Monday, July 2, 2012

On Packing Lightly (and other things I no longer do)

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."

It's ugly.

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?

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10 comments:

  1. Robin, just a note to let you know that your blog makes me smile! (and I'm with you on the lack of success of folding fitted sheets...)

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  2. TheMomChefJuly 02, 2012

    My mother-in-law and her 5 sisters used to have a family reunion every year. One year it included a fitted sheet-folding competition. I didn't bother competing.


    We make the 800-mile trek to my parents' house by car once a year. We use snow shovels to get everything in and out. It all gets dumped on our bed, which requires my husband to help if he wants to go to bed that night. Many hands, light work, all that kind of thing.

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  3. Steph at The Healthy MomJuly 02, 2012

    I am NOT a light packer because I'm the one who also has to pack my kids. My husband, on the other hand, is another story. He packs as little as possible because he DOESN'T have the kids to pack for. I have to say, the unpacking is definitely the worst part. Not only are you dealing with dirty laundry, but the vacation is over. That's a bummer in and of itself.

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  4. Steph at The Healthy MomJuly 02, 2012

    I am NOT a light packer because I'm the one who also has to pack my kids. My husband, on the other hand, is another story. He packs as little as possible because he DOESN'T have the kids to pack for. I have to say, the unpacking is definitely the worst part. Not only are you dealing with dirty laundry, but the vacation is over. That's a bummer in and of itself.

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  5. Steph at The Healthy MomJuly 02, 2012

    oops... sorry for the double post.

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  6. My hubby travels all the time for his job, so he is an expert, last minute, light packer. I am the packer who makes a list days in advance, goes to buy all the travel sizes, and over-pack "just in case." If my girls and I were to take a vacation with you and your girls, we might need to rent a moving truck!!! :)

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  7. I can only imagine if our families collided and vacationed together. Moving truck? Perhaps a tractor trailer. ;)

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  8. Yes, in and of itself, packing for kids is an exercise in excess. Unless you forget all their toothbrushes, toothpaste, and hair brushes, as I just did. (Actually, I *still* packed too much even with this forgetfulness!)

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  9. A sheet folding competition? I wouldn't be able to compete, either.

    Your description of the unpacking process is hilarious!

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  10. Awww thanks, Jennifer! We will stand united in the inability to fold fitted sheets, then.

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