Thursday, October 12, 2006

Packing light--or not

Whenever I pack my bags for a trip, I try to pack light. As all seasoned travelers know, this is the way to go. But I end up packing heavy. And I never bring the right thing anyway.

For one thing, a woman can't go anywhere without at least four pairs of shoes. Not even overnight. For a ten-day trip, you can imagine how many shoes are needed. It is a question of bringing the shoes juste for every outfit. Every outfit has its own shoe karma--the difference between dressing for success and looking like a slob is having the exactly right pair of shoes. Then you have to bring sneakers, because God forbid you actually have to walk somewhere, they are the only shoes you can actually wear without bringing tears to your eyes. And involuntary but deeply felt groans from your lips.

Then there's the weather thing. Last time I went to California, in February, I asked my daughter what to bring. She assured me that they have winter in California and wear winter clothes. So I packed nice warm sweaters, etc. At the last minute, I threw in two t-shirts, basically to sleep in. I wore one or the other every day. The rest of the stuff was just brought along for the ride.

In early August I went for a cruise. Envisioning sunny days by the pool, I brought two bathing suits. Rain, wind, and fog ensued, so I bought a jacket and a sweatshirt on the ship, and became a walking advertisement for Carnival Victory.

When I went to Massachusetts later in August, I took lightweight summer clothes. Just one bathing suit. It rained and was freezing every day. Fortunately there was a Marshall's near our hotel, so we both purchased warm jackets. I had only two pairs of jeans with me. But I forgot to bring along a belt, and the low-slung pair kept falling off unless I held them up firmly with one hand. Since those were my only warm clothes, I bought a belt in Marshall's.

You can buy some of the stuff you forget if you are going to civilized countries, usually. But have you ever tried to purchase dental floss threaders in St. John's New Brunswick? Or Brushpiks.

Suitcases. None of mine are the right size. I have two small ones which are okay for overnight, as long as you have a garment bag. I have two humongous ones which could carry a load a bricks each, if I felt the need for a load of bricks. I don't.

Just lots of shoes.

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