I am writing this post from a hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. I was honored to be a speaker at a women’s conference here (which concluded today), and tomorrow, Steve and I will travel south to Livingstone to join friends at one of the seven wonders of the world—Victoria Falls! It is so special to have opportunities like this. The only downside is the packing and the 16-hour plane flight required to get here. (I know, I know. Some people will complain about anything.) I can’t do anything about the flight time, but packing is a variable that I do have a little control over.
A while back I wrote about packing—how much I hate it. I also made the statement in that post that, given all the travel I have done in my life, you’d think I’d have packing down to an art. I confessed, however, that was not the case. After writing that statement (you often get little revelations when you write), I realized that I do actually have a trick or two for packing. I’ve just practiced them for so long that I had forgotten that they are actually tricks. Let me share a couple with you.
Over the years, I have forgotten to pack my toothbrush and toothpaste, contact solution, contact case, deodorant, floss, mascara (Oh no! I have no eyes!) and other makeup items, skin care products and the glasses I wear when I take out my contacts at night. Now, mind you, I’ve never forgotten all those things at the same time, but each single forgotten item made my travel experience a little less enjoyable. For those items that were absolutely essential, such as contact solution and contact case, it required a trip to a store after a long day of traveling—and sometimes even after I had dressed for bed—and for those items that I could live without for a few days (such as my glasses), it simply created a small degree of “stress” and detracted from my travel experience. The good thing about forgetting something is that I usually created some system not to forget that particular item again. Following are some of my systems.
I buy travel-size duplicates of all my toiletry items and keep them packed in my suitcase or toiletry bag at all times. I have not gone to the expense of buying an extra pair of glasses, but I keep an eyeglass case in my suitcase so that whenever I open it to begin packing, there is the empty case reminding me to pack the glasses. I also keep the begrudged quart-size ziploc bag (required by the airlines for all liquids and creams) stocked and in my suitcase at all times. When traveling, I make note when one of the items in the ziploc bag is getting low, and I replenish those as soon as I return home (on my first trip to the grocery store), put them in the plastic bag and forget about it. You’d be surprised at the level of stress alleviated in the packing process just knowing that that bag is stocked and ready to go.
Whenever possible, I get the trial sizes of my skin care products so I don’t have to scoop from my regular stock and transfer to some makeshift tiny container to go into the ziploc bag. My preferred line of skin care offers giveaways of some of my products two or three times a year with a purchase of a regular size. I always take advantage of these offers and restock my travel bags in the process.
The last system that I will share is also my newest system, and I have discovered that it, too, greatly reduces the stress of packing (the “stress” that I refer to is that nagging feeling that I am forgetting something). The day (or night) before departure, I pack my toiletry bag with the items that I don’t have in travel sizes—every item of makeup and skin care and hair care that is not already packed in the aforementioned ziploc bag. When I am getting ready the next morning, I pull from that bag. If what I need is not in there, I am painlessly reminded to pack it. This may sound like a troublesome step (having to pull from the toiletry bag even in your own house), but it is much better to discover you forgot to pack something before you leave rather than afterwards. The toiletry bag contains so many small items, it is inevitable that something is left behind unless there is a system in place to prevent that. This is my simple, but very effective system.
Do you have any tips and tricks for packing or for de-stressing the travel experience? I would LOVE to hear them. Please leave me a comment.