“That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is- a place to keep your stuff…. Sometimes you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff, when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house. It’s the second version of your stuff.” – George Carlin
George had it right. We all have stuff. Lots of it. At least I know that I do. And, like he said, sometimes we go on a trip. And we need to take some of that stuff.
I’ve had reason to travel lately, and with that comes the challenge of how to consolidate the amount of stuff I invariably want to take with me. Because I always want to take too much. I tend to think that I need a few extra changes of clothes, you know – just in case. In case there’s a change of plans, or the weather shifts, or… who knows. And then there are the pairs of shoes. Yes, I used the plural: pairs. I take sneakers and workout clothes too – again, just in case the opportunity presents itself. Of course there are the other bits and pieces, like magazines, books, my laptop….just in case I have downtime.
I’ve been trying to cut back. Really, I have. I know there are other R.W.’s out there who have similar struggles with the whole packing thing. Yet a few of you have it down to a science. I have one BFF who can literally travel to Europe for two weeks with one tiny bag. It is a mystery to me how she does it, and I know I will never master that level of efficiency. Instead I have set a more obtainable goal. I have a 3-day business trip coming up, which will require travelling by air. My goal is to fit everything I need into a carry-on bag. Sounds like a no brainer, doesn’t it? People do it all the time. Easy, right? Yeah, unless you are me. Usually I prefer to pack my too-much stuff in to a larger bag and check it so I don’t have to schlep it around with me. But in this case, I’m going to go for it in the spirit of simplicity. Well, at least I will try.
When we travel by car, I have much more freedom to over-pack. After all, the only restriction is that everything has to fit in the vehicle. I have gotten really good at filling the trunk of my car, or the back of my husband’s van. I remember as a young girl, sitting entranced at the kitchen table watching the Avon Lady visit with my mom. She had the coolest satchel of products (a place for her stuff) with ingenious little compartments to hold everything. She could fit an amazing amount of fascinating items in that bag. When I’m packing the car, I imagine I’m the Avon Lady. Except instead of lipsticks and compacts, I’m finding space for bags and outerwear and anything else that seems important to bring along.
This weekend we are going camping. Ahhh… images of the simple life fill our heads. Just us, a tent, a campfire… and a whole lotta STUFF. I’ve got bins of cookware, utensils, flashlights, bug spray, and towels. I’ve got a large water container, three sleeping bags, and a couple of blow-up mattresses (there’s only so far I’ll go for “roughing it”.) There’s the cooler for cold food, and bags of other food. And of course the tent and our clothing. There are separate bags of activities and snacks for the car ride. The dog is coming with us, so guess what – he has stuff too. He’s got his own travel bag for food, toys, his leash, poop bags, his water bowl, and treats. I realize the irony that spending two weeks in Europe, even for me, would require less stuff than three days of camping.
George Carlin understood all of our needs to pack so much when we travel. As he said, “even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it, you start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you.”
That’s really the whole point I suppose, of carrying our stuff around with us. It is a matter of comfort and peace of mind. Some of us apparently need more comfort than others.