Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer Vacation Packing; 2 trips, 4 weeks, 1 carry on

A lot of people seem to really dread packing for trips and I really don’t know why. I’ve also noticed that most people leave it to the last minute and end up stressed and forgetting potentially important items.

For me, packing is very enjoyable and I love to do it well in advance.
I created a packing list for the summer about 6 weeks before I would be leaving on the first leg of the journey and also fully packed my bags. I’m not usually prepared this far in advance but I bought a new backpack and I needed to make sure I could fit everything I needed into it and that it would still suit the carry-on requirements once it was full. Generally speaking I wouldn’t have even considered this because I would use a rolling suitcase that I know is carry-on appropriate and doesn’t expand. I also wouldn’t usually be packing for 2 back-to-back trips in one month.

The bag I chose is an Osprey Talon 33L backpack. I did a bunch of research online before purchasing because I wanted to find a bag that was just right; the Talon isn’t perfect, but its close. I also knew I wanted to stick between 30 and 35L despite how challenging I thought it would be. Low cost airlines really aren’t that low cost if you need to check a bag. Beyond not paying for checked bags, using a backpack gives me the opportunity to be hands free when I’m moving around and I don’t have to worry about stairs or cobblestones.

On a day off work with my packing listen hand I brought everything I would be packing out into the living room and got started with packing, as if I’d be leaving in the morning. The way I laid everything out made it look quite daunting and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t all fit. I also had to consider the weight of the bag since I not only have to carry it on my back, but carry-on bags have a weight limit too.

I started with all the clothes in the main compartment knowing that they will take up the majority of my space, and they did. I didn’t pack quite as neatly as I usually do in hopes that everything would fit and I would therefore have a bit of extra space when everything was rolled properly. This was not the case at all unfortunately. The bag was jam packed full and everything wasn’t able to fit.

Take 2. Unpack, make some cuts and re-pack.

I didn’t have to get rid of much because I packed properly this time and that made a big difference. I have to admit though; I’m not crazy about the idea of trying to find a specific piece of clothing in this bag. It’s a top loading backpack so it won’t be super easy to get at the items on the bottom.

After sorting that out I took pictures of everything as it came out so I would know exactly where to put it back when it’s time to pack for real.

This whole packing plan is made so much easier by the fact that I will dress pretty much the same no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I’ve looked at a lot of packing lists online that tailor specifically to the destination. If you’re in Paris you MUST bring a trench coat, in South East Asia you MUST have harem pants. Not me; its leggings and T-shirts pretty much always.

The last piece of my packing puzzle is my carry-on. Even though I will be carrying everything I still like to have a bag that will keep my electronics close to me, somewhere I can keep snacks, entertainment, warm socks and whatever else I’ll need in transit. Having easy access to liquids when passing through security is great as well. On top of being a practical carry-on bag, I also need the bag to be my purse and day bag throughout the trip which means I had a lot of boxes to tick while searching for this bag. For personal security I needed something with a zipper and a cross-body strap. It should also be big enough to hold everything but not big enough to ruin my chances of carrying both bags on flights.

Packing is one of the things that gets me the most excited for a trip and it was no exception at 6 weeks out! And now at just over 1 week out I'm ready to start packing for real!


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