Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How to pack for a long, long, long time

I'm not the worst packer in the world, but I'm definitely not the best. When packing for a short trip I usually just toss some half folded clothes and other items in my bag without really thinking it through.

However, when you need to pack for 3 months, you need a bit more than a spare shirt and a change of socks. So I decided to handle things a bit more structured this time around. This method might not be the best for everyone, but it worked pretty well for me. So I decided to share it, for all those other troubled packers out there.

1. M(t)ake a list

With so much on your mind, it's easy to forget things. So I decided to make a list first. That way I could easily check which items I still needed to buy, wash, repair, ask back from that friend I lend it to 2 years ago, dig back up from the back of my closet...
However, every time I started on the list, I got distracted. So in the end, I used the internet to find some packing lists made by others with way more experience than I, and just adjusted those to fit my needs and desires. To be honest, that was probably a better idea anyway, because I had no idea how many shirts, pairs of pants, or socks to pack, so those lists were good guidelines.

2. Start collecting

Collect all the things on your list and start checking off. Start on time, because you don't want to realise last minute your raincoat has been eaten by a friendly neighbourhood moth family with no time to buy a new one anymore. For me, it also helped to keep my peace of mind to physically see all the items come together. 

3. Add the missing bits and pieces

Your friends are going to come over and give you parting gifts. So add them to your pile. Add your stuffed monkey with the missing eye you can't sleep without. Add another sweater to your travel wardrobe, because they said it was going to be really, really, really cold. Add another skirt because it goes so well with the sweater. Add an extra book that you really need to read while abroad. Add more gifts from friends. Add more socks because you never know. Add a box of your favourite cookies because maybe they only have icky cookies where you're going. Add another pair of shoes because you can't stand the thought of leaving them behind. Add all those things that weren't on your original list but you suddenly realise you have to take with you...

4. Go through all the stages

This step takes quite some time and it will cost you a lot of energy, but if you want to end up with neatly packed luggage, you'll have to go through it. So here we go...

  • Deny the problem. It's not that much stuff. The suitcase looks small on the outside, but on the inside it's a lot bigger. It will fit somehow. Everything is fine.
  • Get angry. How dare that stupid bag be so small? And why do books take up so much space? You'd think that in this day and age where we can pack so much data in a teeny tiny microchip, somebody would have come up with a solution for this. Why doesn't the airline company with their stupid weight limits care about Monkey and your extra sweater? Why???
  • Try to bargain. Okay, it won't all fit in the suitcase. But you can easily wear that extra sweater. Or two. Three might also work. It's only if you wear more than four at the same time, it becomes a bit odd, right?
  • Get depressed. It's slowly sinking in that there's a big chance Monkey has to stay behind. Put on those lovely shoes that you can't take with you, nest yourself in the piles of luggage, eat that whole package of cookies and cry. It's okay. Let it all out. There there.
  • Accept reality. You can't take it all. You will have to make choices. You are strong. You can do it.

5. Eliminate

Use the list to get back to the essentials, but don't get too hard on yourself. If you really think you're going to need Monkey, then make room for him.
If you have trouble deciding which clothes to take, then try to stick to a pallet of 3 matching colours. It will save you a lot of trouble and headaches figuring out which shirt goes with what pair of pants, and you'll end up with a wardrobe where all pieces are interchangeable, so you won't feel like you have to wear the same outfit for months in a row.

6. Pack it all away

Alright, time to get everything in your bag. It's a bit like playing Tetris, except it's no fun at all. There are quite a few packing philosophies - some people swear by rolling up all their clothes instead of folding them. Some people like to invest in those vacuum bags to lose as little space as possible on air. As for me - I just call in a friend and let her do the packing while Monkey and me sit by and watch her do it. Worked like a charm.

While packing, you're going to have to make some
tough decisions on what to take, and what to leave behind.

Hej då,


PS: In case you were wondering, I didn't take Monkey with me. He's afraid of flying.

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