The Great Pack Out…aka this suitcase looked bigger when I bought it

The Great Pack Out


The great pack out has begun and ended, total bag count: two bike boxes (with Salsa touring bikes and panniers), two REI suitcases, two wheeled duffel bags and one 65L backpack. Plus 2 carry on bags each. It has taken weeks of sorting, organizing, packing, weighing, repacking, reweighing, getting rid of more stuff, repacking and reweighing, then re-assessing how many water bottles do we really need and will packing socks in the water bottles make the water taste funny? It seems like a lot until we remember this represents the vast majority of everything we now own. 

To get to Budapest, Hungary we are flying British Airways, Denver to London Heathrow to Budapest. We chose to fly British Airways since they transfer thru London and Britain is not a member of the Schengen Zone. This means we don’t have to clear customs and immigration until we hit Budapest. If we had transferred in any of the Schengen Zone countries we would have had to collect ALL our luggage, cleared customs, cleared immigration, checked all the luggage back in and then still made the connecting flight (and we have missed connecting flights due to delays in customs before, even with a four hour layover).

To accomplish this British Airways adventure in the best possible way, we signed up for the British Airways visa earlier in the year and accumulated 50,000 Avios points under their new card holder promotion (Avios are the “miles” used by British Airways and Iberia).  British Airways has 4 flight classes: Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class; and Avios can be used to upgrade to the next level flight class. We purchased Premium Economy tickets, which would have been acceptable since Premium Economy does provide 7 extra inches of legroom, which is significant since Marc is 6’ 2” and Julia does not enjoy listening to him whine about not having enough legroom for 9 hours straight.  We then used some of the Avios to upgrade our tickets to Club World (Business Class) on the Denver to London leg. Upgrading provided several benefits, including 3 checked bags per ticket (each with an expanded 32kg weight limit), access to the British Airway Executive clubs, and the luxurious Club World seat that converts to a fully flat bed on the international flight. While we did have to pay the additional taxes and fees on the upgrade, but we more than made that amount back in the savings with the extra bag each, the extra weight limit on the bags, and the food and drink in the lounges. Plus the Avios points accumulated on the flights recoup the Avios points we spent on the upgrade. 

If you are interested in the British Airways visa, the promotion has been renewed again for this year with some nice added bonuses (but please be aware the British Airways visa count the “year” January to December not a 12 month period). 

The British Airways visa has the benefit of no foreign transaction fees and it is a chip and signature card which makes it fairly’ compatible with the credit card chip system that is predominant in Europe. NOTE: The British Airways visa is not a chip and pin card and this is a critical difference if you are trying to use your card at an unattended terminal (such as trying to buy gasoline after hours or train tickets at a kiosk). 

© Eat, Drink, and Carry a GPS 2013