Packing For A Trip As A Chronic Over Packer: The Expectation Vs The Reality Of Your Planned Vacation Outfits
We all know this scene way too well: It's you, sitting criss-cross applesauce on the floor, your head buried in your hands, your hair frazzled, and your suitcase unzipped and empty at your knee. Packing for a trip is no joke, and the majority of us either need a quick pep talk with the mirror or a smear of war paint in the shape of a bear claw before heading in to tackle the task. There's just so much pressure! And the clothes? Oh yes, and the clothes strewn about all around you like casualties in a war, crumpled, discarded and vetoed over and over as you try to decide just what to pack for this friggen trip.
The things you pack will play a role in the adventures and daydream-like scenes you'll experience in the next couple of weeks. What dress will you wear as you walk down the white stairs in the hill-sitting towns in Greece; how will it look as the wind catches its hem and you face towards all that pretty blue water? What sandals will you slip into as you make your way down the maze of side streets in Rome, determined to find the gelato the kind woman at the market whispered to you about like a well-kept secret. Or do you think you'll button on that sweater or pull over that knit as we make our way across the busy Austrian streets, determined to have some open faced sandwiches and tea before we continue our afternoon of museums and book stores?
The clothes we put on will help narrate our story, and we want to make sure the words are pretty. But in the end, we might be overdoing it just a tad. And I know this from firsthand experience. You see, I'm heading to Vietnam tomorrow (insert excited squeak here), and during the months following up to this moment I was convinced that my packing for a trip checklist was going to consist of four Hanes tees, one pair of baggy shorts, and a handful of underwear. But now that the backpack is out and it's time to fill all 60 gallons of it, I'm finding myself reaching for pieces I have no business reaching for.
A lace maxi dress that'll look like an old beach towel after one wash by one of the village women? Perfect. Toss her in. A thick denim pinafore for the 100-degree weather? Can't think of anything better. I love passing out with heat stroke. Hey, how about these shoes that'll probably give me blisters after a few hours of walking? I've got the room for 'em, sure, haul them over.
When packing, we tend to think we need all of these pieces and that our trip will just fold in on itself if we don't have at least seven different sandals to choose from. But that's never the case. Usually what is the case is that you toss something over your head after you've thrown your hair into a ponytail, and you rush out of the hostel door to go adventure, get sunburnt, and get more than a little dazzled.
So to curb our crazy over-packing tendencies, let's look at some scenes and outfits that are broken into the expectation of the traveler and the reality of the situation. Let's hope this will inspire us to shave off a couple of kilos from our bursting backpacks... no promises, though.
Scenario 1: Poking Around Ancient Temples Like You're Indiana Jones
The expectation: Oh, why don't I put on this cute mini sundress for the afternoon? It's got happy little sunflowers and it'll look great as I stand next to all the headless 100-year-old statues and poke around rooms with chipping frescoes and smooth marble. I can just imagine the pictures now.
The reality: I'm now 90 percent sure the kid climbing the stairs behind me has a front row show of my briefs. So that's fun. Thank god I didn't wear the ones that have a tendency to, er, ride up. Oh god, is that another flight of stairs? Why is this hem so short. Is there a gift store where I can buy shorts? Probably not since this is a piece of world history and not the friggen Mall of America. God, did I just hear him snicker?
I pull at the hem of my dress, throwing the little boy behind me a withering look.
Scenario 2: Exploring The Busy City Streets
The expectation: I'll just slip these jeans on, put on these new pair of metallic sandals, and be on my happy way. Now, let's make a solemn vow with ourselves that we will stop at every, and I mean every, bakery we come across. There's just so much marzipan to nibble on and so little time. We mustn't waste the opportunity.
I leave all fresh faced and determined out into the bustling Austrian streets, my well-worn map snugly in my back pocket.
The reality: I'm now grounded on a bench, no marzipan in sight, frowning at my blistering feet. After an hour of walking in my new shoes, I've been forced into retreat by the angry blisters at the backs of my heels. I knew I should have just packed those tennis shoes but no I wanted to be stylish.
I contemplate where I can buy normal, plain flip flops to take me the rest of the way. Because goddammit, I won't let a minor setback like this keep me from my pastries.
Scenario 3: Acting Like A Local
The expectation: This lace maxi dress will look beautiful for an afternoon of eating and park sitting. I've already done all the tours, poked around every winding alleyway, marveled in every century old church, fawned over every bold and imposing royal building. Now it's time for the unofficial food tour, where I tuck myself into wiry black chairs in quiet corners, sampling my way down the lunch menu as I drink cup after cup of frothy coffee. I'll look like a picture in my white dress, legs crossed at the ankles, staring out the window and out into Europe from my nook in the trattoria.
The reality: That dress? Yeah, that's already toast. I got it back looking slightly mangled and quite shapeless after I had it sent to laundry. Apparently they get things done here in the river with a washboard because there's no way this thing went through the gentle cycle. Feeling like I should be upset but not really finding that I care, I instead pop on whatever is at the top of my suitcase and remember to grab my wallet before I run out the door, all but vibrating with the excitement of being lost in the world another day.
Adventures are waiting, and I'm all too ready to meet them.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy