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Jul 08 2011

“What If” Packing

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Do you find your self dithering over which pair of shoes to throw in a suitcase…and then putting them both in? Are you packing a raincoat, a pancho and a travel umbrella? Are you packing a guide book for Paris on the off chance that you might take the chunnel over for half a day on your two day trip to London?

OK…take a deep breath. You are not going to like this.

Stop it.

No, I mean it. Stop it.

What if packing is part your travel stress? In fact, it may be most of your travel stress.

I am most of the way through a week at the beach, and while I am a pretty light packer, even I am looking at things I brought that I did not wear or use. Most hotels and condo complexes have a laundry facility that you can use if you need them. Bring stuff that mixes and matches well. If you only bring black slacks you can leave the brown shoes at home. I am at the beach, so why am I even TALKING about slacks? Now you have me doing it!

Theme park vacations aside, if you really need it, you can buy it when you get there. An umbrella, moisturizer or dress socks will be available if you cannot live without them. If you are smart enough to avoid convenience stores, most things you have to have won’t even be more money.

Are you packing an extra shirt in case you get a stain on one during dinner? Stop it. Pack a Tide Stain stick and rinse it out in the sink. Less room in your bag and less weight on your shoulder.

If you pick fabrics intelligently, most stuff will dry overnight. Stay away from 100 percent cotton. Look at nylon and polyester blends. You don’t have to buy travel dork clothes unless you really want to and you can look like a normal human being with some careful choices at Target or Wal-Mart.

If this guy can go to Thailand, Borneo and Bora Bora on one pair of underwear, SURELY you can take a breath and get by on a pair a day or (gasp!) plan on finding somewhere to wash along the way.

“What if people notice in our pictures that we always have the same clothes on?” First of all, if you take 500 pictures on your trip of a lifetime, how many do you actually get people to look at? Ten? Twenty? My friends eyes glaze over at 5! Some anecdotal evidence from a blogger compatriot here indicates that no one will even notice!

So here is some advice. First of all make a list of everything you might need to take and then slash half of it. Then set all of that stuff out on your bed and look at it. Do you really need all of it? Put half of it back.

Now spend a tiny bit of time panicking. Freak out about what you are leaving behind. Lock onto that feeling. Savor it…concentrate on it…dwell on it.

Do you like that feeling? Then let it go!

Think about where you are going. Think about the beach, think about the museums and the restaurants and the incredible memories you will make. Think about the stunning pictures you will take.

Do ANY of those things hinge on what you are wearing?

Then take a breath, and put some stuff back in the drawer.

I am not going to bore you with a packing list because YOU know what is important but I am going to tell you to trim it back. You will never be sorry that you left an outfit at home if it means you get to see one more sight.

Light packing is not the disease, it is the cure. Give it a try and I ASSURE you that a happier trip will be in your future.

If you can pack it all in one suitcase you can carry it on with you. If you carry it with you, you can take that $300 travel credit they are offering for taking the next flight. If you carry it on with you, you can skip the baggage claim.

If you carry it on with you they can NEVER LOSE YOUR LUGGAGE!

So…take a breath, and let it go. It’s just stuff. If you can do it with less, then your life will be easier.

2 comments

1 ping

  1. S

    Your links are wonky: They have “%20″ in front of them, and the “this guy” link portends to take you to ExOfficio vs. the story you may have had in mind.

    That said, good writing and thanks for the link!

  2. Jeff Mac

    Thanks for the heads up, it should be fixed now.

    The Exofficio link is actually on purpose…the whole “17 countries, one pair of underwear” thing cracks me up.

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    [...] Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Duffle Bag Review I am not really a “just in case” or “what if” kind of packer. While not a religious about it, I do try to streamline, minimize and I have even been known to [...]

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