HomeLeave 2012 part IV: A Place for My Stuff
6 weeks on the road, 2 to go, and I have lost ~temporarily~ 1 laptop charger, 2 necklaces, a pile of earrings, 1 passport, and my mind. Here is what I am learning about Living Out of Suitcases.
Being a little OCD helps: a place for everything and everything in its place. Always put things back in the bag/pocket/ziplock where they belong. It saves time searching everywhere, having a panic attack, then repacking the whole mess in the middle of the airport while a dozen smug jerks watch your shame, judging you. For example.
Habits ~call them systems, if that makes you feel more professional~ also foster great peace of mind. Unpacking mindfully, laying out all the little bits of your stuff you need, will make repacking a breeze. Find
an ashtray (dating myself) paper glass cover, mug, coaster, tchotchke, anything which will contain jewelry and whatever men are always jingling in their pockets. Take it off, put it there, put it all back on in the morning. Ignore the drawers unless you are moving in. Keep everything where it can call out to you to be remembered. That laptop charger? Yeah, the outlet was hidden and I’d wandered off with the machine, then stuffed it in the bag and left. Should have hung the car keys on the charger cord. For easy-to-forget things, that’s the best trick. Make it impossible to get very far without that thing you don’t dare leave behind. If the coat is hung in a closet, but the weather might turn fair, it can’t hurt to tuck one’s brassier in a pocket. But I suppose you could just put your shoes in the closet instead.
Maintaining focus isn’t easy, especially on vacation, but it matters. A few minutes at the right time can head off big stress later. Lists help. And schedules. Schedules with lists are dyn-o-mite. As George Carlin describes in his famous bit, A Place for My Stuff, supply chains can get dangerously thin. If you can’t take it all with you everywhere ~a pox on domestic airlines and their checked-bag fees~ knowing what you hope to do, and therefore what you will want to have, before you start out will give you more fun and less regret. Schedule => Side Trips => Activities => Stuff. Now check for overlap and duplications. Then put some more stuff back. You are packing too much. Truly. Believe me, you want to take more than you will use. People with “baggage” require extra effort, even when the bags are real and it’s you. Keep it simple.
Travel is fun, people! But losing stuff, being unprepared, and getting flustered are not. Thorough planning beforehand, occasional reassessements ~take it all out and put it all back~ to remember what you have, and task-based rituals will help you keep it together and enjoy the blessings to be found on the road.