Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Packing Isn't for Sissies

There comes a moment in every traveler’s life when you are forced to play a high-stakes game of Tetris with a pile of clothing and two suitcases. Now, if you’re in the midst of packing for a week-long trip to the Caribbean, you’ll probably be okay as long as you remember your bathing suit and a pair of sandals. But when you’re in the midst of moving to another country and you find yourself suddenly forced to choose between leaving behind your favorite pair of blue jeans or the old hiking boots that once saved your life in the slippery Scottish highlands, packing becomes a new form of torture.

As the suitcases fill up all too quickly you find yourself asking questions like, “Do I really need a winter jacket? I mean, come on, how cold can it get in the Alps?” and “Would it be so bad if I only brought one pair of pants? Do I need pants at all?”

 Of course, the frustration of trying to shoehorn everything into those little rolling bags is nothing compared to the pain of the dreaded 50lb weight limit. There is nothing worse than finally making everything fit only to discover that your bag is five pounds overweight… and the only solution for those of us who don’t have the money or the inclination to pay even more to check our bags, is to haul it all out and start over again (this time sans a few pairs of shoes and that paperweight that held so much sentimental value you couldn’t live without it just five minutes earlier).

By this time, of course, you’re sweating profusely. The sweat is caused in part by physical exertion and in part by the fact that you are freaking out… and the longer this goes on, the crazier you will get. Soon, as you try desperately to shove that picture of your grandma in between your socks and your deodorant, you will start to wonder why you ever wanted to travel in the first place. After all, who in their right mind makes the voluntary decision to exchange a perfectly good life filled with friends and family for a stint in a foreign country where you don’t know a soul (or even speak the language)?

“I’ve really lost it this time,” you think, even as you squeeze the air out of those space-saver bags and cram another sweater into an empty corner. “I’ve lost my mind and it’s never coming back.” In goes another picture and a tube of toothpaste. “What was I thinking?!”

But never fear, my travel-minded friends, because as soon as that last zipper is zipped, it will all come flooding back to the you: the energy of the airport, the excitement of landing in a city where no one knows your name, the exhaustion of jetlag, the fear of the unknown, the smell of somewhere you’ve never been before, the sound of a language that isn’t your own… And you will remember that, sometimes, the beauty of travel is the chaos.

Sending Much Love,



  1. Bravo to the poor sap who had to weigh the bags to make sure you weren't over the 50# limit.

  2. Viel Glück Billy, wir werden dich vermissen!

  3. Thanks, Dad!! I'm going to miss you too :) And I appreciate the fact that you helped me weigh my ENORMOUS bags :)

  4. Beautifully and witfully written! And as the world's slowest packer who deeply understands the diligence required by the task, I feel your pain and sympathize. :)

  5. Safe travels! Good Luck packing! :)

  6. God-speed my beautiful daughter!
    Love you always and forever!

  7. Glad to hear that you have arrived. Can't wait to hear what lies ahead for you! I admit I am jealous that I never did what you are doing. I am so proud you that you leap joyously, throw caution to the wind, and marvel in the chaos: and that is what makes it so great---that adrenalin rush, that feeling of holy cow what did I do??? Jump into it screaming and you'll come out smiling :-) Love, Aunt Julie