I loathe packing. In an ideal world, I would have bags prepacked with everything that I would need. None of the leaving of toothbrushes and cell phone chargers would matter. And, of course, the daunting task of gathering the right shirt, pants, jacket, shoes and accessories in order for me to be prepared for a multitude of wardrobe needs and fitting it all into a 22" x 14" x 9" box.
I don't want to be too casual but not too overdressed. Will I be wearing the same thing all day? Will I really exercise if I bring my tennis shoes? What if it's too cold/hot in the conference rooms? What if I accidentally fall into a large body of water and am stuck with clothes that I will not be able to wear for the rest of the week?
At first, I just said, "Well, I can get reimbursed for checking my bags, so I might as well pack what I want." Then, I sort of felt like I should be a good steward of the limited funds we have for our program. I know, if I really wanted to, I can pack everything I need into a carry-on bag.
It ended up feeling a lot like what I went through during the cleanse. A lot of very intentional decision-making and taking the time in advance to prepare. And being honest with myself.
So I pulled out of my closet everything I thought I wanted to wear and tried on a variety of outfits. This is a little embarrassing but I even made a Monday-Sunday list with what I would wear each day. But it really helped to see that I don't really need to bring 25 shirts for 7 days.
Yes, I am neurotic.
The being honest with myself part was always the hardest part. I decided not to bring any accessories and only one book. I haven't done any leisurely reading in a long time, so why is it that every time I travel I'm convinced I will have time or even want to read two novels, three magazines, write letters to old friends and journal?
As with the cleanse, I've realized how many old habits I had that weren't good for me. My tendency to over pack developed from my laziness to plan clearly and effectively, from procrastination and last-minute packing, my desire to over-indulge and pack more than enough and my worries about unforeseen but potentially detrimental circumstances that never actually occur.
I can't believe this day has come. From someone who had bags weighing over 100lbs on my trip back from London and a daily grandma purse full of snacks, Tide to-go, hand sanitizer, emergency eye liner and cough drops, I have managed to carefully pack for my week away into just this:
I don't even need to sit on it to make it zip.
And in the plaid bag, I've packed 7 Lara Bars, lots of caffeine free tea, a bag of mixed nuts and a bag of dry cereal. No need to spend $5 on a bag of Chex Mix at the airport!