Don’t Pack More Than You Can Schlep: Fun With Trains in Belgium

You know what I think is crazy?  I spent maybe ten minutes packing for our first trip overseas.  Andrew and I had bought daypacks from MEC, and we figured we were good.  I also put zero thought into my travel wardrobe.  I just threw all my favourite clothes on the bed, and then from there chose the items I figured would be okay and I was able to cram into our luggage.  This boggles my mind.  The process is significantly more complicated now… but that may be a thought for a different post.

Something that we did even on that first trip, something that makes actual sense, is that we’ve only ever taken one medium luggage, and one carry-on sized luggage.  Never a large.  Even before I’d ever traveled at all, I firmly believed that you should never take more than you can carry.  This paid off the day we took the train from Paris to Amsterdam… because the train failed us in Belgium.


Kapellen, Belgium.  We spent about 10 minutes here in 2007.  This was not in the plan.

Shortly after that picture was taken, we discovered that our train had actually broken down, and the rest of our day came to resemble Planes, Trains & Automobiles.  Salty language may have been used as we lugged our heavy suitcases on and off an assortment of trains.

My journal states: “Andrew had gotten us first-class EuroRail tickets, so we were nice and comfortable, and the food and drink cart came by often.  But then we had ‘technical difficulties’, and stopped in Belgium.  We were told we could get out and roam about, so we did.  We hadn’t gone far when we noticed people returning to the train and collecting their luggage!  They were making their way to another train.  So… we did the same.  Turns out we had followed the crowd to the wrong platform, so we now had to head to a different platform — this included hauling our luggage over the tracks in areas not meant for pedestrians.  A train arrived and we hopped on.  It was a local train that stopped every two minutes.  We actually had a great time chatting with others in our area of the train, and got some time to really see the Belgian countryside up close… and slowly.  Eventually we arrived at a rural platform where we could disembark and find another, quicker train.  We had no sooner stowed our luggage and found seats together, when it was announced that the train would not leave because it was too full.  We’d have to get off.  So we took our luggage and got off the train and found a different one heading for Amsterdam.  It was interesting, the Thayls staff never said a word to us about the inconvenience…”

Sooooo… I think that’s six trains we’d been on that day.  I was actually a little pleased to have stopped in Belgium so I could say I’d been there (ha! hardly) — but by the time the complimentary wine had worn off, I was sick of hauling my our suitcases everywhere.  I guess this is why some people would say they swear by backpacking… but really, that’s not us.  We weren’t signing up for a hike or anything.


We had to keep our luggage with us as we toured the fjords of Norway.


Suitcases on the beach in Tel Aviv.  (It’s a long story… I’ll get to it yet.)

I’d have to say that the lesson I learned on our Belgian train day was that you can’t prepare for everything that’ll happen to you.  You might have to change trains six times in a day.  So don’t pack more than you’re willing to schlep.


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