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  1. #1
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    Let's Play "Just The Tip!"


    Let’s Play “Just The Tip!”
    or “Cletus’ Airline Travel Tips for Skiers”



    Welcome to Grandpa Cletus’ list of key travel tips for the airline supported adventure. After a quarter century of travel to destinations across the globe, and the last five years of frequent storm chasing across the US, I’ve accumulated the following “best practices” designed to maximize my chances of scoring the goods upon my arrival via common carrier airline. I think of this list as my box of rubbers; if you’re flying into the unknown, you will probably need at least one, and if you’re going somewhere particularly adventurous, you might need to double up.

    Please note, most of my time has been spent flying on United domestically and American internationally. Regulations do vary by airline and change over time, and I’m obviously not responsible for any bullshit you have to put up with because you were too lazy to do a little fact checking. Basically, it’s your own damn fault if you “take my tip” and get screwed. Ha. After all, you were asking for it. I can tell by the way you were dressed; those calf high boots told me everything I needed to know.

    That being said, I’ll try to keep this list fairly current as it pertains to rules and regulations, and these really are what I use to “get in there and get off.” Also, I’m sure many of you will want to “stick your tip in” too, so please feel free to take sloppy seconds after I’ve blown my load (it may take me a while to finish). So, where to begin? There are just so many places I want to put my tip in. I guess we’ll start with…


    1. The Ticket
    If you’re traveling by air, the key thing to understand is that you’re going to be trading off time, cost, and flexibility. Go ahead and work the system, but don’t hate the game, it won’t do you any good; this is the nature of air travel. With one key exception, it works like this:

    Doing It Cheap
    If you have leeway on your front and back end timing, you can always find cheap tickets…however, it means you’ll generally end up locked into a hard-to-change, non-refundable, inflexible itinerary. This can cause serious complications and stress when the snow or schedule doesn’t line up the way you’d like, and is compounded significantly by international travel, as airline customer service is usually harder to contact outside your home country. If you have to go this route, set your expectations appropriately. When I go on the cheap, I usually use Travelocity – they have pretty capable service agents – but I know plenty of people that have had good success on the cost side with Orbitz and Expedia. If money is your single biggest concern, be prepared to do fare searches every week for the four months before your trip – airline ticket pricing is based on yield management techniques, and prices will jump all over as various utilization levels are hit.

    A couple of extras when it comes to tickets purchased through a discount channel. First, even though the ticket is purchased through the discounter, with a bit of status, luck, and/or charm, you can sometimes deal directly with the servicing airline if you need changes made, and thereby avoid the discounter’s additional change fee. Rare, but possible, and definitely worth a shot if you have the patience and requisite status, luck, and/or charm. Travelocity charges an extra $30 on top of the airlines’ basic change fee (usually $100 these days), which is on top of any fare difference, so it’s not just monopoly money. In some countries, $30 is an entire day of skiing, eating, and drinking. Or whoring. Whatever.

    Second, when you cancel a ticket purchased through a discounter, the reverse applies – you have to deal with them, and they hold the credit. Furthermore, the discounters don’t bother to hold much information around, so they won’t be able to find your credit if you can’t give them the original ticket number. Note, this is not the airline assigned reservation number, such as UA-FUX4YU. It is a long (9 digit?) numeric string in most cases. If you cancel a ticket purchased through a discounter, make SURE to keep your records so you can use the credit at a later date (usually up to a year later).

    Being Limber
    Now, if you can afford it, you can buy a fuller fare or open-ended ticket, which allows for fairly easy changes and line-of-scrimmage audibles. When there’s a high degree of uncertainty about scheduling, timing, and snowfall, this is often the right route to go, even from a total cost perspective. Buying the cheap ticket early on and then having a tough time changing it and paying through the nose to do so when you need to later may actually cost you more than simply paying for a more flexible fare in the first place. It sucks to pay a lot, but don’t hate the player – hate the game. Wait, didn’t I tell you not to hate the game? Ha, sorry, sometimes my shit stinks too. Unfortunately, if you have limited flexibility, you’re going to pay more; if you also have limited funds, you have to live with whatever you get, and like it. My rule of thumb: be prepared to take it in the ass about once out of every fifth booking that you try to do things on the cheap with no slack in your schedule.

    The Best of Both Worlds
    The one exception to this annoying cost-schedule conundrum is found in the magic of frequent flier miles. With even just a little bit of scheduling leeway to work with and some early planning, this is absolutely the way to go when it comes to air-based storm chasing. First of all, it’s fairly difficult to be cheaper than free. Second (and equally important), most airlines allot a certain number of frequent flier seats for each flight, and as long as you’re not changing origin or destination, allow for as many date changes to both departure and return as your addicted little heart desires once the ticket is booked. This means that when the storm rolls in late and buries everything tits deep on your departure day you’re still riding the lifts instead of crying quietly in seat 22B, waiting for the plane to be de-iced for the third time while the clock runs out on your crew’s available flight hours and eventually strands you at the airport that night. My mantra: frequent flier miles = free and flexible flights. Yahtzee!

    So, what if you don’t have any frequent flier miles? First, other people can gift frequent flier miles into your account, up to around 20k per year (I’ll have to re-check that figure). You don’t have an account? Well, you’re an idiot, but I can’t help you with that right now; in the meantime, other people can use their miles to buy a ticket for you. Do note, although mileage reservations can be made over the phone, when using miles to ticket in someone else’s name the miles owner will have to sign in person at a ticket office i.e. airport for actual ticketing to occur. What if you (or they) don’t have enough miles for a ticket? Turns out you can even buy miles to top off an account. One word of wisdom: buying or gifting miles takes around five to seven business days to happen, and you can’t complete the ticketing until you actually have the miles in the account. So, how many miles do you need? Domestic travel is usually around the 25k mile range, and international travel is around the 50k range. Some airlines are lower.


    Time to Fly
    Finally, a couple last thoughts on timing. First the basics. Airlines usually have price breaks at a 21-day advance purchase and 14-day advance purchase, and sometimes have price breaks at seven days and three days. Many people also know there is often a price break on a trip that has a Saturday night stay over included. Here are a couple other slightly less obvious tips: Monday AM, Thursday PM, and Friday PM are peak business travel times, so don’t plan to fly then (more expensive, more crowded, more everything). In particular, 7:00a to 9:30a, and 3:30p to 6:00p are bad like Michael Jackson. (Oh and by the way, while I'm thinking about timing and flight details...keep in mind that your odds of success are negatively correlated with the number of connections you have to make. Every time you change planes, the chances that either you or your bags will miss your connection go up exponentially. You'll pay more for non-stop flights, but you'll at least show up with your gear.) And finally, don’t ever plan a trip to a foreign country which has you arriving on a Sunday; everything is that much more likely to be closed when you arrive bleary-eyed and hungover. But more on how to fly in comfort later.

    Message In a Bottle
    So, what’s the one big take-away here? In my opinion, it’s that the flexibility of the airline ticketing arrangement is a highly overlooked and undervalued reality of airline-supported storm chasing. If you have no choice, you have no choice...but if you have some leeway, your goal when purchasing a flight is to maximize your travel flexibility at a non-prohibitive cost.
    Last edited by Yossarian; 08-22-2005 at 03:57 PM.
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  2. #2
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    UP TO YER NUTS IN HER GUTS!

    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemon boy
    UP TO YER NUTS IN HER GUTS!

    "So... der I wuz, ballz deep in dis chick...."

    "Have fun, get a flyrod, and give the worm dunkers the finger when you start double hauling." ~Lumpy

  4. #4
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    This thread has the potential to SMOKE the Welcome Wagon. And that's saying a lot. Damn Cletus, you so smoooov.
    "I knew in an instant that the three dollars I had spent on wine would not go to waste."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    2,184

    Chapter 2?

    Layover Musings By Grandpa Cletus


    Willl this be done before the Holidays? [tapping foot with coffee in hand]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    Securing a place in a legendary thread.
    "I smell varmint puntang."

  7. #7
    bklyn is offline who guards the guardians?
    Join Date
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    Seating tricks: SeatGuru.com
    I'm just a simple girl trying to make my way in the universe...
    I come up hard, baby but now I'm cool I didn't make it, sugar playin' by the rules
    If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from, then you wouldn't have to ask me, who the heck do I think I am.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2005
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    My room mate played just the tip with some broad last night... too bad there wasn't complete penetration

  9. #9
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    My $0.02 regarding ski boots and camera gear:
    Wear them both on the plane and you're good to go. I don't mean carry them on, I mean WEAR them on. When they give you a wierd look just mention how everyone has different fashion tastes.
    Putting the "core" in corporate, one turn at a time.

    Metalmücil 2010 - 2013 "Go Home" album is now a free download

    The Bonin Petrels

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by XtrPickels
    My room mate played just the tip with some broad last night... too bad there wasn't complete penetration
    Why do you care? Do you get frequent flyer miles when your roomate scores? Please tell us.

  11. #11
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    Yocletus does it again.
    Live To Ski!

  12. #12
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    Nov 2002
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    This does not suck at all. Or blow even.

    Thanks, dude. You make me feel like I should contribute more.

    The body of knoweldge in maggotland about each and every aspect of skiing boggles the mind.

    I know how to make spaghetti.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Okay, so, you played with dates and schedules, coordinated with buddies, scoured the interweb for deals, waited for prices to bottom out, fought your boss for time-off, and then…just at the right moment, you struck like a Rocky Mountain Snipe and put two in the chest. Blam! Sniper! The trip is now quickly approaching, and it’s time to assemble your stuff and pack your bags. What do you do? What do you do?


    2. The Gear
    Obviously I’m not even going to begin to tell you how to pack the basics for a ski trip. By this time, you had better know to bring polys instead of cotton, that you need enough spare socks to always have a backup pair (your feet will stay warmer in clean socks, true story I swear), and that underwear is totally overrated and just gets in the way of bowel movements and sex anyway. In fact, if you haven’t figured out your layering systems or don’t already have your basic ski gear in order, you probably shouldn’t be taking this trip in the first place. Just give me your ID and credit cards, and I’ll make sure your ticket is put to good use. Seriously though, I might get around to putting up my full packing list at some point, but let’s focus on the essentials for now.

    Ticket to Ride
    First, the ride. What boards do you bring? Clearly, it depends on the destination, season, goals, and duration of the trip. But after years of hypothesizing, testing, and experimenting, as a general rule I now choose skis for a trip under the following exhaustive list of guidelines:

    at least one pair must be fat,
    at least one pair must be fat,
    at least one pair must be fat,


    and (my personal favorite)...

    at least one pair must be fat.

    Follow those rules, and everything will be fine, about 82.34% of the time. Really, it’s a proven fact.

    The thing is, if you’re spending the coin to get on an aeroplane just for the chance of scoring the goods, it’s idiotic to stress about what you’ll do if you’re wrong. So just don’t bother. (We both know you’ll cry like a baby for a little while then get roaring drunk at the nearest –sorry, that should be cheapest– pub.) There’s no backing out, and you’ve already made your bed. So sack up, put on the jimmy hat, and jump in. Hopefully, you’ll get laid. If you’re going to deal with the hassle of bringing skis in the first place, you may as well plan for powder. The pain of getting skunked by the weather and having to ski your fats in crappy conditions is about 182.34% less than the pain of leaving them at home because the weatherman called for high pressure and then a having freak storm drop four feet of fresh in two days on your myopic, pessimistic, and soon to be floundering ass. That being said, I suppose I do have some general rules of thumb when it comes to skis.

    For a one to two day “code red,” I will occasionally not bring my own skis, and pick some up at my destination. Do this only if a) you can line them up for cheap in advance AND pick them up before the first ski day AM (if we’re talking true epic storm, you’ll want to be able to be in line early, and the pain of trying to arrange a pickup or demo the morning of the storm while everyone else is lining up is about 282.34% worse than the hassle of bringing your own skis), and b) this will allow you to go entirely carry-on. If you have to check a bag anyway, it may as well be a ski bag, and it may as well have skis in it. More on that later.

    For a two to three day trip, I will bring one pair of do-it all fat boards. So, that means, not your I’m-a-rock-star-AK-long-boards, not your backcountry flippy-spinny twins, and not your nipple-deep perfect-pow-only skis. Your goal here is to maximize performance without totally tossing out versatility. If you’re also a backcountry skier, bringing your fat touring setup is the quiver of one for a two to three day trip. Waists = 93mm-106mm seem to be perfect. Think Tanker, Explosiv, Sugar, Gotama.

    For trips three days and longer, I’ll bring two pair, particularly if I’m headed somewhere where fixing, renting, or buying gear is painful at best (382.34% more painful than at home, usually), and disastrous at worst. At this point, the best strategy becomes one of maximizing coverage with minimal gear. So, a slimmer fat (87-95) and an ultra-fat (106-130) is a nice combo, and a touring setup and an alpine setup is a nice combo. One thing I’ve seen done a lot is to have a crud-pow-chop fat alpine setup for charging, hucking, and general mayhem, and a fresh pow/touring setup, for the first days right after the storm and then again for long after the storm. Think Explosivs mounted alpine and Gotamas with Freerides.

    Giving It The Boot
    Of course, this immediately prompts the boot question. 82.34% of respondents agree, boots are the single most important piece of equipment on a trip (the rest answered “earplugs and/or sleep aids,” which even I’ll admit is a pretty good call). If nothing else, you must bring your boots. And then never go anywhere without them. Sleep in them if you have to, go to the bar in them if you want to, knock them against other boots while doing the horizontal mambo if you’re able to, but never, ever, EVAR, leave your boots alone on a ski trip. As soon as they’re alone, they’ll try to make little baby boots, and it’s just not a pretty thing to walk in on. On a two to three day trip, I’ll bring alpine boots and a fat touring setup; on a week long trip, I will bring both alpine and AT boots for comfort, variety, and versatility.

    The Best of the Rest
    Beyond ski and boot choices, there are a few other items that jump out on the gear side. I’ll call these the Essentials and the Extras. Essentials are the (less obvious) items you absolutely can’t live without; Extras are the small items that make big differences in your experience. Here’s where I’ll need that help from the gallery, but I’ll at least start the list (if you chime in, I’ll add yours as we go):

    Essentials:
    • Separately stored copy of ID or Passport
    • Medical emergency and health insurance info
    • Medication(s), if you required
    • Copy of itinerary and contact info; also give one copy to your In-Case-of-Emergency (ICE) person
    • Eyeball contact solution if required; backup glasses are a good idea as well
    • Tampons for you ladies (you never know when you might flow)
    • Duct tape (for, well, everything)
    • Small to medium bath towel (for pretty much everything else)

    Extras:
    • Calling card (best picked up at destination airport on an international trip; WAY cheaper there)
    • Batteries (super expensive abroad, can’t always count on being able buy even domestically)
    • MiniDisk/MP3 player (won’t skip, holds lots of music, lightweight)
    • Digicam, plenty of digicam memory, a USB cord, and a USB memory key
    • Battery charger and plug adapter for any of the above tech (if needed)
    • Voltage inverter for use in charging from a rental car (great for road trips, works internationally)
    • Frisbee (seriously; can be used as a plate, bowl, or cup; to collect rainwater; to shield face from sun; to put camping stove on; to play cards on; to roll joints on; as a Frisbee; to shovel dirt on a campfire, and more!)
    • Copolymer/p-tex string and copolymer/p-tex mini-iron (for quick repairs; looks like a soldering iron, small and light)
    • Earplugs and sleep aids

    Moral of the Story
    So what's the moral when it comes to gear? In my opinion, it is that you should scale your equipment according to duration and discipline. For a one to two day dash to Alta, wear your one set of regular clothes to the airport, bring only your minimum ski clothes in your ski backpack, and consider borrowing or demoing some ultra-fats so you can go fully carry-on. For a 12 day trip to South America, bring up to two pairs of key items (skis, boots, goggles, gloves, shells, socks) for coverage and redundancy, and make sure you have the Extras and Essentials needed for a trip of that nature. My mantra: go as light as you can without compromising the core experience. Remember, if you bring something on an airline supported adventure, you may end up carrying it on your back at some point or another.
    Last edited by Yossarian; 08-22-2005 at 04:02 PM.
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  14. #14
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    Cocktease! but better now noonan.
    Last edited by lemon boy; 08-22-2005 at 12:22 PM.
    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Now, you might observe that all of this can begin to add up to a pretty hefty amount of junk, particularly for a longer trip. This leads us immediately to the related topic of packing tips, also known as:

    3. The Strategy
    When it comes to organizing and packing, there are two simple principles in play. First, that less is more; and second, that shit happens. Let me expound upon each in turn.

    Less Filling
    There are two parallel and complimentary reasons that less is more when traveling by air. First and foremost, the airlines only allow a certain number of pieces of luggage, with size limits for carry-ons, and weight limits for checked baggage. I'll do my best to list these regulations below. Second (and more importantly, I'd argue), you will almost certainly have to carry your gear on your back at some point for a significant period of time when you're traveling by air. This may be on the way to the airport, from terminal to terminal at a connecting airport, between an international and domestic airport (such as you do in Buenos Aires), or on the way to the mountain itself. And this means that weight and maneuverability are key. Running for a train when you've got skis on your back, two heavy bags in each hand, and your boots around your neck bashing you in the face while you're trying to hold back the hershey squirts is simply not that much fun (although the ladies do seem to like it).

    The Rulebook
    Here's my current understanding of the airline baggage rules and regulations:

    You may carry on one bag and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or laptop computer. A carry-on must fit under your seat or in the overhead bin; dimensions should not be more than 9” x 14” x 22” or 45 linear inches. The airline can require that you gate check a piece of carry on luggage if there’s not room on board. Exempted from this are crutches, canes, etc, child seats, and coats/garments. For the record, I’ve also never been challenged when I’ve gone on board with two bags (one big, one small) AND my ski boots in hand. More on that later.

    You may check up to two bags on any flight as well, unless you’ve got a high level of frequent flier status on that airline, in which case you may get one more free checked bag allowance. Each bag must be under 62 linear inches, and must weight less than 50lbs for domestic flights, and 70lbs for international flights. On United at least, a ski bag and a ski boot bag count as one item if you want them to. Thus, you can check a duffel, a ski bag, and a boot bag, but this also means that the ski bag + boot bag have to weigh less than 50lbs/70lbs together. I’ve never made use of this little exception because my boots are ALWAYS either with me onboard or in a ski duffel if they’re the second pair, but it’s good to know anyway.

    If you have a bag that is overweight, you will be charged an extra $25 per piece domestically, and bags over 100 lbs aren’t accepted at all. The international charge for overweight bags is quite a bit steeper. If you have more checked baggage than you’re allowed, you also get hit with a charge, around $80 domestically. If your bags are oversize, the same applies, $80 domestically. Penalty charges are additive, so overweight and oversize is bad, bad news. In practice, agents DO sometimes look the other way if you’re very close on weight, but it’s fairly rare anymore, and they certainly don’t have to.

    Let me just take this opportunity to pass on one other piece of advice. Don’t travel looking like a slouch if you can help it. The cleaner cut, better dressed, and more polite and put together you are, the more respect and favors you will get from the airline agents, flight attendants, security guards, and so forth. DO NOT underestimate how much this can smooth out the process at times. I’ve gotten free first class upgrades and drinks because airline employees have taken a liking, and I’ve been allowed extra and oversized bags because I looked like a nice young man. It’s rarer and rarer anymore, but it does still happen occasionally. Plus, I’ve sat next to some insanely hot women on flights before, and looking decent doesn’t hurt then either.

    Shit Happens
    Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned in the airline world. Seats get overbooked, storms roll in, airports get shut down, luggage gets thrown around, crews get overworked, flights get delayed, and eventually, bags get lost and connections get missed. However, there are three things that will help you deal with all of this abuse and uncertainty. First, you need the right mentality. It helps quite a bit to have a “we’re all in this together” approach to air travel; do that, and you’ll have a much better experience. Second, you may need pills. I cannot understate the benefits of drugs for extremely long international flights. And third, you need the certainty that you will be able to ski when you arrive no matter what happens with your checked bags.

    Cramming For The Test
    With that in mind, it's not hard to see how my packing strategy has developed. I work on a three bag system; the carry-on, the ski bag, and the duffel. One to two days, carry-on backpack only. Two to three days, backpack and ski bag. Three days and longer, all of the above.

    Let’s start with the carry-on. First of all, it should be a backpack. This will allow you to throw it on your shoulders and attach shit to the straps so your hands are free for carrying other bags or for groping husky latin women as you’re maneuvering around the airport/countryside/WC. Your carry-on should contain everything you need to ski for a day of lift-served at your destination, save for the skis, boots, and poles themselves, and very little else. This means you should have one pair of socks, one pair of pants, one outer jacket, one pair of gloves, and one pair of goggles in your carry-on. Polypro takes up next to no room at all, so they also go in on the basis of high warmth to weight and space ratio. I also include my little bathroom kit, which is nice to have to freshen up when you get stranded or stuck on a long layover, and then an MP3/MiniDisk, the digicam, one or two small books or magazines, and of course, wallet and ID. And that’s all you need. Throw your boots over the back of the pack, clip your helmet to the outside, and you’re good to go. If all else fails, you have everything you need to operate comfortably for days. This is also the only bag you need to pack for a one to two day code red dash.

    That’s My Bag, Baby
    Now, if you’re bringing skis, you’ll need to add the ski bag to the mix. Do not underestimate the amount of stuff you can cram into a ski bag. My feeling is that far too many people jump right up to the backpack, ski bag, duffel combo, when they could simply go backpack and ski bag. Here’s how to do it. First, open up the bag all the way, and put your skis and poles down in it. Let’s assume for now we’re talking one pair only. Next, take your soft clothes, and wrap them around the skis, protecting the binding areas and the tip and tails. Then take your extra gear, such as skins, water bottles, and so forth, and put them in the space between the bindings and the tip and tails. Finally, tuck in any remaining outergarments, and close the bag up carefully. Tighten all straps, then wrap and tie them down so they’re not hanging around to be caught in a conveyer system. You should end up with a totally stuffed sausage. There should be little to no room for the skis to slide around, and you’ve kept your tearable materials away from your skis edges (never put your outer layers near the skis themselves) while managing to protect your bindings. The whole thing should clock in around 30 lbs max.

    Two At The Same Time
    What if you have two pair of skis? Well, first of all, if you’re careful, you can probably fit them in the same single ski bag. By the way, officially, there’s only supposed to be one pair of skis in each ski bag, but as long as you don’t go overweight, nobody ever cares. I’ve only been called out on it once, and I was able to talk my way through it. Now, as for packing, the same principles apply, you just have to put the two pairs tip to tail, and offset the bindings a little bit. Also, when packing two pair, I put the hard goods (skins, peep, water bottles, etc) in between the pairs in the binding to tip and tail areas. So again, protect the binders and tips/tails with soft clothes, but this time put the rest of the gear in the space left between the boards, then wrap with remaining clothes and lastly outerwear, and close. The well packed double bag should weight in right around 45 lbs. As an aside, it really helps to have wheels on a dualie. Oh also P.S., it’s possible to get three pair of skis in a double if you’re really sneaky. But I can’t give away all my secrets!

    Everything But The Kitchen Sink
    Finally, for longer or more gear intensive trips, when there’s just no alternative to having another bag, you bring the duffel. Into the duffel goes the second pair of boots, the climbing gear, the sleeping bag, or whatever else it was that you just couldn’t fit in the ski bag and had to have. Not much to say here – this is your overflow option, so if it can’t fit in one of the first two bags, it goes here. Only one comment – it’s really helpful if your duffel is as compact as possible, and you can rig a system to attach it to the ski bag if your ski bag has wheels. This way, you can have your backpack on your back, your boots slung over the backpack, your duffel attached to the base of the rolling dualie which you can pull with one hand, and one hand free for groping husky latin women and fending off overly aggressive cabbies. Double Yahtzee!
    Last edited by Yossarian; 05-08-2006 at 09:33 AM.
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Expand Topic Medical Insurance / PC access

    Thanks for the travel tips.

    I have two questions:
    I am traveling to Portillo via Santiago Sept 3,
    I have HMO Blue Cross, they tell me I am covered (Out of Area) its an 80/20 deal. I'm an old guy with very bad knees. If I get hurt it will most likely be a total loss of a knee (ACL Replacement) So what are the Hospitals and orthopedic surgeons like down there? Do I even want them touching me if I am not unconscious? Have you heard of any supplemental trip insurance? Anything worth the cost?

    2: I am taking my brand new Digi Cam but I do not want to take my Laptop, Are there PC's available @ the resort to download, zip and email my Pic's? Do public use PC’s have a burner? Should I take blank CD’S?

  17. #17
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    4. The Trip
    Ironically, I’m writing this section from seat 23D of United flight #258. Not that it’s so unusual for me to be on a plane (obviously), or that there’s anything particularly special about either seat 23D or flight #258, rather, it’s that this is the section where I’m going to do my best to write down all the miniscule little airport tricks and travel habits that have become second nature at this point, that largely allow me to slide through the system like I’ve just bathed in KY Jelly. Why is that so ironic, you ask? First of all, I’m a water-based lube guy myself. But more relevantly, tonight I arrived at the airport 40 minutes before flight time out of a major hub, and I still managed to be the third person on the plane. Plus, parking for two weeks is going to cost me $12. So, how did I do it? Well, first of all, let’s discuss:

    Them Fancy Duds
    In the last section, I mentioned the importance of dressing and presenting yourself reasonably well (or at least not poorly) when traveling by air. Remember, the airlines are a service industry, and in any service industry you will get serviced in a manner befitting the way you’re perceived. However, there’s more to this game then simply trying to win a few brownie points and the occasional lavatory make-out session. First of all, you’re going to be spending some serious quality time over the next odd hours (sometimes very odd!) in close quarters with 100 of your new best friends, strapped into a seat with barely enough room to pick your thong out of your butt without pulling something badly; so have the decency to wear clean clothes. Second, depending on the length of the flight, make a point of wearing something comfortable and practical. Ladies, this means no short skirts (sorry guys), and no uncomfortable panties (preferably none at all!). Guys, this means boxers (who wears briefs these days anyway, right? Now those boxer-brief deals…), and pants. For really long flights and/or redeyes, wear sweats, comfy socks, and bring a baseball cap or visor to lower over your eyes for better sleeping.

    The Need for Speed
    Equally important as dressing for comfort, however, is dressing for speed. No Roo, I’m not talking about adding racing stripes. We all know that stripes make things go faster on the road, but you have to trust me, the same is not true in the airport. Keeping in mind the hassle of handling your bags at origin and destination (and the climates and conditions at each), the other thing you can do is wear clothes that allow you to slip through security quickly and easily. First, wear pants that don’t require a belt to stay up. Second, don’t put shit in your pockets. Third, no big metal jewelry or extras (sorry Phunk, you have to leave the bling at home). Finally, and most importantly, wear footwear that you can slip on and off instantly and still move fast in if you have to. It’s really all about the right footwear. Like any climber will tell you, if you do nothing else, pay attention to your feet. Beach flips won’t do it if you have to run for a plane (or from a particularly husky latin woman). And fancy shoes with metal shanks and lots of laces are really bad idea for going through security. So what’s the solution? Yes, you guessed it. Velcro! Sneakers with Velcro straps, like the kind you used to wear 20 years ago. There’s really no other way to fly. Ha ha, actually, I just came up with that right now. But it’s a goddamn good idea, and I’m picking up a pair of trendy Velcro Pumas or something ASAP. I’m told they’re “hot” these days anyway. In the meantime however, I’ll keep wearing what I always wear - my Birks. Solid enough to run in if I have to, and yet I can kick them onto the conveyer belt without ever having to bend down (don’t try this advanced move without a LOT of practicing, as TSA employees do not respond well to taking stank rods to the pie-hole); you can call me a hippy if you want to, but a good pair of sandals go a long way in bypassing:

    The Airport Clusterfuck
    Navigating each airport’s particular system is something akin to an art form. I can try to put down as many tidbits about various airports as I can – and I will here in just a moment – but in the end, it’s on you to develop a sense for the principles of layout and flow, and to learn how to leverage that sense to find the loopholes and weaknesses in the system. That being said, because I have spent a fair amount of time bouncing around, I at least owe it to you to try to give you something to start with, right? Plus, this will be another place where people can really contribute! Here goes mine:

    Airport: Denver/DIA
    Mass Transit: RTD Bus Line runs from downtown Denver, Boulder, and surrounding areas. $8 each way, plenty of room for ski bags underneath busses. Drop off is curbside on baggage claim level, pickup is last island out on baggage claim level. Cash only, exact change only.
    Parking: Outlying parking is $5 a day. RTD Park-n-Ride’s are free. You do the math. Nearest Park-n-Ride is Airport and 40th, about 15 mins from the airport. RTD to/from there is only $6.
    Check-In: There are semi-hidden self check-in kiosks for United on the baggage claim level, one door south of the RTD drop-off. Rarely a line. Only works for 100% carry-on.
    Security: Moderate on average. Generally, people flock to the north checkpoint; try the south checkpoint first. Alternatively, if security is totally effed at both ends of the main terminal, go up to the check-in/mezzanine level and walk north across the bridge to the Concourse A checkpoint, then get on the train to B or C if needed.
    Time to Gate: With no lines anywhere, getting from curbside to gate takes about 20 minutes.

    Airport: Chicago/ORD
    Mass Transit: CTA Blue Line runs from the Loop every 10 or 15 minutes. $1.75. Ski baggage definitely a hassle, but doable. Try getting the end of the first car in the train. Drop off is underneath O’Hare Terminal 2. From platform, go up escalator, out through gates. Terminal 2 is straight ahead, Terminal 1 is to the right, Terminal 3 is to the left. For terminals 1 and 3, take people movers down long corridors to escalators to gain baggage claim level. Go up again to get to check-in level.
    Parking: Generally, don’t. CTA does have a Park-n-Fly at the Cumberland and Rosemont stops, the last two stops before O’Hare, but you should probably just get someone to drop you off if you’re not going to ride the EL in the first place.
    Check-In: Most airlines do have self check-in these days. United has a bank of kiosks that no one ever notices against the outside wall of the airport. Walk in the doors from curbside and look back behind you to the left and right along the windows.
    Security: Highly variant; timing is key. If the standard line for Terminal 1 is really bad, go over to the small Terminal 2 checkpoint at the south end of the Terminal 1 check-in area. Once inside, you can go right back over to Terminal 1 by taking a hard right.
    Time to Gate: With no lines anywhere, getting from curbside to gate takes about 15 minutes. Add 10 if you take the CTA.

    Airport: Washington/IAD
    Mass Transit: Kind of, but it’s a pain. The Metro doesn’t go out to Dullus, so you have to take it out to the second to last stop I think it is, then pick up the Washington Flyer Connector, which is a bus shuttle operated by the sole taxi company allowed to work at the airport. Costs ~$10 I think, and is a small pain in the ass. Unfortunately, it’s probably better to drive or get dropped off.
    Parking: The medium-term parking is actually reasonably affordable, and quite close in. Go to Parking Garage 1 or 2 (I forget which, but it’ll be obvious which is closer) and park at the southeasternmost corner. There’s a shuttle bus that picks up right there; if it’s there, take it. Otherwise, just walk, it’s only 10 minutes. Big construction projects lately, things may be changing.
    Check-In: Yep, there are self check-in kiosks hidden near the curbside entrance down the ramps from the baggage claim level. If you have to check bags, you’re fucked – regular check-in at IAD is a serious SNAFU. When it gets busy, the security line stretches far enough back so as to co-mingle with the check-in lines. In fact, when you come up from baggage claim level, you are forced to cut across the security line to get to the check in lines. When it gets really busy, it looks like a scene from a bad movie, shoving matches and all. Basically, I loathe IAD now.
    Security Highly variant; timing is key. Generally moderate to long, but can be extremely long. Usually sucks.
    Time to Gate: Dullus uses those funky elevated bus people movers to go from the Terminal to the Concourses, slowing things down further. With no lines anywhere, curbside to gate is around 25 minutes.

    (continued in next post)
    Last edited by Yossarian; 08-29-2005 at 11:32 AM.
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  18. #18
    Join Date
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    (continued)

    Airport: Portland/PDX
    Mass Transit: Yes, I do believe there is a light rail connection into the city, however longer term parking is cheap and very close by, and I usually just do that for convenience.
    Parking: In fact, I’ve actually checked, gone through security, realized I’d left my phone on top of my car back at the longer term parking, ran back out, snagged it, and gotten back to the gate before boarding time. As you come right in to the airport, take the left exit to the medium/long term parking (whatever they call it), go through the gate, then take a hard right and proceed all the way down towards the Terminal. Take a right again, and there will still be some parking lot left immediately north of the Garage parking. Park in here if possible. From here you can walk through the Garage and the rental car area, and be at the terminal in about 5 minutes. And you still pay the long-term rate.
    Check-In: No tricks, and none needed. Portland is great to fly out of, as it’s rarely truly busy.
    Security: Security is also pretty short on average. There’s only two issues with security at PDX. One, there’s only one line per half of the airport (A, B, C on one side; D, E on the other), so unless you have flier status, there’s no way around, and two, if you happen to be connecting through PDX and have to switch airlines, there is no alternative to leaving security from the one half of the airport, and having to stand in line again on the other half. United and Delta are over in D and E, I seem to remember, and Horizon, Alaska, etc are over in A/B/C. Can’t remember where Continental and Northwest are, but I think Continental is D, Northwest is E. Anyway, if you’re connecting through PDX and switching airlines, be wary of a tight connection.
    Time to Gate: With no lines anywhere, curbside to gate is about 10 minutes. Portland is a great place to fly out of.

    Airport: San Francisco/SFO
    Mass Transit: BART is one of the best mass transit systems in the country, and runs out to SFO on the SFO/Milbrae line from all over the Bay Area. Downtown to SFO takes about 35 mins and cost around $5 or so. Oakland is 50 mins, about $8. Trains are quiet, clean, and spacious, big bags are definitely manageable as long as you’re not traveling at business day commute time. BART drops off at the SFO Airlink station – take the escalators up, and grab the obvious inbound line (red I believe) to the Terminals, exit Airlink and cross bridge, down down escalators to check in.
    Parking: Never done it. BART rules.
    Check-In: Same old story here, no tricks that I know of. Some self check-in kiosks, but none tucked away that I know of.
    Security: Overall, pretty moderate. There are at least a couple different security lines at the check in areas, and generally, the lines stay pretty manageable. No loopholes that I know of, but I’ve also never been screwed by security at SFO. I have, however, been hit on by the male TSA screeners here though.
    Time to Gate: Check-in and security aren’t bad, but they’re also not great, and the gates are way out there in some cases. With no lines anywhere, curbside to the far gates is probably 20 mins. However, some gates are right there, and Time to Gate is probably 10 minutes.
    Last edited by Yossarian; 05-11-2006 at 08:51 AM.
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Being so far from a globe-trotting traveler as Sr. Yoss that it's embarrasing, I have only one little thing to add. This really doesn't apply to just traveling, but in your cell phone, stick in an entry that's simply ICE (not to be confused with iceman) so if somebody finds your body laying in a heap at the bottom of a chute (possible, hope not) or a gutter outside a bar (more likely), they will be able to instantly call your emergency contact. EMT's and such are now suggesting this and will recognize it in your cell phone.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Space reserved

    5. South America Specifics
    Under construction


    MTT, quick answers for now because I happened to see this, will go back and incorporate as soon as I can.

    1. Internet access is generally surprisingly good in Chile and Argentina, slightly better in Arg. I've found. Most resorts have some kind of internet cafe available either at the resort, at a nearby hotel (which you may have to poach), or in a nearby town, as long as it's of decent size. Rates are cheap, done on a per minute basis, usually with a minimum of 5 minutes or something. Cost you a buck or two, basically. Calling internationally isn't terribly expensive either, particularly if you wait until after hours (or before hours). I would not bring PC, but I'd bring a USB cable, and I'd bring a USB Memory Key (aka Thumb drive). I'd also bring extra digi film/camera memory so you don't have to rely on being able to send/transfer shots in order to clear off more room. Don't bother with CDs, burners are rare. As for Portillo in particular, there's no town there to speak of, only the resort itself. So you can probably check at the hotel to be sure, but yes, I do believe we've seen posts from the TGR community from Portillo this season, so I would guess there's something.

    2. Coverage: longer topic, have to get back to you on that.
    Last edited by Yossarian; 08-29-2005 at 11:32 AM.
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  21. #21
    bklyn is offline who guards the guardians?
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big E
    Being so far from a globe-trotting traveler as Sr. Yoss that it's embarrasing, I have only one little thing to add. This really doesn't apply to just traveling, but in your cell phone, stick in an entry that's simply ICE (not to be confused with iceman) so if somebody finds your body laying in a heap at the bottom of a chute (possible, hope not) or a gutter outside a bar (more likely), they will be able to instantly call your emergency contact. EMT's and such are now suggesting this and will recognize it in your cell phone.
    I hear that's an urban legend.
    I'm just a simple girl trying to make my way in the universe...
    I come up hard, baby but now I'm cool I didn't make it, sugar playin' by the rules
    If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from, then you wouldn't have to ask me, who the heck do I think I am.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    The Continental Divide
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    7,278

    Talking

    About the socks - I knew somebody that never washed their socks, or any of their clothing for that matter. But the socks, they conformed to the shape of the foot. Kinda like a custom heated liner. Could be a good thing.

    The stench was outrageous...

  23. #23
    Join Date
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    Sections 4, 5, and 6 still in progress; please add/suggest/comment on the Essentials and Extras section in topic #2!
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  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    a couple of things:
    I believe that UAL does charge for the privelege of transfering FF miles from one person to another (like 20 bucks + .01/mile IIRC) but buying tickets in another person's name is functionally free (I'm flying lots this month on my bro's miles and have exchanged him an upgrade or two for his trips back to Aus).

    As for the cell idea: I'm really hoping that whatever emt rescues me is smart enough not only to keep the old heart beating but also call up the entry in my phone that says "mom" that'd be a good starting point I think

    Agreed with Yoss theory on being nice in airports my dad who is no slouch bidness traveller lives by the golden rule, be nice to everyone at the airport because they can make your life fucking miserable if they want and can totally fucking style you out if they want to as well.

    Drugs, one word: Ambien

    thanks again Yoss, this stuff is titties. I sense yet another permanently stickied thread with your name on it ya bastige.
    "It is not the result that counts! It is not the result but the spirit! Not what - but how. Not what has been attained - but at what price.
    - A. Solzhenitsyn

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    5,957
    Where does one go about picking up some flying pills on short notice?

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