By Madeline Blasberg
Thanks to my compulsive list-making, packing is a process that is always very well thought out (i.e. very well googled), the list goes through at least 4 revisions, and every article is placed under intense scrutiny to determine if it is indeed worthy of the space it will occupy.
After days of running around and collecting everything I need, the packing begins. I follow the list, roll each piece of clothing as tightly as possible, and meticulously stack, stuff and smash until everything fits. Then I stand back and admire my handiwork. …And then everything falls apart.
Because you see, I’ve done my job too well. There’s just too much empty space and wouldn’t that be a waste? Just think of all the extra stuff I could bring… Then somehow, I’m back in my closet, pulling out more outfits, more shoes, more books and journals to fill in the vacant space.
I call this Stress Packing.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s the slightly less evil cousin of stress eating. Stuffing brownies into your face because you have a final in the morning, and stuffing extra dresses into your suitcase because you have a flight in the morning are really not all that different. They are both the destructive result of freaking out.
You start to see the trip as a reality, and all the things you don’t know and cant anticipate start to feel a little freaky. You see all the clothes you love and are leaving behind, and wonder if you’ll need them/ miss them/ want them.
My advice? Zip that suitcase after you’ve finished your list and don’t come near it again. If you have to, assign someone to guard it. Trust your list. In addition, there is something you’ll have to make peace with – I know I did. Sometime after landing, you’ll realize you don’t have everything you want. You’ll have to accept that. You will realize that there is something at home, or in Target Greatland that you wish would have made it into your checked luggage. Just a reality, babe. Not a big deal.
When you discover what this forgotten item is, you’ll have a decision to make. You’ll need to decide if you can do without it or if you need to find a replacement. Both decisions you are capable of.
So how did I do?
Well, with the exception of a few extra shirts (and I counted absolutely every shirt- even if it’s a “layering piece”…which really should count as half a shirt), I did extremely well. One checked bag for 6months = huge gold star for Maddie. AND no tears. Not one.
As I’m writing this from the Atlanta airport, I think I am ready to make a ruling on my success- at least in regard to my carry-ons. Not bad, and yet no so good. I have a small duffel and a big purse. The purse is a little heavy: laptop, reading material, a few granola bars, bottle of water, journal, electronics etc. Overall, it’s not a problem. The bigger pain is the duffel.
It doesn’t take very long to realize that the businessmen and women in the airports – the most efficient travelers – don’t ever mess around with the hassle of a duffel bag. They stream line with tiny little rollers and tiny little purses. That’s because duffels are deceptively friendly. You look at it and think, oh yeah, I’ll just fling it over my shoulder and be on my way. Not so fast sparky.
You won’t fling, you’ll hoist. And before you can just ‘go on your merry way’ you will need to stop and apologize to the man whose shoulder your just wacked as you tried to find your seat. Ok. It really isn’t so bad, but I’ve learned this lesson for the last time. No. More. Duffels. Yucko.
In case you’re interested here is a copy of my packing list. (Gentlemen- fair warning, this is a woman’s packing list, so you may want to make a few adjustments)