black / girl / abroad

On packing


Courtesy dan at

I used to think you could pack in less than 48 hours and be fine. Friends of mine did it all the time — or even within the last 12 hours, they’d just go “Oh, it’s no biggie, just throw your shit in a bag, roll everything up, I travel light, it’s easy!”

But it’s never easy! I try to travel light but there are things you need to bring for this or that. I absolutely HATE being somewhere unfamiliar (or even familiar) irritated that the thing I had at home and meant to bring will now cost me $7 at the airport or $10 at CVS. I don’t like having to take time to figure out how to go get the thing, or make do without it somehow. Vacations are not for fretting about shit you shoulda brought.

But the habit, in the beginning, was me thinking I should pack like everyone else seemed to — maybe throw a suitcase out the day before, but do the real packing the night before the flight.  And I’d usually pull it together somehow within that timeframe, but what would happen is I’d stress out the whole 1-2 weeks prior knowing I’d have to make time to pack and bring xyz things on a mental list; then the night of, pack in a craze, barely sleep, and then get up at 3 am or 5 am. Rush to the airport, and on the way here, and all the way through boarding — fretting about what I might have forgotten.

Then one day, about two weeks before a trip, I was in the fretting stage, thinking about all the things I’d have to evaluate for packing and it was weighing on my mind. So I jumped off the couch in a huff and went and got the suitcase and threw it on the guest room couch. I was fed up with stressing and worrying and wanted to DO something. So I threw like, a purse I knew I wanted to bring and socks. Then I shut the door and walked away and went back to doing whatever I’d been doing.

It was amazeballs. I felt SO much better! So I’ve kept this habit up, and I realize — it allows me to pack and prepare at a leisurely pace that allows plenty of time for last minute “Oh shit, I forgot to get <thing>,” so I have at least a couple days to go pick up things I’ve forgotten to restock in advance of my trip. I feel that I have so much time, I can be thoughtful about it … hang up a bunch of outfits over the course of a few days, then come back and take a couple away, add a couple more, until I am ready to put the whole puzzle together.

I’m not necessarily saying this is THE way — but even after years of travelling, this method has decreased the stress involved in planning for a trip as minimal as possible for me, and I wuv it. I’ve moved down to about a 7 day window — the suitcase usually comes out and then here and there throughout the days as I think of it, I toss a few things in. Especially when you live a busy schedule and don’t have large chunks of time where you brain is at its freshest (like after a long work day), this can be a useful way to be efficient with your time while removing the urgency factor and risking yourself forgetting something you need.

Like that bag of foam earplugs you always bring to block out babies screaming on the airplane or a sleep mask for those venues that somehow think it’s charmingly minimalist to put one set of sheer drapes over their floor to ceiling windows.

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