'Travel is a rebellion and packing is a spoilsport.' This happens to be my personal adage. I love to run around the countryside and am equally happy whether on a ramshackle bus or a luxury train. But, what puts me off completely about travel is packing.
'How irritating', is the first thought I get when I realize I have to pack. The entire euphoria of going away goes spiraling downhill. I feel like cancelling the trip and get panic attacks if I realize that I have to pack clothes for a different season. For example, winter wear during Summer if headed for the hills.
Mostly, I am pretty efficient and till date have missed a flight just once because of an inefficient cabby. However, I HATE to pack and often leave it till the end. I sometimes worry that I will one day cancel trips only because I loathe to pack - it is indeed becoming a nightmare of sorts for me as I grow older and thus, more rooted in my ideas!
But, it would be a lie if I say that I loved it when I was younger. Even when in college, I loved travelling so much that my teachers had started calling me Gulliver after the much-traveled chronicler from literature. All this glory when I was always hiding my fear of packing from the world and putting on a brave front.
For me packing is like going on war. I have loved the American novel, Three Men on a Boat for a long time because not only do the friends love travelling and meeting adventures face-on, they also hated packing. The author dedicates a whole chapter on the art of packing where the protagonists get everything wrong. It makes me feel awfully good and connected. As if I was the one Jerome K Jerome was thinking of when writing the story. Sigh!
Anyhow, I have now hacked some parts of it and this is how I manage,
Keep ready a to-do-list for packing. In fact, I have more than one. One for winter, one for summer, one for road trips yet another for flights and journey by train etc. For long trips, short ones and overnighters. Make as many as you think yo may need and keep them safe - please keep them all together in one place. I keep mine in an old biscuit tin on my work table.
Keep your suitcase packed with clothes for the next season. This really helps. As I said, my worst fear is packing for a different season, therefore, I pack my going away luggage with clothes that are from another season. This way, I just have to add toiletries, slippers, shoes and towels and I am done! Hola!!!
I keep buying two of the things that I mostly use. For example, lipsticks and gloss, hand cream, lotion etc. These I keep in a small pouch that I carry with me everyday. When I have to go somewhere, I just add a toothbrush, paste and body wash to the mix and throw it in. Also, carry a clean comb and a nail cutter if going for a longer trip.
Holidays should be for rejuvenation and not for adding to the fatigue. I always carry a light cover up - even the air condition in the car, train or flight can be a killer and a small pillow to keep the neck straight even if you doze off. Saves nursing a stiff neck on vacation.
Food and Water
If embarking on a road trip and even not, I'd suggest that you carry plenty of packaged water. Water and cold drinks from the roadside are often tampered with and can cause a whole lot of stomach and other ailments like, typhoid or even jaundice. Also, carry tetrapacks of fruit juices, butter milk and energy drinks. Avoid buying bottled drinks from railway stations and roadside vendors. Carry packs of ready-to-eat murmura, chiwda, chakli and biscuits that you like. All brands may not be available everywhere. Throw in some dry fruits and pop-corn if you have extra space. This will ensure that you never go without food or water. This saved my life once when I realized after boarding a night train to Jammu that Gharib Rath Express does not serve food or water nor bedding.
Extra Batteries and Chargers
Check all your electronic equipment a day or two before departure and charge the batteries - both working and extra. Try to carry less as these are the things that will not only weight you down but, also attract thieves. Don't carry stuff that you may not require while vacationing like, a laptop if you just want to check your emails. You can do that very well on your smartphone. Carry a torch and some extra batteries - just in case.
Napkins, Wipes and Sanitizer
Carry plenty of wipes, sanitizer, soaps and napkins because not everywhere you go may put cleanliness at the top of their charts. Carry them especially if you are on a family vacation with children and the elderly.
Medicines and First Aid
If you are on regular medication, chances are that you will carry the prescription and the medicines without a reminder but, if not, carry basic medicines that work for you in your luggage. Depending on your requirements and the season, carry medication for fever, stomach conditions, aches and pains and so on. Also, carry plenty of band-aids and medicines for cuts and wounds. You never know when you may need some.
Umbrella and Extra Shoes
It is always sensible to carry an umbrella and extra shoes because, there is no knowing when it may rain.
Tickets, Passport and ID Cards
Finally, ALWAYS check and put the tickets and ID cards or passport in one zip pocket of your purse. Check the dates and time a few days before the trip or mark them on a calendar on your desktop.
Cash and Cards
Keep cash with you because plenty of roadside joints on the highway and even at railway stations will not accept cards. Keep the cash distributed in different areas of the purse or better still wear it around your fanny. Saves a lot of trouble though you may not look chic but, your money will be safe.
Note: Though the hacks are all mine, the images are from Pinterest.