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AYCJ Prep (Day -1)

I’ve definitely been preparing for this trip more than any other I’ve ever been on. Mostly because its all I have been able to think about for two weeks.

The big challenges have been
1. (obviously) how to fit in everywhere I want to go.
2. How to pack/fit everything I need for 30 days (including camping equipment) and hopefully avoid checking luggage
3. Which instruments to take

For the first problem, I was feeling totally lost with so much freedom. So I started checking out my favorite bands and friends tour pages to see where they were playing. I put them all on a Calendar (iCal has been extremely helpful in all of this) and went from there. I started toying around with the booking site at 1am the night they went on sale, and it was sort of a domino effect from there. I decided to kick off my trip in Jacksonville because it was a flight that was relatively close to the end of the Kickoff Party in terminal 5, and because I could get an early flight the next morning to get to my next (at that time undecided destination). The rest got booked in a similar fashion, making sure to intersect with a few concerts in cities I wanted to go to, and by 5am that night 2/3 of the trip was booked. At this point I’ve got all but the last three days of my trip booked and it looks like this:
View Chris Miller AYCJ 2010 in a larger map

The picture is actually much messier than that if you include connecting flights, since EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT includes a layover in either Long Beach, CA, Boston, MA, or New York, NY. Most are only 30 minutes- 3 hours though, but the zigzagging is kind of ridiculous. For example, JetBlue only flies to San Jose, CA from the east coast, so from Chicago I’ve got to fly to JFK, then to San Jose. That’s going to be a long travel day. Same goes for Denver to Seattle (via JFK).

The second and third problems go somewhat hand in hand. I want to pack light. If the general theme of this thing is having the freedom to jump around the country, it doesn’t make much sense for me to be weighed down by luggage. Plus, with so many flights if I can save the extra time at the airport it takes to check a bag, it would probably help to preserve my sanity. That being said, I need to take a saxophone, if only for the one gig I have in Watertown later in the month, but also just because you never know what kind of opportunities might come up. So that’s my carry on item (checking the sax is not an option). All that’s left then is to either check a bag with everything else in it, or attempt to fit everything in a bag small enough to be considered a “personal item” that can fit under the seat of a plane. I know its crazy, but I’m going with the second option.

Long story short – there’s no way to fit camping gear AND everything else I need for a month in a 22 liter pack, but luckily all of the camping I’m doing is in the 2nd half of the month, and I happen to have an 8 hour layover the day before my first camping trip. So at that halfway point I’m going to switch my backpack out for a duffel bag, which is carry-on compliant, but I am prepared to check if necessary. By then I’ll have 14 flights under my belt and should have a pretty good idea of what I can and can’t get away with. If you’re really really interested you can see a list of absolutely everything i packed here.

That leaves the one unsolved dilemma: BANJO. I began learning banjo about two months ago and have become very attached to it. I don’t know if I can handle being away from it for a full 30 days. Plus, its quiet enough that (unlike the sax) I feel like I could find a deserted corner in an airport and play it. So I can either: pray that I don’t get a flight attendant who’s having a bad day and I get away with two carry-on items plus a questionably large personal item on 32 consecutive flights – or I check the banjo which is both a huge time commitment and a risk to the well being of the instrument. Any thoughts?

One thought on “AYCJ Prep (Day -1)

  1. Andrew says:

    Let me say first of all that I think this is badass.

    About your carry-ons…many times if you carry an instrument like a banjo they will make you gate check it. They tag it and put it below and hand it to you on the jetway as soon as you get off. They don’t charge you for this and sometimes if you are technically over your limit they won’t notice in the rush of getting people on the plane. I usually get around paying for a checked bag by keeping my carry-on and backpack together in one hand (on the opposite side of the ticket person) and my electric bass in the other hand. It looks like I have just two carry-ons this way. Also, I will ask for the tag ahead of time sometimes so I can just squirrel on quickly after they scan my boarding pass. However, if they wanna be a dick and waste everyone’s time who is waiting in line behind you they can charge you. If you are carry two instruments and wearing a backpack this may be a little more obvious.

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