like jeans and boots, but packed sneakers and layers for the cold weather.  I also packed a large cloth duffel bag into the spinner eBags case, because I figured we would accumulate souvenirs that we’d want in our personal item on the plane, and we could always check the duffel bag full of dirty clothes without worrying about the bag (made of hearty canvas) or the dirty laundry!  I did make sure that the canvas duffel had its own luggage tag on it.

Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about this bag.  This was one of the main reasons I got it…

ebags carryon2

pic from eBags.com

Yes, it is actually carry-on size. Many brands advertise their “carry-on” size bags without including the WHEELS in their measurements.  This one does, and the bag was quite ample, the wheels rolled like a dream on all surfaces, and it’s pretty snazzy-looking besides.  My only small complaint was that the top carry handle (not the telescopic extending handle you roll the bag with, the one you grab to fully lift the suitcase) was a little too set into the bag.  That meant that I had to really get under it to get a good grip, which wouldn’t have been a problem except that suitcase has kind of a pebbled texture.  So unless I grabbed it “just so,” I scraped my knuckles on the pebbly surface and it didn’t feel very nice.  When you think about the number of times you have to pick up a suitcase…up onto a curb…to account for the level changes on a jetway…to put it in the overhead compartment…all done quickly so as not to impede the people behind you…let’s just say that I will be mentioning that design note in my review on eBags.com.  Happily, 99% of the time it was perfect.

Anyway, we made it to the airport quickly, and the shuttle only cost $25!  I highly recommend them: the driver was on time/early, he drove safely, and the van was clean.  He got a good tip.

aloha airport shuttle

We’ll definitely use them again- great for locals.

We breezed through the TSA checkpoint with PreCheck, got some snacks and a trashy magazine for me (a Trip Tradition™), and settled in to wait for boarding.  This first flight had us departing HNL at 6:30p, and arriving in Raleigh (RDU) at 10:35a the next day after a very short layover in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW).  While we waited in the boarding area at HNL, the American Airlines agents were offering $1000 to anyone that wanted to be bumped to the same flight the next day- wow!  We declined, of course- had to stay on schedule.

clipboard of fun

This Clipboard of Fun says: No delays allowed.

2 fairly uneventful flights later, we landed in Raleigh and picked up a rental car from Budget.  Getting the rental car was kid of a last-minute thing, which is why I didn’t mention it before this.  I had virtually no time to look for deals, so I went to my go-to source for car rentals: Costco Travel.  No issues at pickup, though we did wait about 15 minutes for the Budget Shuttle to roll by the waiting area.  I walked around the car taking a video and zooming in on any existing scratches/bumps for insurance purposes.  We loaded our bags and started to leave….sort of.  After some wacky hijinx trying to figure out how to TURN IT ON (it was a keyless Ford Focus), we made our way to my sister’s house.


New car technology- not my strong suit.

It was Day 2, and time to start having fun!  Back soon with another installment 🙂

One response to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 1: Escape from Hawaii

  1. Gina I Valle says:

    love it. Can’t wait for the next chapter.


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