Love to travel, hate to pack

We’re going away this week which is great. But it’s difficult for me to get excited about a family vacation until I’ve driven away from the house and can’t grab just one more snack, shoe, beauty product, magazine, recharger, etc. etc. etc.

I’m the queen of packing procrastination. I’m writing this blog right now so I don’t have to face my empty suitcase.

I’ve gotten better at it over the years.  My mother used to laugh at me because she could always find me up at one am,  the night before a trip, sitting in a heap of clothes, refolding t-shirts and filling tiny bottles with shampoo and conditioner.

Now I start days in advance, but somehow still never get it done until we’re about to walk out the door. I have a packing list on my computer that I adjust and print out for every adventure. But despite decades of destinations, I’ve never perfected my packing skills because I get overwhelmed by the task of gathering everything we might need, and I hate to commit to clothes ahead of time.

Sure, I’ve read all the women’s magazine articles telling me to choose an outfit a day with a basic color scheme and then add a few versatile pieces. But I hate deciding every ensemble in advance, and as you may know from previous blogs, I live in fear of the “what if,” and need to be prepared.

Wilson is an anxious traveler. He lays the luggage on our bedroom floor a week before we leave, packs three days ahead,  and then disdainfully reminds me of our departure time 5 times a day until we leave.

empty suitcase packing sucks on

Wilson’s suitcase is on the left

My three boys (ages 7, 10, and 13) love to pack because it gives them a sense of independence. Using my printed list as a guide, they quickly lay out clothes on their beds and never think about it again. Their singularly focused male brains never wonder if they brought the right clothes for a change in weather,  or worry about remembering enough underwear.

They just don’t care.

Someone has to care! The pressure of being responsible for everything for everyone on vacation can be paralyzing.  Trying to remember everything we might need during a week away from home keeps me from filling the bags.

It’s amazing how many distractions I can create to dodge my duffel.  Some seem reasonable– like making sure I have the exact same ratio of cheddar Goldfish to pretzels in each child’s snack bag, or finding lost pieces of games we will bring but never play. Others seem irrational, like choosing today to get to the mall to return something  that’s been sitting on a chair since March…or cleaning makeup brushes and recycling magazines.

The last 12 hours before departure are frantic and tense but the luggage gets packed for Wilson to zip up and load into the car. (I can’t bear the finality of zipping.)  We get on the road and about 15 minutes into the ride I finally relax.

The only thing worse than packing for a trip is unpacking when you get home. As if it’s not bad enough that your vacation is over, you are blessed with 5 loads of laundry.

But I’m not going to think about that now. I’ve got much more procrastinating to do.

10 responses to “Love to travel, hate to pack

  1. Love “dodging the duffel” – I know we live parallel lives! I’m always up until 1am packing and doing all the things u mentioned….one time, I refolded my sweaters and stacked them by color! But as we pull away from Brookside, I savor that first sip of coffee…nestle into my co-pilot seat and feel my body start to relax…oh yeah, and even after all that planning,I always seems to forget something! But hey at the point, who really cares?…Have a great time in MV chill’n!! xo K

  2. Hilarious. Could not agree with you more. Unpacking is even worse. I still have an unpacked suitcase from NYC (um, I got back to London over a month ago….)

  3. Brooke, I really think we live parallel lives. Yet another post from you that makes me chuckle. Where are you heading? We leave for LBI tomorrow. Happy Packing and have a great vacation. Now off to find the boys’ crocs and flip flops….

  4. I will be right there with you — next week!

  5. You’re funny Wilson!

  6. Stop writing, start packing.