Four clueless Americans in France, part deux

I swear we tried to cull our stuff. I even told the kids that they should turn their underwear inside out for the second week of our trip.

But there we were, lurching through the streets of Paris, six huge bags in tow - my husband dragging the two largest - as we tried to flag down a taxi.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, haul the bags down to the street and hail a cab. But as one after another of the petite Peugeot cabs sped past us with a mocking Frenchman at the wheel, alternately shaking their heads or laughing at the pitiful Americans surrounded by a sea of Samsonite, I began to realize that perhaps we had brought a bit too much stuff.

It's a common problem, and I've noticed it's a bigger problem for us women.

The idea of whisking yourself off to foreign land with a chic leather overnighter slung over your shoulder sounds positively spontaneous. But wait until you get close to the departure time.

The night before you leave is when you finally come to grips with the fact that you can't wear the same black pants for two weeks, no matter what that guy on the travel channel tells you.

Personally I think I should be so rich that I have clothes and toiletries scattered around the world. So all I have to do is show up and my handmaidens will have lined up a whole wardrobe of seasonally appropriate clothes and lighted the candles around my bath.

Don't laugh; some people actually live like this.

But seeing as how I am neither rich, nor practical, my luggage is a bit heavier than Elton John, who has a home in Nice and probably shows up with nothing more than a sheaf of sheet music. Or travel expert Rick Steves who survives a three-week trip to France with two pairs of kahkis and some swim trunks.

No offense Rick. Love your books, love your show and love your "travel like a local" philosophy, but I haven't quite mastered "the sweet freedom of true mobility."

I haul the bags, or, more accurately my husband does. Yes, I carry the little black rolling thing, and the kids carry their canvas duffels, but my husband manages the two big mammas. Two, large faux tweed suitcases overflowing with feminine gobbledy-gook (belonging to myself and my two stuff-addicted daughters) that my ever-patient husband has hauled all over France.

He maneuvered them up a tiny circular train staircase, he stuffed them into a port-a-potty sized elevator in Paris, and he brought them back down six days later to run valiantly down the Rue de Courcelles in search of a cab, just so his women would have their stuff.

I know there's more to being a husband and father than toting the bags.

But I also know that a lot of men have hauled a lot of stuff hither and yon for their families and have probably not been adequately thanked for it.

So on behalf of all high maintenance, over-packing females everywhere, let me just say thank you.

No, we probably don't really need all that stuff. But we sure appreciate you toting it for us.

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect." Contact her at www.forgetperfect.com.