Packing: you either get it right, or you don’t

On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy. – Spanish Proverb

Some would say that packing is an art. When googling “best ways to pack for a trip”, I found articles ranging from 5-15 ways to pack lighter, smarter, or so you can fit more shoes. There’s the right way to pack, the best way to pack, and how to pack like a pro. Everyone does it differently; some roll it all, others lay everything flat. As far as I’m concerned, you’ll get it right if you can remember everything and you can get your suitcase zipped while staying under the airline’s weight limit.

I’ve been an over-packer since I can remember; the kind that packs for scenarios unlikely to happen. Packing two pairs of underwear for each day I’m traveling isn’t out of the ordinary for me, because you never know when you might accidentally pee or poop your pants. In the rare instance that it might occur every day I’m traveling, I’ll be ready. There’s always a pair of slipper socks tucked into the side of my suitcase in case my feet get cold. And for the remote chance I get invited backstage to meet a gorgeous rock star, I typically pack a fun glittery v-neck top. More often than not when I return from a trip, I unpack just as many clean clothes from my suitcase as I do dirty ones. It’s a fact.

img_2461Syd and I started packing today and I’m beginning to feel the anxiety build. It’s that ominous feeling of forgetting something; that one important thing I’ve overlooked and will remember once in the air. Before I zip my suitcase, I’ll ask someone to quiz me, “List the essentials for me: passport…check; boarding pass…check; toothbrush…check; underwear…check, check, and triple check.” You get the idea. Once I’ve checked everything off, I’ll announce loudly so everyone can hear, “Well, if I forgot something…I’ll just buy it when I get there!” That’s the signal to everyone else that I’m not going to worry any longer, at least not on the outside. Internally, I’m still running through the essentials in my mind all the way to the airport. It has to be THE worst part of traveling for me.

Irrational Fears, Potential Pitfalls, & Uptight Traveler Strategies

Your luggage gets lost – When I was 14 traveling to Greece for the summer to visit family in the remote villages of Katerini, the airline lost one of two checked suitcases that contained six weeks of outfits for a three week trip. I’m still wondering why someone didn’t warn me not to pack all my underwear in one suitcase. Of course, it’s the one they lost and I was forced to wear my sister’s underwear for a whole week until they rerouted my bag from Frankfurt to Athens, then via a five hour train from Athens to Katerini. I now travel with a change of clothes in my carry-on if I’m checking a bag. My toothbrush always goes in my backpack as well, even though I probably could pick one up just about anywhere.

Terrorist attacks and kidnappings – Sydney and I were out to dinner the other night and I was telling her how I had typed up a list of US Embassies and Consulates in each country we’ll be in. She asked, “Why? In case we get kidnapped?” I said, “Well, that’s pretty unlikely, but actually…in case of a terrorist attack.” She rolled her eyes at me and replied, “Jeez!” I proceeded to tell her the story of when my sister got stuck in Egypt during the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It was a scary time for all of us, especially her, and there were several phone calls made on both ends to try to get her home as soon as possible. It’s as simple as googling the contact information and having it accessible. I put my list in the back of our travel binder. It’s a scary time in the world right now.

States of unconsciousness – I quizzed Syd on the important phone numbers she knew from memory rather than relying on her contact list in her iPhone. There were only a few she knew by heart. Still able to remember all my friend’s phone numbers from middle school, today’s generation of teens haven’t exercised that part of their memory because they don’t need to. So, we made an emergency phone list that included numbers only one of us know by heart. Because you never know when the one who knows the number will be unconscious.

Your passport and/or credit cards get stolen – In the event that your passport and/or credit cards get stolen, be sure to make two copies of your passport ID page, and the front AND back of all your credit/debit cards. Many people forget to make a copy of the back of their credit cards which lists the phone number to call in case your card is lost or stolen. Take one copy with you, packed separately from your originals, and leave one copy with a trusted friend or family member back home.


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