I’m back from Scotland. By the time I got to the ferry terminal in Aberdeen, even my carry-on backpack and smaller daypack felt too heavy and awkward to carry for any distance. This didn’t stop me from buying a 1.5 kg Shetland fleece on the first day of Wool Week. An undisclosed number of skeins of yarn followed. And a few souvenirs. Some books and CDs. I had to borrow a nylon duffle bag from a fellow traveler for the journey home. So much for my plans to travel light.
I stayed in one place for the ten nights that I was in Shetland, so I didn’t really grasp the weight of my accumulated possessions. It hit home when I was going from bus to bus in Inverness and then from the bus station to my hotel in Fort William, then back to the train station to catch an early train to Glasgow. After a couple more bus trips in Glasgow, I finally made it to the Edinburgh airport. The number of times I had to pack and unpack everything in security lines felt stressful and frustrating.
The thing that you quickly discover about lugging luggage around is that especially now with heightened security everywhere, you can’t leave it. When you’re traveling solo, that becomes a huge issue. I was hungry but the only way I could get something to eat was to take all three bags with me to the counter. It didn’t seem worth the effort. I ate a few cookies. At one point I risked parking the trolley outside the stall in the airport toilets in the middle of the night. I napped leaning against my bags. It felt so good finally to drop everything and greet my dogs, home and unencumbered.
It’s almost a cliché to talk about the psychological baggage most of us carry around all the time. But a few days of being so physically burdened made me reflect on that once again. There’s a high price to pay, higher even than the one charged by the airlines. I’m going to spend the weekend cleaning out a few actual and metaphorical closets. I’m already planning my next trip to Shetland, and I’m going to do it right the next time. I met people who proved that it could be done.
Photo: Diane M. Houdek