T-minus one day!!
Best-looking Abuelitos around.
Yesterday, Mom and Dad pulled together a really nice joint-graduation party for my younger brother and me. For a few hours, our house became this weirdly delicious melting pot of people who have held a special place in our lives ever since meeting them. For a little while, chatting with former teachers, longtime friends, and family, I could forget that there was a lot that needed to get done in between the “I’m going to Peru!” talk and actually getting in a car to go to the airport. But this morning, I woke up with two quests: purge and pack. In that order.
Over the past four years, my room evolved into state of quasi-habitation. The bed was always clear when I came home from school and needed to faceplant onto something soft, but the accumulation of clothes got really ridiculous. I began the process of doing a clothing cleanse when I came back from New Zealand last year, but gave up largely because I was simultaneously trying to unpack. This time, it was the opposite, and because my mentality was already “consolidate, consolidate,” the Goodwill bags grew at an almost alarming rate around me.
It’s like once you start you can’t stop.
I should also add that this was my first ~total~ clothing purge. So, I was totally unprepared for the avalanche of fabric that came out of my sock and underwear drawer. What do you mean there isn’t a magical clothing Neverland where my first fun-colored middle school socks with holes in the big toes can go to live forever?
When I was ready to make the transition from purge to pack, something interesting happened. I got happy. Now, anyone who’s ever packed for literally anything will tell you lots of things about traveling induce happiness, but packing is not one of them. Packing is one of the things you have to forget about in between trips, especially long ones, because if you remember how frustrated, wild-eyed, and sweaty you got the first time, you’d just set the whole suitcase on fire. I still got annoyed about having to downsize what I thought was a perfectly reasonable pile of clothing to bring, but having five bags sitting quietly beside me, stuffed with donations, was oddly peaceful and centering.
I also found something–the purse I brought with me on my first-ever international trip when I was sixteen.
Then and now, purse edition.
The cute little turtle purse is getting tapped in for my personal item this trip, but there’s something really cool about finding something old of yours that can still be used for something you’re about to do. Like, even though you’ve changed, an important part of you hasn’t.
I still want to try new things, to be intimidated by the world, and to make a space for myself in the face of that. The little black purse that went to France reminds me that I’m still the same person I was when I was sixteen, even though in many ways I’m not.
Starring my beautiful host sister in Marseille, France, and *the* black purse.
About to study abroad or live in another country for a few months? Know someone else who is? Check out my top five tips on how to pack efficiently below (think of it as a thank-you for reading my ramblings on underwear and cleaning).
- Get your carry-on and personal item in order. Passport, ID, currency in both U.S. money and that of the country you’re going to, credit card(s) you’re bringing with, phone, phone charger, laptop, laptop charger, plug adapter, and U.S. adapter-plug. If it’s the day before, make sure you check in! In the age of digital check-ins, it’s tempting to just screenshot the ticket, but for international travel I print them off, just to be safe.
- Make sure toiletries are sorted and bagged and on stand-by ready to be loaded into the suitcase. Contacts, contact solution, birth control, over-the-counter medications, tampons/pads/liners, toothpaste, and floss. I always like to bring a couple travel-sized shampoos and a little soap bar as well since I don’t know when exactly I’ll be making a first grocery-run. Make sure there is a little bit of everything in your toiletries carry-on as well, and don’t forget glasses/glasses case if you’re a four-eyes like me! The only thing that sucks more than not packing enough contacts is then realizing you’ve forgotten your glasses.
- Shoes. These get packed first because they’re heavy and it’s easier to smoosh clothes around shoes than shoes onto a pile of clothes. You will want to bring them all. Don’t. I’m a runner, so I’m slowly learning to take my Asics off of their pedestal and see them as walking around AND running shoes (blasphemy, I know). Alas, I digress. Four pairs, tops. One for walking around/running/hiking, one for the rain if you’re going to get wet, a pair of flip-flops if there’s going to be a beach, and a cute pair of booties for nights out.
- Make an initial pile of clothes you want to bring. Visualize yourself in all those cute, fun outfits. Now downsize by half.
- Don’t forget underwear, bras (about four), TWO pairs of night-clothes tops, and socks! I stick to between a week and ten days’ worth of socks and underwear, but this is one area I allow myself to go over on. Can you ever have too many clean pairs of underwear while traveling?
This is Edison. Edison is only nine weeks old, but he believes you can pack without losing your mind. Be like Edison.