The Joy of Packing

Packing for New ZealandI am leaving on a trip to Istanbul tomorrow and that means I am surrounded by lists. There is a packing list, a list of things to do in Istanbul, a list of things to remember about my presentation, a list of subsidiary reminders for the packing list, a list of things to buy in Istanbul, and a list of things to do in the morning before leaving.

Of all these lists, my favorite is the packing list.

I am standing in front of my bed now, considering the notepad in my hand like a foreman in front of an assembly line. The bed is covered in neat piles of systematically arranged clothing. There are notebooks, gadgets, and pens. There are medicines, products, and body tools. I am looking through the list, comparing it to the objects and devises on the bed and doing my favorite activity: ticking things off.

I sit in my armchair and gaze at the organization in wide-eyed wonder. I am in Heaven.

I have always loved packing. For one thing, packing means lists and, as we’ve seen, I love those more than bacon. But packing means preparation and like most obsessive people, I love preparing for things. Sometimes it’s more fun than the act I am preparing for.

It is no secret that men and women pack differently. Men typically consider packing to be a simple affair. You grab some socks, a sweater, your wallet, and a toothbrush and you’re fine. If you need anything while travelling you can always buy it while you’re on the road. Sometimes a guy is happy to forget something because it means being “forced into” buying a new toy.

Women usually take the opposite approach. They set aside enough clothing, accessories, and assorted bits to sustain them on their journey and they cover it with aluminum foil. Then they gather every other single object they own and stuff it all into two gigantic and annoying coffin-sized trunks that they will roll around behind them through the airport.

I hate these trunks. Hate.

In my opinion these enormous trunks are used by people who don’t know how to pack. Adding insult to injury and fuel to the fire of my hatred for them is the fact that no fewer than four of these behemoths have been run over my toes. I would rather have a threesome with Michael Bay and Bjork than employ one of these things. That’s right, I went there.

To pack effectively, you must first make a giant list of things you’d like to bring. We’ll call this the brainstorming session, as you do not judge any of your list items yet and you add things with a devil may care, James Dean approach. When you have written that list, you need to take some time away from it, the intensity of creating a good opening list usually takes it out of me. So you should go for a walk or watch a little television. During this time you might giggle at some of the zany list items you have added.

You then need a first draft, so you want to start organizing your list. This means you subdivide them into sub-lists such as: toiletries, footwear, outer clothing, prophylactics, etc. when you have done that, you will see that you have everything you need on this list. However, you will also see that your brainstorming list was as foolishly improbable as stuffing the Mississippi into a water glass.

This is when you buckle down and get to your second draft, the editing phase. As hard it may sound, you have to cut everything that doesn’t fit into the list. And I say this is 50% of your items. It sounds extreme, but to make an effective and efficient list, you need to trim the fat and leave a lean piece of work. Consider cutting things you suspect you won’t use, like running shoes or toothpaste.

When you have finally cut 50% of your list, you will have a little free space so you should make sure you have standard travel needs. In my opinion, this is one pair of socks and underwear for each day you are away and one extra in case of accidents. You can also add a few items that are always good to have one a trip. This includes plastic bags, handkerchiefs, three pens, two pencils, four condoms, and a pizza cutter. Because, folks, you never know.

With your packing finished, you can focus all of your energy on enjoying your trip. And, more importantly, you can start looking forward to unpacking!

  1. #1 by MaKo on April 3, 2014 - 2:23 pm

    Only four condoms? Seems risky to me…

  2. #2 by greg galeone on April 4, 2014 - 5:41 am

    This reminds me of the classic George Carlin monologue about taking your “stuff” on a trip. Good read Damo.

  3. #3 by Hokey Pokey Trainer on April 6, 2014 - 11:53 am

    I have to give you a heartfelt thank you here, because I have googled “how to pack lightly” so many times, but nowhere have I found an instruction on how to make pre-lists as beautiful as this one.

    No more rolling over fellow travellers’ toes with my behemoth!

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