Travel journal: Overpacking


I just finished packing for the annual family summer road trip. I’m looking at the bloated suitcases and tote bags lined up in the hallway and thinking, wow, I really overpacked.

“Just throw a few T-shirts, a toothbrush, and a few changes of underwear in a small bag and be on your way,” says my wash-and-wear friend, the one with the athletic build, perfect skin, and tousled beach blonde hair. Sure, it’s easy for her. She makes a shopping bag with armhole cutouts look like high fashion.  She traveled Europe for a month with a carry-on backpack.

“Just buy what you forget at the local Target.”

I told her I don’t think there are any Target stores where we are going.

“Well, Wal-Mart then.”

Um, no. The Evil Empire gets not a dime of my money. (Actually, I’ve read some bad things about Target as well. My sexy boyfriend with the bull’s-eye tattoo has some dirty secrets. Looks like I’m going to have to reevaluate that relationship.)

“You are being difficult,” she says.

Sigh. Yes, I am.

I harbor a great resistance to packing. I procrastinate. Then I panic and overpack. This wasn’t always the case. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Actually, I do.

This is an act of rebellion. When I use an airplane to get where I’m going, I am so restricted not only in weight and dimension but also suitcase contents.  It makes me feel violated and oppressed. When I travel by car, I can take my entire wardrobe, my shoe collection, a stack of hardcover books, three types of shampoo in the full-size bottles.  I can fill a suitcase full of liquids and sharp objects. I can keep my shoes and belt on when I cross a state line.

Of course, I am not going to get the last laugh this time. My husband called; he wrenched his back. No heavy lifting for several days. You know what that means, don’t you?

Later, I’ll post pictures of myself carrying the kitchen sink up the side of a mountain.

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