Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Gotta pack!

I've been on many business trips (I once racked up 90,000 frequent flier miles in 6 months) so you'd think I'd be an expert at packing for a trip. I am good at the spatial aspects of packing but the whole thing stresses me out! My husband can attest to what a basket case I am before a trip. I really don't know why this is. I can't recall any problems I've had with what I've packed - except the time my cat used my suitcase as a litter box the night before my trip and I didn't realize it until I pulled out a white...um...now yellow shirt out of the suitcase in the hotel room. Thank goodness the hotel had a washing machine. It wasn't the cat's fault - the lid on her litter box got turned around and she couldn't get in it. The suitcase, which was about the same size and was filled with soft material, seemed like a good substitute to her I guess. However I now make sure the suitcase lid is closed before I go to bed. Just in case. Anyway, back to the subject of packing.

I see the problems as basically two things:

1. What to take
2. Packing it

My biggest problem is deciding what clothing to take. Despite a closet full of clothes I have difficulty every day deciding what to wear. I recently did go through my closet and I removed things that were outdated or that I haven't worn in a long time and probably won't. I donated the items that are in good condition and recycled the ones that weren't. Having only wearable clothes in my closet does help in the morning. Hopefully it will help me decide what to take this time. I think this time I may use a checklist to help guide me. Couldn't hurt.

Packing the clothes is not too big of a problem. I use a hanging toiletry bag for my toiletries. This helps to keep everything in one place. I leave (non-perishable) travel-sized items in the bag in between trips so most of the time I only need to add my makeup and a few other items. For my clothes I found that packing items into stuff sacks works really well. Socks in one, underwear in another, and the rest of the clothes in various other sized sacks or travel packs designed for this purpose. The stuff sacks make it really easy to pack and I don't have to dig through the suitcase for a pair of socks. I also bring a sack for dirty clothes.

I've also learned that one thing that stresses me when I'm packing is that I'll think about something else I need to do or pack and I'll stop what I'm doing, go off and do that and end up scattered...and stressed. I've learned now to divide my packing into zones and stick to them. I don't move on until I've finished that task. In no particular order, I do the following:

* gather and pack main suitcase
- toiletries
- underwear
- main clothes
- accessories and jewelry
- shoes

* clean out handbag and wallet of excess junk

* gather and pack stuff for in-flight entertainment
- book
- knitting
- iPod
- snacks/water

* gather and pack business-related stuff (if business trip)

* gather and pack gifts for relatives and friends (if pleasure trip)

* gather and pack essential travel stuff
- passport
- tickets
- itinerary
- phone numbers

* gather and pack extra travel stuff
- guide books
- camera
- hat/gloves/umbrella/raincoat as needed

* address anything that needs to be done in the house
- adjust shades
- check/set light timers
- lock windows and doors
- water plants
- empty trash

I'm getting a tiny bit stressed just thinking about it. But I have found that sticking to my zone-packing helps.

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