Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Get Ready, Get Set...

There are some things I do reasonably well, but packing my suitcase is not one of them. I tend to want to pack for every eventuality, which means I often take things I never wear or use.

Up until yesterday, I hadn't done anything in preparation for our upcoming trip, other than take 10 French lessons. I know I had been putting off that awful step of packing, or even thinking about what to pack.

Sunday night we had dinner with the couple who are going with us to France. She said she had laid out everything she was going to bring, choosing a color and carefully coordinating her wardrobe. She ended up with 1 skirt, 2 pairs of pants, and 6 tops of various types. She is going to bring a very small suitcase and carry a small tote bag on the plane. That's it! I remember exclaiming, "I'm sure I can do this. You've given me some great ideas."

But yesterday when I laid out my things, I had way more than what would fit in one small suitcase. I could never pick just one color, so my clothes were not completely interchangeable. I won't even begin to tell you how many pairs of shoes I had chosen.

Part of it is that I think of every eventuality – What if it rains? What if it's cold? What if it's hot? What if we go to a really fancy restaurant in Paris or Nice? What if we are riding our bicycles and I need to dress in layers? What if I run out of things to read? Snacks? You get the picture.

Instead of making these critical decisions, I simply pile up more and more things that must somehow be packed. It's almost like a disease. I would be far better off if someone gave me a packing list and said THIS IS ALL THAT YOU CAN BRING. By God, I'm sure I'd manage just fine. It's this freedom that gets me in trouble.

Part of me is determined to go home tonight, pick a color – like black – and put about half of what I packed that doesn't fit with black back in the drawers, back in my closet. Will I actually pull this off? Unlikely. Instead I will probably take my medium-size suitcase (fully expanded), my small suitcase (not completely full so there is a little room for purchases), and my laptop in its rolling case. After all, I am going to be gone for 17 days. I continue to rationalize the extra weight and space by the fact that we really aren't moving around much once we get to France.

How are you at making packing decisions? Do you pack for all occasions or just take a chance?


Blogger Jamy said...

It's France, not the moon. If you forget something, you can buy a new one. That is a helpful thought when you are trying to pack light.

I find I can do with many fewer outfits on a trip than in day-to-day life. One suitcase and one carry-on is my limit.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

Having moved all of my life I keep it simple. Up until recently, make-up and toiletries, underwear and a change of clothing in the carry on.(in case of lost luggage). The rest like your friend, but a suit case large enough for bring back goodies. But never for 17 days!

4:40 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

Is there a possiblity you can do laundry while you are over there?

4:47 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I pack enough to get me through a few days: a few pairs of underwear and socks. Some shirts and a pair or pants (or shorts) or two. I could pretty much travel with my knapsack.

Sofia, on the other hand, packs way too much. When we went to Peru, we took 8 large suitcases (2 per person, including my kids), 3 overwieght - for a 2-1/2 week trip for me and 4-1/2 week trip for her and the kids. This included fancy dress for a single night. Had I been in charge of packing, there would have been no more than 2 suitcases.

I always figure that if I suddenly need something, I can buy it wherever I am - aside for very expensive things, this works pretty well. Why carry a month's supply of Aspirin, if I can likely buy it? Or an umbrella?

I typically pack for no more than 3 days, but if I am going for a long time, or expect to be doing a lot, I might bring enough clothes for 5 days. Otherwise, I just bring myself.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy, OL, Richard -- I hear you. OK, so I will go home and take everything out and pack again. I really think I can do this. You are ALL right. I am going to be in a civilized place and I could probably wear the same thing every day and no one would ever notice!

Velvet -- Here is the link to La Maison des Iris, the place where we are staying in Provence. It not only has a washing machine, but it also has a lot of other amenities. We will not be camping in the wilderness, not even one night -- unless we get too bombed on our bike tour of the local vineyards and we just decide to sleep out under the stars!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Have fun! Sounds like a great trip - I did England for 6 weeks on one medium sized suitcase - my hosts suggested I buy needed items from the used clothings sales and return them (cleaned) when I was ready to leave. Thought that was a clever idea tho I didn't have to use it. I followed your friend's idea and packed go-togethers.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Everybody -- I want you to know what a positive effect your comments have had on me. If you notice, not one of you said "Just take whatever you feel like taking." I just put away about half of the clothes and packed other things more sensibly, like socks inside of shoes. I have gone from a total of 4 pieces of luggage to 2 -- a medium size suitcase and my computer in a little carrying case. I'm already thinking about how great it will be not to have many decisions about what to wear. With only one skirt, there are not too many options if I need to dress up. And yes I can buy whatever I absolutely must have. And yes I can wash anything that gets dirty. I may be making progress!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I used to be almost as bad as you were (before you heard all these comments!)but I was sick of bringing back clean,unworn but wrinkled clothes. The colour matching and just one of everything is a good method. I tend to have all my clothes in the same colours I look and feel good in so I have lots of matching ensembles. (Remember when everyone got their colours done? I was a Winter so I usually stick to those colours)

Sounds like you've scaled back and streamlined already! You're going to enjoy this holiday so much! I'm excited for you!

9:45 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- I remember getting my colors done and finding out I was a Spring. I was told NOT to wear black, the color my packed wardrobe centers on. I probably do look better in the bright blue and peach and other spring-like colors, but my current fall wardrobe just doesn't do Spring! I agree with you -- there's nothing worse than having to wash a bunch of wrinkled clothes that were never even worn.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I actually use a spreadsheet with a pivot table to pack for long trips. I figure out bottoms, tops and shoes and whether or not they're interchangeable. Then, I throw in a couple of completely frivolous items.

I've been known to go away for a week with a backpack. (Not a backpacker's bag but an actual school rucksack sort of thing.)

I do agree with the "if you need it, buy it" philosophy. I got a fantastic dress and skirt in a designer shop in Auckland. The dress was stolen in Barbados, but I loved it while it was mine. I still wear the skirt.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Jamy said...

Even when I pack light, I still end up with one thing I don't wear! I hope you are not feeling deprived on the trip. I think it's well worth it to not have to lug around all that luggage.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Johnny said...

I used to be a minimalist.

Now Im a maximalist.

And sometimes being prepared is good.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- You've given me reason to shop! I think it would be fun to need to buy something.

Jamy -- I've bought into less is better.

Johnny -- Where were you yesterday when I needed moral support for packing for all possibilities? It's too late. I've downsized and chosen the minimalist route for this trip. I'll let you know after the fact if indeed you were right and everyone else was wrong!

2:07 PM  

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