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The mysterious art of packing properly

No matter how many tours, vacations, and adventures I undertake, one thing that constantly eludes me is packing effectively and efficiently. No matter how hard I try, I have yet to be completely satisfied with my choices.

Although I usually opt for a good-sized piece of luggage (lug is the operative word here), which initially appears to have more than enough space, it quickly fills with my carefully selected items. I am constantly impressed by those folks (okay, let’s be honest, women) who always seem to have the perfect outfit for every travel need. But I am more amazed by those brave individuals (again, women) who venture out with only a carry-on in tow and still mange to pull together stylish travel attire. How do they do it? What do they know that I don’t? (And, yes, I’ve googled “effective packing” and, no, it hasn’t helped.)

Weeks leading up to my trip, I religiously check the weather updates. With predictions of rain, in go my waterproof jacket and umbrella. These same items are removed when sunny days are on the horizon. In the end, no matter the forecast, the rain jacket and umbrella go back into my bag. (After all, who can trust those weather reports?)

When travelling to foreign lands there is the desire to fit in with the locals. I never fail to long for my high-top leather boots whenever I’m in Europe. But they occupy far too much space and are not the best option for a full day of walking on cobblestone streets. The same applies to fashionable high-heels when going to a fancy restaurant for dinner or a show. Flats are far more practical, but oh so boring.

Outerwear poses another dilemma since the bulk of these items means less room for other necessities. Heavy jacket or lighter fleece top? Sweater, vest, or wind breaker shell? Then there’s the matter of shorts or sun dress in case the temps decide to climb. Decisions, decisions…

The final choices are not as dire if I am staying in one spot for an extended period of time where laundry facilities are available, but when on tour that is not an option. Instead, a little spray bottle of Febreeze helps to freshen up clothing. The alternative (my preference) is to pack extra clothes because one never knows when a clumsy waiter might spill on a pair of favourite jeans or unexpected sunny days might bring on a bout of heavy perspiration.

As Alexandra Potter observed, “’Just in case’ is the curse of packing.” It is for this very reason that I opt for a carry-on which holds a few items “just in case” my luggage is lost or waylaid. So far in my various travels, this has never happened to me, but I am convinced that my luck will soon run out. I am certain that the first time I travel sans a carry-on case, the inevitable will happen.

I do disagree with Antoine de Saint-Exupiry who mused that one “who would travel happily must travel lightly.” (Sounds like a man’s reasoning to me.) I am more intrigued by Susan Heller’s outlook, who offered, “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

After all, if I do forget something, it’s a wonderful excuse to shop. Plus I will have all that extra room in my suitcase. Now that sounds like a plan.