Pack-Free Zone

I love traveling and seeing the sights. I love going to new places where I can explore new horizons, or just getting on a plane to head back east to visit family. But, in order to do all these things, there’s one thing you’ve got to do that, frankly, I don’t like. Not one bit. And that’s packing.DSCN7575

Packing limits you. Packing forces you to choose which outfit gets to go, and which ones have to stay home and mind the fort. And, I don’t care what they say about traveling light. If you ask me, traveling light is for the birds, and those that are able to do it, it’s because they live spartan lives and have nothing whatsoever to throw in a suitcase.

As for me, I’m of an age when I want to take the comforts of home with me. Not too much, mind you. But taking my bed, pillow and quilt would be good start. Then there’s the comfy green chair I like to sit in when watching TV. Wish I could fold it up into one flat square and fit it into my suitcase.

I’ll never forget flying all the way to Florida for a funeral, and in my grief, leaving my carry-on luggage on the plane. So much for toiletries, makeup, insect repellent, the book I was reading and what-not. My carry-on ended up in Brazil, where I imagine it got to dance the Bossa Nova under the moonlight. Meanwhile my legs remained firmly planted on Floridian soil and were attacked mercilessly by fire ants while sweat poured abundantly from my antiperspirant-free arm pits.

Sigh. My bag and I weren’t reunited until back at home. Which one of us got the better deal? I’ll leave to you to decide.

Actually, if I was like Samantha Montgomery in Bewitched or Jeanie on I Dream of Jeanie, I could just blink or wriggle my nose and transport my entire home to my destination. Voila! No need to worry about packing anymore, thank you very much!

Or maybe I could wish for a tornado, not the violent, deadly kind, but like the one that hit Dorothy Gale’s house in The Wizard of Oz, and it could lift my home and take me where I need to go. I wouldn’t mind landing on a witch as long as she was of the wicked kind, and as long as there were no flying monkeys about, because, jumping Jupiter, those critters are a bit alarming!

And don’t you just hate it when you get to your destination–whether it’s Paris or Cleveland–and you discover you left something important back home? Well, if you had your entire home with you, that would no longer be the case!

Once, when my son was barely three years old, we took a trip across country to visit the rels. I spent weeks packing one suitcase for me and another for my son. What a waste of time. It wasn’t until we landed that we realized in our haste to make it to the airport on time, my son’s suitcase had been inadvertently left at home in the foyer. Yikes!

Now I know what you’re thinking. So what if the kid had to wear the same stinking outfit for the next 10 days. Maybe we could stop at the store and pick him up some jammies, sure. No problem. But, here’s the thing: His favorite baby blanket, otherwise known as, his “babiki” was in his suitcase! That had to be Fed-ex’d to us. STAT. Luckily my neighbor was able to do just that, but imagine how much easier it would’ve been if we’d just brought our entire home with us. I’m just saying.

All this to say, I’m getting ready for a short trip, which will include a fancy dinner at a posh restaurant. Which has me wondering, why do I have to decide now which dress to pack? Why can’t I take them all and wait to see what I feel like wearing on the day of??

And if I do end up packing all my dresses, how do I prevent them from wrinkling? Do I roll each item of clothing into a tiny ball as was once recommended to me, or lay them all flat or just throw them willy-nilly into the suitcase and hope for the best? Decisions, decisions.

And what’s up with most airlines charging us for checked baggage? It’s like having to buy a plane ticket for my suitcase, too. The way I see it, I should at least be entitled to an extra bag of peanuts, the one my suitcase is not going to eat.

So how about you? Where do you stand on the packing issue? Are you a light packer or do you need a minimum of four suitcases for a weekend getaway? Any solutions to this age-old packing dilemma?

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36 thoughts on “Pack-Free Zone

  1. I always take my own pillow when I am driving. And I have learned to resign myself to the reality that I *always* forget something. ALWAYS. Once it was my glasses which I normally don’t wear except before contact lenses in the morning, and after them at night. So, okay, I was stumbling around like a zombie then, but I could deal. Sometimes it’s something I can borrow or buy where I’m going (hello, female sanitary supplies!) Phone chargers. Hair scrunchies.

    I canNOt pack light. Even packing light, for ME, is way overpacking for someone else.

    I do think rolling your dresses is probably the best method to avoid wrinkling, but most hotel rooms these days offer irons, so you might be able to iron upon arrival.

  2. Yep, those fire ants. We call them just red ants. First thing you learn when you come to Miami is to spot where they are and stay away. I learned when I was 5 years old. I get a boil from each and every bite.

  3. Just the products required to keep my curly hair under control could take up an entire suitcase. But I am learning to scale back. Knit ware that doesn’t wrinkle or at least falls out in the steamy bathroom makes great travel garments. I’m collecting basics in black and brown.

  4. I used to be like you, but after my trip to Europe this past summer, I’ve realized the benefit of downsizing. I tried it out last weekend when I went to Denver for the weekend (a wedding). It was the first time I packed just what I needed with no extras. It was strange not having options but on the other hand, my luggage was extremely light. As for my make-up. I carry it with me. Can’t lose it. Too costly to replace!

    • On my travels this weekend, I also forgot my blush brush. At least I thought I did, and ended up using my fingers which made me look splotchy. Turns out, my blush brush was hiding in the recesses of my luggage along with my toothbrush. It was there all along.

  5. Monica, you are a lady after my own heart. I pack for my entire family. I wish the airlines didn’t charge us for extra cases, I need at least 2. I have now discovered those little cases where you can fold/ roll( so they won’t crease) your t shirts, yep! I pack atleast 10 of them, so even if I am stranded, I have five extra. I have another case for underwear( ugh! I want no one touching those or I use a good old zip lock) and I roll all our pants along the side of the suitcase, leaving room for some nice shoes to take and ahem! Stuff to bring back.
    On my last trip to Europe, my husband was aghast that I had room for five pairs of shoes, three handbags and um, more.
    My girls know how to pack too… They know to take extra of everything. And if we could each carry a pillow, soft sheets, a comforter and our towels, we would be soooo happy.
    Hope you had a lovely dinner, a relaxing time and bring back photos for us to enjoy.

    • MM, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’ve been, well, err, traveling. And in the process of packing, I forgot my toothbrush. Grr. I hate forgetting stuff. When I got home and started unpacking, I realized I didn’t forget my toothbrush, after all. I just stuck it in a compartment that I completely missed seeing until I got home. Grr. And so it goes.

  6. Just a thought…
    Surely one of the benefits to forgetting to take something on holiday is the fact it gives you the excuse to buy a new one in it’s place!!!

    • Yes and no. Depending what it is. Like when I left my son’s favorite blanket. There was no replacing that one. Had to be the real thing! How about prescription sunglasses? I wouldn’t want to have to deal with replacing those on a trip. Toothpaste? Yeah, that’s an easy one. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ah now I was thinking more of clothes etc….

        Your professional mind has sprung in with the essentials we should have treble checked in the first place.

  7. I love the idea if traveling, but the packing, transportation and sleeping-in-a-different-bed problems always leave me exhausted. Still, my family and many of my friends live far away, so I spend a lot of time in airports and on planes. I’m with Valentine… I color coordinate. Mostly so I have more room for shoes. And when it comes to toiletries, if I forget something, I just make a trip to the drug store. You can find a Walgreens almost anywhere.

  8. Monica, you’ve gotta do better with packing light. You see, when you take off, you have to leave room for all the shopping you’ll do. I must live a Spartan life myself but for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, I always manage to forget to pack my PJs. I think I was a guy in my past life, which is why I’m about packing light in this one.

  9. I try to be light but end up being heavy. I just think “one more thing” ya know. And then I am full to the brim. I try to take food with me, so on the way home, I can pack goodies that I buy. I am a shopper when I am away. I make excuses that I’d regret it if I didn’t get it. And then home, My bags are crazy FULL!

    • I know what you mean, Jodi. I go, what if it’s cold at night? Better pack a jacket. What if it’s warm at night? Add a light sweater. What if it’s in-between? Okay, add a sweatshirt. I take it all to cover my bases. And so on.

  10. I suppose because I travel so often I have learned the trick, color coding. Pack so you can mix and match. Shoes take up the most space, so all outfits should only require two pairs for the week.

      • This is likely not a good solution for someone who travels only now and then, but for me it is the perfect solution. I have duplicates of everything. I have my tolietries in duplicate and the remain in my suitcase, if I run out of something I replace it and immediately put it back in the bag, this includes make-up, shower stuff, everything. In addition I keep a list in my suitcase, it has all the normal stuff on it, stockings, socks, gym clothes, stuff like that, I just check the list. Finally when I am laying out my clothes, I lay out my under garments with my outfits, I know strange but that is what I do.

  11. Hard for me to separate packing from the ‘big picture’ — i.e., security lines at airports, delays and turbulence — but that never (totally) dampens the joy of getting away, especially someplace far enough to remind me there’s more to the world than New York. Seriously, packing does present particular dilemmas — especially these days when I opt to use my light carry-on bag: just big enough to contain all my needs (and usually more) for a long weekend, just small enough to fit in that overhead bin. But maybe here’s the key: if we take ALL the comforts of home with us, what will make us want to go back?;-)

    • Deborah, You raise a good point. Why would we want to go back? Well, my job alone is reason enough. Plus, you can’t beat the weather in San Diego. Nowhere else is it this beautiful all year round. So yes, I’d take my condo with me and in the end, after I’ve stayed a spell, I’d come back. Because, when push comes to shove, there’s no place like home! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. No matter how well thought out my packing is I always seem to either leave an essential at home or packed all wrong for the weather. I get to my destination and they are experiencing an unexpected heat wave or it is unseasonably cold.

    Enjoy your getaway.

  13. Hey, you’re lucky — you’re getting to go on a vacation AND visit a posh restaurant!! As for packing, both Domer and I are pretty good with it. He packs light; I’m just a good “stuffer”! My poor mom, however, sounds just like you. She always worries that wherever we’re going won’t have food. Or toiletries. Or anything. So she packs WAY more than she could ever use, then ends up not even taking the stuff out of the suitcases. But I so agree with you on airlines charging for extra luggage. I mean, really! Just because their employees must wear uniforms doesn’t mean the rest of us have to. Have a splendid trip, though!

    • Debbie, I just don’t like being forced to make a decision as to what I can take with me and what must stay. There’s too much pressure, and frankly I have enough pressure in my life as it is. Sigh.

  14. I must admit I am not a great traveller and have never flown, except perhaps when I tripped and flew base over apex down the stairs many years ago.
    But when I do go places I travel light, most important things are the MacBook and the iPhone, after that the rest can take pot luck. Though in all fairness the wife normally does the packing anyway. Unlike me she is terribly organised.
    So if travelling light is as you say for the birds then perhaps I am really an old vulture in disguise, now there’s a thought.

    Entertaining post as always Monica.

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