On packing a bag

So, I’m packing for Phoenix, or thinking about what to pack, at least, and one of the blogs I read linked today to this article: “Carrying Off the Art of One Carry-On.”  (From Lifehacker’s “How to Cram All Your Travel Gear in One Bag.”)  This idea is very appealing to me.  I’m only going to be in Phoenix for two days and two nights.  It seems like I shouldn’t need more than a small, carry-on type bag.

I consider myself to be good at packing for travel based on two shaky premises:

1). I rarely need more than one bag.  The only exception to this that I can think of is when I went to Italy for two months.

2). I have always packed less than the people around me.

There are several reasons these are shaky foundations: first, because who says that packing less is packing better?  Yes, there have been times when I wished I had packed an extra shirt or pair of socks or, once, any pants at all.  Second, my most frequent travel companions so far in my life have been my family members, mostly my mother and sister, both of whom pack/require (for my tastes) many more cosmetic items than I do (hair dryers, for instance).  So I may not be the light luggage wunderkind I think I am.

One of the reasons I consider myself (and may even be) good at packing a bag is that I did it so often as a kid.  This is one of those talents that is forced upon the children of divorced parents: you learn quickly what to take, how much to take, what you can live without, and what a hassle it is to lug around a heavy bag versus one that doesn’t have all 18 library books in it.  But it’s kind of strange to tie that skill back to that experience.

Anyway, my favorite line from this article, and one that would drive my mother nuts, is this: “The catalogs are full of wrinkle-free travel clothes, but you can skip these if you’ve spent your adult life, as I have, carefully cultivating a rumpled look.”

Some of the advice here is good (“If you or your travel partner require a lot of prescription medicine, split it up so you’re each carrying half the supply of each drug. You’ll avert disaster if one of you loses your luggage.”), some of it is questionable (“Most blue jeans are too heavy and slow-drying for travel”), and some of it is specifically geared toward, well, older men who travel for a living (“Leave your hair dryer at home. Instead, get a low-maintenance haircut.”).  But I still like the idea of an organized, purposeful bag.

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2 Responses to On packing a bag

  1. Ellen says:

    When I was 16 I went to England for two weeks. My mom was on the trip with me and she insisted on buying me a “quick-dry” wardrobe, forcing me to leave my jeans at home in favor of nylon pants and nylon skirts. The trouble is, no one else on the trip had been forced to do this, so I had to watch my friends put their JEANS on every day while I wore things that didn’t have pockets, or any kind of insulation.

    I don’t think I’ve ever traveled since without jeans. Oh lovely jeans.

  2. Jenn says:

    Yeah! This is definitely written by someone who either hangs out with a lot of also quick-dry-wearing compadres or who doesn’t like jeans for other reasons.

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