Are You Sure You Need to Pack That?

I think back to how I used to pack for a two week vacation to Europe and I cringe. Since I usually took those silly escorted tours (because I figured I couldn’t possibility get by in any country where I didn’t speak the language) I was always allowed one suitcase while on the bus. I made sure it was the largest suitcase I had since I couldn’t fathom wearing the same clothes twice or even in not having on clean underwear every day.

What a fool I was. Now I wouldn’t dream of packing half of the things I used to pack. Gone is the need to have a pair of sandals and sneakers and bedroom slippers and a cute evening shoe. I have one pair of hiking sandals that are my bedroom slippers, my sandals and my sneaker all in one. They are also my cute evening shoe. Magically four pairs of shoes became one functional pair and because I’m wearing them my suitcase weighs less.

I used to pack a pair of pants that I would wear for 4 days. Then I packed a shirt to go with those pants knowing that I wouldn’t wear the shirt more than twice so that was two shirts for every pair of pants. For a 14 day trip that is a lot of clothing, but I wasn’t done!

I needed a new pair of socks and underwear for every single day that I was on the trip. I needed a sweater in case it got cold; a couple of casual dresses in case it was so hot that pants just would be too heavy to wear and of course a couple of dressy dresses for those nights when formal wear was expected.

Now as many women know I haven’t even begun to mention that I still had to pack cosmetics, jewelry to go with each outfit; personal hygiene products; lotions, potions and puffs. Maybe I would even pack nylons; or maybe special bras to go with certain outfits and…wow, really, what was I thinking?

Today when Mike and I travel for a week we carry a moderate sized backpack. We have one change of clothes; a couple of spare underwear; one pair of socks and a rain or all weather jacket. We carry a toothbrush but all toiletries we buy where we are going so that we don’t have to carry heavy items. Everywhere in the world sells body wash, toothpaste, mouthwash and shampoo, even airline travel size. There is no reason to cart those items in a suitcase or a pack.

For a two week trip we might use one suitcase for the two of us and we still have room left over in the suitcase. Could you and your significant other share one suitcase for a two week trip? If not, you are both packing too much.

Perhaps this is an instance of with age comes wisdom because more than 30 years after I began to travel the world I certainly would never pack for a two week vacation the way I used too. I know now that my vacations are not about what I’m wearing; they are not about my having a different outfit to wear every day and they certainly aren’t about me having cute shoes to wear with my outfits. Vacations are not meant to impress the other travelers around me. No one remembers what someone was wearing when they had their picture taken in front of Iguassu Falls or Machu Picchu or San Juan del Sur, or…   Vacations are about whom I’m getting to meet; what I’m getting to see and where I’m going, and the only thing I really have to pack now is my camera.

Florence Lince






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