A SHORT GUIDE TO PACKING FOR LONGISH TRIPS
Right now we’re at the most irrationally difficult part of preparing for our next big trip, that is to say, having to pack for the goddamn thing.
In twelve days we’re flying across the country to spend some time in la Belle Province, aka Montréal, Québec.
Maybe a year, maybe more, maybe less. And how do you pack for such a trip?
How do you pack for any trip?
I’m the more… level-headed? Foresightful? OCD? Of the two, so I sweat over the tetris-ness of having to pack as much stuff in as little space, as lightly as possible. My fellow kitten-princess tries to stuff her altar silks into crevices between a fur coat, a ziplock full of lighters and full length velvet dresses and often, sadly, ends up in tears at the implausibility of doing so.
But let’s be real - we need our stack of hard drives, gems to adorn our faces with on lazy Sunday mornings, heeled jelly shoes, fifteen thousand pens and notebooks.
What are you without your passions? Your favourite whatever that you cannot imagine not dragging with you around the world?
Let me share some key takeaways that I've learned after having packed for trips spanning a couple days, a couple weeks, to over a year…
1. Take out half of what you first pack.
Pack once, then take out and donate/put into storage at least half of it because you’re not going to need/use it all. This may seem crazy, but unless you're already an expert packer, it's very difficult to have the foresight necessary to know what you'll need on any given trip. The only thing that is certain is that carrying around heavy baggage (physical or emotional), is unenjoyable after the first five minutes.
Especially when you end up only using something once (like, thank God I had a combination lock for that one random yoga studio I went to that didn’t supply their own!) and consequently won’t have room to buy anything, or will be forced to ship stuff home at astronomical rates.
Rule of thumb: If you haven't used or worn it in the past month you're not going to miss it if you leave it at home.
2. Pack with your heart.
When you’re packing, pack with your heart. Deep down you know, truly, truly, truly, know if you actually need something.
Not the “I might…” or, “what if…” stuff. You don’t need that stuff when you’re travelling/moving somewhere new, because you're going to want to replace those sorts of things (the half-filled notebooks, the photographs, the poetry book, the full-length velvet dress) with their exotic equivalent to make new moments with.
3. Passport? Credit card? Health insurance? You're good to go.
All you really need to be able to go anywhere, ever, on this planet is a passport, a credit card and health insurance. If you have those three things, the world is your oyster, kitty cat.
There is nothing you cannot buy, substitute or do without on this earth. And if there is, perhaps take a moment to meditate on why and how you’ve become so attached to the material world.
4. Experience the end-game of having to live with the consequence of your packing choices.
To supplement the above three points, once you’ve packed, put your backpack on and walk around the house for half an hour. Up and down the stairs, manoeuvring through doorways. And then seriously think about if you want to be lugging that weight around when you’re trying to catch a flight.
Like when buying a new pair of heels, if you really want to know if they’re going to hurt and be unwearable on a night out, you have to walk around in them for more than a couple minutes. If you’ve got a rolling suitcase, do the same thing… but maybe try it out in the city on cobblestone and in busy places where you have to navigate a trillion people who give zero fucks about you and the small elephant you’re dragging behind you.
I remember being reduced to a puddle of tears during my first week of the year I spent in France trying to run through a train station with a 50 pound backpack on so I didn’t miss the only train they had that day to the Côte d’Azur… I didn't miss it, but I ended up donating about half of my clothes to a shelter because I couldn't handle the weight!
Where's your next trip?
Ok, so that's the more harsh, Moralizing Melanie in me coming out like your parents did when you were a teenager, trying to convince you, beg you, not to drink under age. Citing all the horror stories of how person A and B and C all died from drinking too much fireball when they were 15 'cause they thought they were invincible! You’re going to go out and do whatever the fuck you want anyways. But hey, I gotta at least tell you how my experience has been.
On the more easy-breezy side, packing can be a fun and liberating process where you get to sort through all your stuff and make piles to donate, recycle, toss and repair.
Minimalism feels amazing when you take off knowing that you’re not leaving piles of garbage in your parent’s basement, or having to pay for a bigger storage locker because you couldn’t get rid of the nine thousand pairs of shoes you own.
And with that, what's your packing philosophy, kittens? We’d love to hear what guides your packing, and if you agree or disagree with ours. Comment below.
See ya on the East Coast!