How To Pack When You Love Stuff

I have never been accused of not packing enough stuff whenever I go anywhere. There is no place where I like to sleep more than in my own bed, even though hotel beds can be quite nice. Since it would be beyond extreme to pack up my bed and take it with me wherever I go, I at least need to bring my own pillow (except on very long trips in which lugging a pillow is just a hassle).

As someone who likes the comfort of her own belongings, I have learned over the years how to, at the very least, be an organized packer. On my first move-in day in college, my parents and siblings didn’t know how much stuff I had actually brought with me until they were helping to unpack it all in my very small dorm room. Over the years, I did learn the difference between seasons and what I needed immediately and what could wait, but I can’t say my belongings diminished in any dramatic fashion.

My trip to LA to visit my friend Brad has thus far been an annual adventure I look forward to each year. It didn’t take long to realize that lugging a large suitcase and a good-sized Vera Bradley bag around was not easy. This year, I was able to fit so much clothing, toiletries, and reading and writing materials between two small carry-ons and still had ample leg room. To be fair, I have short legs.

When I went to New Hampshire last week, I didn’t give myself enough time to pack and so I wasn’t as organized as I would have liked. Knowing there was a possibility that I could stay the whole week or head home with my parents after the first couple of days, I knew I needed to be strategic in my packing, but it was getting late and I had an early wake-up time. In this case, it was very handy that I am a heavy packer because I had enough clean underwear to get me through the week.

However, going through shirts and shorts and throwing them into a bag with sneakers, a sweatshirt, and a towel is not an effective strategy. I ended up having to take a backpack on top of that to fit my reading and writing material, toiletries, and other items that could not be squeezed into the bag. This would have been fine if we didn’t have to fit the dog and all of his things along with us because apparently he too is a heavy packer who doesn’t like to be separated from this things.

During the week, I didn’t have my usual organized method of well-matched and well-planned outfits as I usually do on vacation. I ended up having to wear nice shorts and a fairly nice shirt to an amusement park in which I went on a water ride and was drenched in the first five minutes.

I learned my lesson and when my parents headed home, I gave them my backpack and any possible item I didn’t need for the duration of the trip as I would be squeezing into whoever’s car would take and fit me and my bulging bag.

The morning of our trip home, I laid out all of my clothes on the bed and carefully folded and rolled them into compact bundles. Rolling clothes helps to fit items into the smallest of crevices, helping one to utilize space much easier than simply folding and tucking them on top of each other. I had only sent a few things home with my parents, so the fact that I was able to fit in most of what I had brought with me was impressive, including the sweatshirt, sneakers, towel, and toiletry bag.

Caitlin’s Royal Advice for Packing for Anything:

1. Layout shirts and shorts (or any necessary bottoms) on your bed to make sure that you are going to like what you are going to wear, that such outfits are appropriate for where you are going, and to make sure you have enough for the duration of the trip

2. Choose as many pairs of underwear as days you will be going on the trip, then double it because you never know. Especially if you are being in anyway active, you don’t want to have to wear the same underwear you went hiking up a large mountain to a nice dinner hours later.

Note: Same goes for socks because you will probably be doing a lot of walking and I’ve never gone somewhere (even the laundry room) with the same amount of socks as I had when I first arrived

3. Roll, don’t fold (it kind of rhymes, so therefore it’s kind of catchy).

4. Place the bigger rolls on the bottom, such as bottoms, towels, and sweatshirts. Then move up and over according to size, therefore socks will either be on top, or most likely squished in-between free air spaces.

5. Don’t forget your toothbrush, contact case, contact solution, or any medications you will need. Yes, you can probably buy many of these things at a convenience store, but you never know. To keep these organized, get a small toiletry bag and bring only what you will absolutely use. This method proves convenient when you wake up in the middle of the night from an allergy attack and need an allergy pill. Stumbling around in the dark only makes things worse because people don’t like to be woken up.

6. If you are not a hoarder in real life, do not be a hoarder on vacation. Over the years I have learned the difference between reality and allusion. Being mindful of what you really use will help be more productive and efficient in anything. For example, I have a ton of make up and usually only apply five things, the same coverup, blush, eye shadow, mascara, and lip gloss except for special occasions. Therefore, I only bring that amount of make-up.

Note: In college, and now for that matter, I own a lot of crap. I won’t deny that. But I also have it very organized and I mostly know where everything is. I also am someone who has a tendency to hold onto material things for sentimental value. Just be aware of what you use in real life and what you think you want to use because when traveling especially, this can make all the difference with how far along that zipper zips.

Packing in such a way seems a little obvious, but I said I’d write it up and so I did it. Just before midnight, but hey, it got done. Putting even a tad bit of care into this process at least helps you to pay attention to what you have, which will make you more noticeable of what you may have forgotten, hopefully before you leave for that trip.

In relation to this, I wanted to discuss how I get my exercise in during vacation. From experience, I have realized that I often think I’ll have formal workouts more often than I do. During my regular life, I am proud of the fact that I can say I workout on more days than I don’t. It helps to plan breaks from the gym and extended time to rest your body around vacation. However, it never hurts to get something in.

When traveling, I’ll often bring a jump rope (that may or may not get used but at least fits well inside a suitcase), sneakers, and headphones. Sneakers and headphones enables you to do the most effective form of exercise ever, running or walking. It can be fun to explore a new part of a world. The best, most fulfilling run I have ever had was on Redondo Beach looking up to see the mountains and looking out into the ocean. I have never felt more at peace with the world than in that moment and that is something that would not have been achieved without running.

Much of the time just being on vacation allows you to get different, natural forms of exercise in. My best advice here is not to worry so much. Forgive yourself a bit. Also, like I said on the latest edition of Workout Wednesday, the sooner you jump back into your exercise routine on return from vacation, the better.

Vacation is all about relaxing and being refreshed. Exercise can aid in this, but not if you’re stressed about it. Find a happy medium, accept it, and don’t second guess it.

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