Take Me Away: A Packers Dilemma

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Greetings and welcome to a sensational Thursday afternoon.  Blog #79 is brought to you today by the letter P.  For Packing.  And that’s because that’s what I’m doing as soon as I finish writing this.  Packing.  We’re off the United States for nearly 5 weeks in the morning, and I’m determined to Pack Smart for this trip. 

Here are the bags I’m deciding on as recpticles for the chosen items.  The smaller one I have used for small trips of 2 – 4 days.  It happily takes a pair of pants, a few tops, a pair of shoes and necessary miscellany, like vanity and make up bags and accessories.

The larger one I’ve usually taken for longer trips of 10+ days.  It was the bag I took to San Francisco in November 2009.  Yes, that trip.  The trip that started this entire challenge.  On that trip, I took a couple pair of pants, assorted long-sleeve t’s and camis, a couple jackets, a pair of shoes, assorted miscellany, with a bit of room to spare.  We all know that I returned with much more than I went with!

The last time I talked about packing was when we were off to New Zealand for a month.  Who could forget blog #33 where I shared my homespun philosophy about packing and shared with you what I was taking for that trip.  It’s a blog post we’ll all remember, for sure.  What I have learned since then is that there’s a trade-off when one packs (and one likes and has a lot of clothes).  The trade off is this:

  • I have all these lovely clothes that I enjoy wearing… and since I’ll be away from home (possibly even having a holiday), I’d like to be able to wear some of those lovely things while I’m away


  • I have to lug all that crap with me myself.  No sherpa, no nothing – just me and my 45 kilos of luggage, awkward as ass with my computer bag falling off the top of the wheely suitcase.  Straining my back and my shoulders and other muscles I never knew I had.  Off the baggage carousel, out of customs, into a taxi or shuttle, into the hotel.  Sigh. 

So I’m keen to keep my packing smart.  And by that I mean: not too much.  I’m tempted to take one pair of jeans, 4 tops, 2 jackets and one pair of shoes.  That’s it (well, smalls+ accessories would be necessary as well).  Let’s see how I go later this evening.  Which is when the Packing (Smart or otherwise) will commence in ernest.

Approaching packing. I have a particular approach to packing.  It starts with thinking about packing, which leads onto planning my packing (no, thinking about and planning are not the same thing — related, like third cousins, but not the same).  Then I do pre-packing (laying things out on the bed), then I move onto packing proper.  Listified, it looks like this:

  1. thinking about packing…. this is a dreamy state, where I visualise, I imagine, I combine various items in my head that could create great outfits.  It’s a very fertile time where no practical steps are taken but it’s paving the way for phase 2….
  2. planning my packing…..this is where I gather all the information I’m going to need to be able to pre-pack.  Specifically what I need to know is:
    • what I’m going to be doing while I’m away.  This is so I know what to pack so I’ll have the right clothes.  For this particular trip, I’ll be:  catching up with friends and work colleagues – all fairly casual; facilitating a professional workshop; and appearing on various television shows to talk about My Year Without Clothes Shopping.  I’ll also be doing some sight-seeing and relaxing
    • what the weather will be like where I’m going.  Layers are the way to go, wherever you’re headed.  But are we talking cami + a sheer silk shirt layers, or a wool wrap + heavy coat layers?  For this trip, I’ll be in California and the north east (Philadelphia and New York) mainly, so I’ll need to know what the weather is going to be doing in those places to move onto phase 3….
  3. pre-packing…. this is where my “possibles and probables” are laid out on the spare bed.  This is where I choose my primary colour and patterned pieces for my “capsule”, so that everything goes with everything, creating the most number of outfit choices out of the smallest number of individual items.  For this trip, my basics are black pants and denim jeans with turquoise as my main block colour, and ye olde faithful of animal print… not everything that’s laid out gets to go, as we find out in phase 4….
  4. packing proper… this is where the chosen items find their way into my suitcase.  Unfortunately, I have not yet trained my gear to leap into the suitcase of their own accord, so looks like I’ll be the one doing it.  Sheesh!

So that’s it, sports fans — my approach to packing.  I know it isn’t everybody’s way.  And if it isn’t yours, you may well be wondering what I’ve been inhaling.  You could be thinking:  by crikey, doncha just throw some gear at the nearst open duffel bag?  Well, no.  At least I don’t.

I am familiar with that approach to packing.  I’ve travelled with people who, er, pack that way (if you can call hurling seemingly random items into a bag packing).  I’ve stood next to them as they have “unpacked” (a languid activity that the word “upended” may better encapsulate) and they discovered, much to their surprise (but perhaps not so much mine) that easy-to-forget non-essentials like underwear are missing from their bag.  Necessitating a trip to the closest shopping mall.  Which may be 47 kilometres away.   By rickshaw.  Over muddy unsealed roads.  In a hurricane.

So, I’m happy to leave others to their own style of packing, and am happy to be left to mine.  Like Sonny on the first day of school in Grease, I’m not gonna take no crap about my approach to packing.  But I promise not to dish out any crap about your style of packing either.  Sound fair?  Course it does!  Right?

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