TRAVELING LIGHTLY ... NOT!
When we make our way through an airport, I marvel at the light-footed traveler who checks in nothing, sports a single, smallish carry-on, and somehow, is perfectly equipped for whatever journey is ahead.
I’m not her.
Every time we travel, I experiment with techniques said to streamline luggage. Put each outfit in its own plastic bag. Roll your clothes. Bring one pair of pants, several tops, and you’re done. Checked luggage is for novices.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I still end up with a large bag to check, usually one to roll through the airport, and a personal satchel and purse besides. After all, I'm sure I'd be the one who would spill something toxic and staining on my one spare pair of pants. I'd be the one whose check-in luggage was lost. I'd be the one without whatever it is I need. And what if it turns cold and I have no sweater? Or hot and I have only sweaters?
So I over pack, and I flash back to first grade.
It was my first field trip, and a big one for a child who had never been on a day trip with anyone who didn’t include her mom. It was exciting! We packed into a school bus and headed to the Cincinnati Zoo.
We were traveling light, and I had with me a small, plastic, snap-shut change purse which held enough money for whatever I would need. Cotton candy, maybe. A toy? The possibilities were endless to trade from the contents of that pocket-sized money holder.
I don't remember what we did about lunch. It sure seems as though we would have brought brown bags full of food. It could be, however, we bought lunch there. I don’t remember the animals or who I hung out with, if anyone.
I only remember what I didn't have. The one thing I have never forgotten is that I lost my change purse at the start of the trip and the resulting feeling was of being utterly without resources, the trip spoiled.
It’s not a subconscious feeling. It’s right there, in the front of my mind. The coping messages sound off: Take an extra pair of glasses: What if yours break or the lens falls out? Carry-on underwear, makeup, an extra outfit: What if your luggage is lost? Do you have enough cash with you? What if you lost your credit card? Pack an extra camera: You want pictures, above anything you buy.
The real question always comes back to that little girl who lost her money. If I lose what I need, what will I do?
I vented about all this to a close friend the other day, herself a seasoned traveler. Hardly a month or two passes but she is off to visit her children in other states or on a vacation in Hawaii or even Paris.
“How do you do it?” I asked her in confidence. “How do you travel light?” I wanted some additional secrets, maybe a few that worked better than the plastic bags and rolled outfits that don’t. Most importantly, I knew I could ask her and not be chided for my ignorance of knowing how to pack lighter, the gold standard, it seems.
Guess what she told me?
She takes extra glasses, outfits, and over packs too.
I think rather than thinking I’m crazy to be channeling my inner six-year-old, and berating myself for schlepping it all through the airport, I’ll just relax in my over-preparation -- and roll with it.
What about you? I’d like to hear about your packing methods and if you can go light or if you, too, take along the kitchen sink.
9/20/2017 06:59:13 am
Oh Donna, this seems to be a woman thing. Just look at the back of the van when we go to the Lake for 2 days! I have traveled all over the world and that seems to be the number one problem of "how to pack lightly". I am interested to see what your readers have to say about this subject!
9/20/2017 09:58:37 am
Yes, Delaine, we are quite a sight, aren't we? I always think I need to be prepared for the "what ifs." When I covered the inauguration, one night I landed in my hotel room at dark and had not eaten dinner. I didn't want to go back out, wanted to crash and relax and room service was a fortune. I was happy I had packed granola bars. That was dinner!
9/20/2017 08:39:18 pm
🤔Israel 2015. 50+lbs of tshirts capris hair products and at least one pair of shoes for almost every day. . . Think I wore 2 different pairs of capris and maybe 3 pairs of sandals. Guarantee if I had traveled lightly I'd have needed what was still at home. 😉
9/21/2017 03:47:31 am
All that and you got by with just two capris?
Donna, I don't pack light, but I have worked on packing smarter! I now include a list in my empty suitcase. As soon as I start packing for a trip, I cross-reference that list to make sure that I didn't leave out anything that I can't live without. (The list was comprised mainly from the times I forgot something!)
10/27/2017 06:35:10 am
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