“How does she do that?” I ask myself as I put all of my (considerable) weight into holding the suitcase closed as I zip, buckle and tie it into submission. She has one roll aboard bag, neatly packed with several outfits (for any weather condition), matching shoes, toiletries, and room left over to bring back some souvenirs. Meanwhile, I find myself manhandling a suitcase the size of a Volkswagen. How does she do it? She’s a tour guide, and I have a sneaking suspicion she went to Hogwarts.
Preparation, in my mind, has long been defined as being ready for any probable, possible, or potential problem (I’ve been working on my alliteration), hence I do lists. Actually, I do lists of lists; restaurants, entertainment, sightseeing, things to buy, and of course the packing list. My packing list generally includes clothing for various venues such as restaurants and shows, so dress shoes (size 11), button down shirt (size XL) sport jacket, and slacks (all multiplied by 3). I also pack leisure wear such as shorts, jeans, bathing suit, t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, several hats, sandals and top siders. Then there’s the i-pad, maybe some books (and/or a kindle), and my toiletries, which include various electric razors and/or clippers, shaving cream and tooth brush. My suitcase includes a suiter. My carry-on bag contains some extra clothes in case my suitcase ends up in Ontario while I end up in Orlando. Maybe I should hire a moving company.
Granted, I am not the worst over packer I’ve seen. Years ago a friend was visiting with us at the beach. We took a car to pick her up at the train. After we’d wrestled into the car a suitcase that could have its own zip code, I ended up having to walk back to the hotel (glad I had the topsiders). The car wasn’t big enough for all of us. It was either the suitcase or me…the suitcase won.
Why is it that some of us over pack, while the experienced tour guide/director packs just right? I am learning that it comes down to two things (not including the magic wand): 1) planning, 2) prioritizing.
Planning: Chances are I won’t need all of those extra clothes, how many sport jackets did I really need on my last trip? If there is available laundry my clothes can be washed and then worn again, after all I’ll never see most of those people again. Prioritizing: I should take what I need and leave the rest at home (that includes the teddy bear and my lucky slinky). Some things can have multiple uses, light weight golf pants can double as khaki slacks, one Kindle can carry 1000 books, and some shirts can be dressed up or dressed down. Some clothing is resistant to wrinkles and can be folded small, some shoes can be worn to dinner and a show or coffee and a stroll, and some things just aren’t necessary on a trip.
The actor Robert Powell had the right advice: “When you get back from a trip, make a note of what you didn't wear. This will avoid packing it unnecessarily next time”.
My clothes take up more space than my wife’s, because I take up more space than my wife. While I may need a bigger bag, I am finding that less really is more. If I opt for the carry-on rather the Volkswagen I no longer have to wait at the baggage carousel or pay baggage fees. Packing and unpacking is a breeze if I just pack what I need, and my chiropractor bills go down considerably.
So I married a tour guide, and I used to have a lot of baggage.