Yesterday I did a packing run-through. No, I didn’t “time it.” Everyone always wants to know if I time the packing run-throughs. But the purpose is not to pack quickly, it is to pack intelligently.
I have a love-hate relationship with packing. I have had severe failures, such as the time I took only casual clothes to Vancouver thinking, “It’s Canada. How dressy can it be?” (Sorry Heather). We rented a condo downtown and went to lots of posh restaurants and I was under-dressed for all of them. Then there was the time I went to Puerto Penasco for Spring Break. I brought only sundresses thinking, “It’s Mexico, it will be very hot!” But it was freezing and I had to buy a cheap sweatshirt to wear over all those pretty dresses.
I have been following my friend Aimee’s blog as she and her husband and 2 daughters drive in their VW van up the Northeastern seaboard. I keep thinking, if I had 2 daughters to take care of what would I do! It’s hard enough packing for just me. I wonder how many packing run-throughs Aimee did? I know I can’t take a trip without a few of them. And to think, Kirk and Corinne are bringing their two kids Justin and Emma to France. I hope they have done ample packing run-throughs.
So it’s time for a packing run-through. But there are a few things that make it difficult. First off, John and I are arguing about luggage. He wants to use the old Samsonites we got for Christmas from his mom in 1999. They tip over forward when you let go of them, they are missing zipper pulls, and the telescoping handles no longer telescope. I want to buy new Samsonites at Ross for $50 each but John says if we both use the old ones that’s a $100 dinner out in Barcelona. I did the packing run-through with the old Samsonite, but frankly I might hit Ross for a new one and tell John I borrowed it from a friend.
Second, we will carry-on our luggage on the flights to Europe. I say flights because we used frequent flier miles, and to get to Europe on frequent flier miles in July, you have to get creative. We have 4 flight segments: Phoenix to LA, LA to Philly, Philly to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Barcelona. Even if we only had 2 flight segments, we would still carry-on our luggage. That’s the rule. Way there: carry-on, Way back: check. That way there’s no chance of luggage getting lost and spending the trip without it. But since we will carry-on our luggage, we have to pack light, and we have to get our liquids into Ziplock bags. After so many years of backpacking, we’re pretty good at packing light. The trick is, pack it once, then take out 25% of what you just packed.
So I did the packing run-through, and I had a few goals. First, fit everything into my 22” Samsonite and my REI backpack. Second, have enough outfits so that I don’t look like I took all my pictures in one day. Third, bring running and swimming gear so I can attempt to limit my weight gain to 5 pounds. When I went to Scotland and Ireland for 2 weeks in 2002 I actually lost 7 pounds even though I consumed nothing but fish & chips and beer. However, I don’t think my metabolism is faring as well now that I’m closer to 40 than to 30. More recently I gained 5 pounds in Buenos Aires, and that trip was only 5 days long.
Especially on a trip that will last 18 days, I want to avoid mistakes. I start the run-through by putting out the packing tools first: packing cubes, toiletry bag, and plastic quart bag for 3 oz liquid containers. Years ago I read this great tip: pack electronics in a toiletry bag to keep the cords organized. Love it! John checks on me a few times during my packing run-through, and he is certain I will not have room for both a dressy bikini and a work-out bikini, much less goggles and swim cap. He smells failure. I want to prove him wrong.
Here’s what I manage:
In my Workout Cube: Running shoes, Visor, Sunglasses, 4 pr socks, 2 running tops, 2 running bras, 2 running shorts, Work-out bikini, Swim cap, Goggles
In my Jammie Cube: 2 pr jammies, 3 bras, All the undies I own.
In my Main Cube: 2 skirts, 2 shorts, 8 dressy tops, 2 cotton T’s, 8 sundresses
In my Swimming Cube: Dressy bikini, Pool cover-up, FlipFlops
In my Toiletry Bag: GPS & Cord; Camera, Battery Box & Cord; Garmin & Cord; iPod & Cord; Converter; Razor; Inhaler; Qtips, Floss; toothbrush
in my Ziplock Quart Bag: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, contacts, contact solution
Sundry items In my Samsonite: Black dressy sandals, Laundry Bag, Sun Hat
Sundry items In my REI backpack: Inflatable travel pillow, Clip-on LED light, 2 books, Travel purse with personal id, passport, Travelfolio with itinerary and papers
So there! I did it. There was even some room left in the backpack. When I finished my packing run-through I put on the REI backpack and grabbed the Samsonite and did a twirl for John, who was impressed. I think I thought of everything. Please email me if there is something I missed. I have time for a few more packing run-throughs before we go.