I think I am getting the hang of this retirement gig. At least this year it seems to be all about going to cool places! So far this year I have been 'on the road' for 10 of the 24 weeks and in five different directions! It's fun, but involves lots of packing!
My first thought was to have a 'travel wardrobe.' You know, a well curated, small set of items that fit perfectly into a carry on and allows me to be ready for anything from climbing Mt. Hood to the Met Gala! OK, so maybe my travels have taken a left turn into 'Fantasyland.' BUT, wouldn't it be loverly!
(note: Why when you Google "travel wardrobe" do only women's clothes show up? Don't men travel?!)
I realized that the first problem with my imagined wardrobe was that I have not been traveling to places with the same seasons. Nor has the weather been just one season when I get to said destination. This of course confounds the packing problem....must pack for climbing Mt. Hood, the Met Gala, and a 60 degree temperature range.
Before each outing I have been agonizing about what makes the cut. Can I actually get away with only one pair of shoes? Can my yoga pants count as 'formalwear?' Will I really need both a sunhat AND a parka?
I make lists and piles and imagine all the possible combinations and circumstances...like I said...agonizing! (definition: adj. causing great physical or mental pain!)
Is this really fun?! Is this really how I want to start a trip? ...Actually, the answer surprised me. YES! 💡
Solving problems is what I like to do. So if I have to create a, so called, problem, as in "what the heck do I pack," so be it!
The question of 'what to pack' isn't just about 'the white t-shirt or the grey one.' It's the chance to prepare mentally to travel, to think about what it will be like, the kinds of things there will be to see and do...it's the trip before the trip! Two trips for the price of one, how cool is that?! By thinking of the 'what to pack' question as agony, I was giving away half the fun!
So after a bit of 'reframing' I am embracing the "what to pack?" part of the experience and feeling much more at ease with the process. I also realized that the dream of a single travel wardrobe was really a pipe-dream and letting that go has taken a lot of pressure off the decisions about what makes the cut and what stays at home.
There are some guidelines that have developed after several trips that seem to make sense, regardless of the place or the season I am packing for...
- Minimize the shoe count! Those rascals take up huge real estate in the suitcase. I try to get away with one or maybe two pair of shoes. Sometimes this means my hiking boots also double as my 'dressy' shoes....but if the trip is more about hiking than fancy dinners, it works just fine.
- Wear the big stuff. If I'm coming and going from different climates this looks a little strange at one end or the other. Example: might not need the raincoat getting on the plane or even getting off, but wearing it is a better use of suitcase space than packing it. or...wear the parka, pack the flip flops!
- Limit the 'one-offs.' I play a little game as I collect the items for a trip. "If this were the only thing I had, would it be OK?" So far I haven't actually found the single garment that covers all possible travel situations, but by asking the question I usually figure out several options for said garment, and can eliminate a few 'extras.' But sometimes you just have to take the Darth Vader helmet...that's all there is to it.
- Little stuff adds up! So how much space does an extra pair of socks really take? Not much, but there isn't that much space to begin with! Example: I have my 'travel panties.' They are light weight, they wick beautifully, they dry overnight...I only need 2 or 3 pair for any length trip.
- Don't pack packaging! This one is particularly helpful when it comes to toiletries.
- How far will I actually be from a Target? That's right...if all else fails a Target and a credit card will usually do the trick!
On my last trip as I checked in at the airline counter and assured the representative that my small carry-on suitcase was all I had, she said with obvious admiration in her voice, "My you travel light!" I smiled, politely and accepted her observation and didn't bother to mention that it only took me three weeks to pack! I'm sure if my travel year continues I can get that down to, I don't know, two weeks?? Bon Voyage!