So it is May 24, 2016 and I leave for Cape Town, South Africa in exactly 7 days. The steps that I have taken to prepare for my 2 month and 4 day trip are minimal. I have bought an outlet adapter and chose which suitcases I will bring. Instead of being frantic and packing everything at once, I like to do a bit day-by-day. I find that it not only eases the process, but also lets you really consider what are “wants” and what are “needs” when packing your bags. Often, I will pack things and the next day take it out, realizing that I actually do not need it.
When I first started traveling, I tended to pack way too much, taking full advantage of the 2 bag allowance, up to 50 pounds each, plus a carry on and purse! Absolutely unnecessary. I spent this past January 2016 in Morocco with my mom. It was her first big trip to the other side of the world, and she insisted that she needed EVERYTHING. I kept assuring her that she was packing too much, speaking from experience, but she would not listen. She packed two full suitcases and a carry on purse. As soon as we landed, struggling to manage all her luggage, she said “I packed way too much, this is ridiculous.” I hate to be the one to say, “I told you so,” but… I told you so!
Luckily, we were able to settle down and put all of our bags at my in-laws house in Meknes, Morocco and take book-bags for our subsequent trips. After that experience, my mom swore that the next trip we go on (Thailand, January 2017), she will pack much lighter, alleviating the headache she experienced. However, with that being said, I think it is beneficial to have that “Oh my goodness, I have way too much stuff,” moment because it really teaches us what to bring and not to bring for our next endeavor.
Tomorrow I will start going through some shirts and pants that I plan on bringing. Thursday I will choose what shoes, Friday I will run to some stores if I need to pick up anything, Saturday I will start to make a pile of everything I plan on packing and dedicate Sunday and Monday to packing everything neatly, with easy access to things I will need the most. In my carry-on bag, I always pack my camera, laptop, all chargers and adapters, a small purse that has my money, credit cards, passport, immunization records, and any other relevant documents. Note: it is always a good idea to make extra copies of your ID and your picture page of your passport, and even your credit cards!
How many times have you gotten off of the plane, already jet lagged, exhausted, only wanting to sleep but instead, you have to stand around the baggage claim, waiting for your bags that usually look EXACTLY like all the others? I learned the hard way when someone accidentally took my bag instead of theirs. After waiting almost 45 minutes, I knew something was wrong. I suddenly thought to ask the people around me if they had mistakenly taken my bag, and sure enough, they had. They apologized, and from that moment on, I have made it an utmost priority to make my luggage stand out in some way, shape, or form. The easiest way for me to do this was to take some brightly colored ribbon and take the edge of a pair of scissors to curl the ribbon, it makes it a bit more shinier and easier to see. I tied the combination of ribbons onto my handle, and I have never had the same problem again.
Will keep you posted as this packing process unfolds…
Warmest, Lauren K.