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Packing It In

How staycations won their way into my heart

October 2023

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

I have never mastered the art of packing light.

This is the time of year that I used to take my vacation. It was often to Virginia Beach, although now that they’ve torn down my beloved Belvedere inn and diner, that’s out of the question. And then, there’s the five-hour grueling drive. I am too old now to tackle that in one day.

So, a vacation, for several reasons, is out of the question this October. I have learned to embrace staycations. I like them very much. I don’t have to decide where to go, or best of all, what to overpack.

I do recall one instance where overpacking was nearly my downfall.

I was in the Baltimore Airport, on my way to Greece. I’d never been and had no idea what I might need once I got there. So, I packed darn near everything. I had a huge suitcase. It was, in fact, too huge.

Little did I know that they had recently acquired a frame in which your luggage had to fit. And, they weighed it. I did not pass either test.

So there I was, on the floor of the BWI airport, all my belongings out and scattered around. I finally hit upon the idea to actually put on layer after layer of clothing, like some sort of bag lady. After all, at least at that time, they were not weighing passengers, only their luggage.

I finally managed to reach the limit, but not go over it. Of course, I looked like a rag-bag Michelin Man, but who cared? To say I fit snugly into my British Air seat would be inadequate.

Naturally, it’s impossible to go to Greece and not buy T-shirts and pareos (a kind of wrap-skirt) and paintings and useful souvenirs and such. I finally bought yet another bag, and filled that, too. I’d check the big bag and carry on the smaller one.

But there were problems with the plane on the trip back. We actually limped back to the Athens runway surrounded by fire trucks. Passengers and luggage were off-loaded and bused to a nearby hotel at 2 a.m. We were told to be ready to leave by 7 a.m. But, at 4:30 a.m., a call came to tell us to be downstairs by 5 a.m.

I scrambled about in a daze, trying to get everything repacked. Believe me, at that moment, I hated my luggage. I piled everything I could into the checked bag.

We arrived back at BWI and an announcement was made for certain passengers to please see the gate agent. One of them was “Mr. Oxendine.” I sincerely hoped there was a Mr. Oxendine on the flight. But no.

They said my luggage had not made the trip, but it would be delivered to my home. It was the bigger bag, with all my delightful stuff. They asked about the nearest airport; I said “Lewisburg.”

I waited, with daily updates from British Air, for my luggage to arrive. Finally a call: “I am happy to report your luggage has landed in Luxembourg,” the BA agent said. Uh, no! I did my best to explain the location of the Lewisburg airport. And waited another week.

They called from Lewisburg, at last, and offered to drive my bag to Covington. So, I went there and waited. Suddenly, an unusual sight happened in Covington. A long, black limousine cruised slowly down Main Street. A uniformed chauffeur got out and set my wayward bag on the sidewalk. My luggage was home!

Is it any wonder that most subsequent vacations involved me driving my big SUV, loaded to the max with every darn thing I might require? Is it any wonder that staycations became one of my favorite things in the world?

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email [email protected].