My friend, Caroline, is the kind of person who can go on a 10 day trip with just one small suitcase.
I, on the other hand, am unfamiliar with the term “carry-on luggage.”
15 years ago when my husband and I flew to Bermuda for a short vacation (highly recommended to see grown men wearing knee socks with shorts), we arrived at the island airport with three huge suitcases. Two and 3/4 of them filled with my things.
(My husband asked me to tell you that he packs light; that I, not him, am the sole reason for the excess bag charges.)
The man at the airport who helped us with our suitcases directed us to the line for people intending to relocate to Bermuda. To move there permanently. I was embarrassed to tell him we were only visiting for five days. He smiled, sent us to the tourists’ line, having seen my type before.
My theory is that one must pack so as to prepare for all contingencies. This will not come as welcome news to Caroline as we plan to depart this Friday on our long-planned, Road Trip, driving cross-country from Washington, DC to Los Angeles.
I have been invited as a travel companion whose purpose is to provide lively conversation, map management and a guide to interesting restaurants. I have not been invited to do any of the driving. Caroline understands, as do all of my friends, that driving is not one of my better skills.
She has also told me, kindly but firmly, that her Subaru will be filled with furniture and the other items she is bringing to her son who recently moved to L.A. so I must pack lightly.
“We won’t have a lot of room in the car. Remember, I am bringing all of Drew’s stuff to him. You can only bring a small bag.” she reminds me.
Uh, sure, Caroline, I’ll do just that.
But what if we hit an ice storm in Little Rock? or snow in Amarillo? There could be unusually cool weather in Kenab, Utah, too.)
(for those of you geography buffs following along, yes, we are driving well out of our way to visit the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah to volunteer for a day. One of the bonds that Caroline and I share is our love of rescue dogs. One of those probably won’t fit in her car either.)
To accommodate the potential weather variables, I intend to pack an assortment of light to heavy pajamas and sweaters, boots just in case, a fleece or two ,(it could be that cold), short and long-sleeve shirts, pants of varying weights, sandals (it could be that hot) and sneakers, something nice to wear in case we go out, my kindle, various device chargers, magazines, maps (I don’t trust GPS systems) – and of course, my blow-dryer.
Caroline, who does not like to fly, which is the reason we are driving, laughs when I tell her this.
“Seriously, you are packing lightly, aren’t you, Nancy?,” Caroline asks me during a recent planning phone call.
“You won’t need your blow dryer. Your hair will look fine. The people at the gas stations and motels really won’t care what you look like.”
I am trying to be convinced by this but still not sure.
It is not that I am particularly vain. I last got a manicure in May, 2011 before our daughter’s wedding. My daily make-up routine, now that I am no longer office-desk-bound, is minimal. And I am not so wedded to my blow dryer, as close as we once were: I did survive without her (it?) for weeks in the hospital.
But I am the kind of person does not handle change well. I have a need to know what to expect at all times, a character trait which hinders me whenever I travel, because travel reliably delivers change, doesn’t it?
So I fool myself into thinking that a trip will go precisely according to plan if I bring most, if not all, of my favorite possessions with me. To trick the system into thinking I am at home – while on the road.
Taking a break from packing, I read an article in the New York Times about an empty nester couple’s year-long, 46 city tour of Europe. From the photos, I could see that both traveled light, back-packs and one small pull bag each.
(And not to be at all catty about this, but from the look of the wife’s hair, she seems to manage without a blow dryer. Her hair looks naturally curly, mine is that flattish kind of stick straight that we all admired in 1970 but not so much anymore.)
Even though this couple had minimal luggage, I was heartened to read that even these adventurous travelers brought their personal pillows with them to each city they visited.