I used to pack lightly when I traveled. Although I never verbalized it, I considered this a virtue, a silent testament to non-materialism. Look how good of a person I am. I barely need to take anything with me when I'm gone for a week!
This changed seven years ago. Incidentally, I also became a mother seven years ago. Perhaps there's a connection.
We now travel in the most laden-down fashion possible. To be fair, we do start packing systematically. As I carry the first piece of luggage to the van, I always have high hopes that the entire process will be orderly and calculated. (For the record, each time I fold a fitted sheet I also entertain high hopes that I'll be able to make nice crisp creases instead of rolling it into a billowy pile, but I've never succeeded at this, either. )
With each additional trip between the house and the minivan things deteriorate. Items are tossed into the van with abandon as one of us asks, "Do we need this?" and the other replies, "I don't know. Probably not. Just take it."
Unpacking is even uglier. I've tried two separate methods. One is where I drag everything from the van and drop it in an imposing pile in one room. The other method -- the one I most recently attempted -- is when I carry one bag from the van at a time and put every item away properly before returning to the van for the next bag.
I'm up in the air as to what method is superior. With the first, you can look at your van as it empties and think Now we're making some progress! Then you look at the mountain of stuff in your living room and that bubble bursts.
With the second method, progress initially seems slow. Depending on how randomly you pack, you also could end up traveling to every room in your house just to empty one bag. Not that I've ever packed a bag that contained my kid's toothpaste, a jar of peanut butter, a few loose books, one sock, a stuffed animal, a pair of goggles, and a cell phone charger, of course. I'm just talking hypothetically.
How do you pack for a vacation? Any light travelers out there?