Since I’m leaving for France tomorrow* (seriously, when did that happen?), I really couldn’t put it off any longer: Packing day has arrived.
It has also finally sunk in that I’m leaving the country—for a long time: My stomach is doing that thing where it feels queazy from an unstable cocktail of excitement and dread. This is the signal that TAPIF has shifted from an abstract notion to a concrete thing I’m actually doing. About time…
I think it started yesterday when I was putting away laundry and decided to start grouping together the things I wanted to take and subsequently realizing that I’d probably have to cut that in half.
Anyway, I’m now in full, OMG-I-want-to-vomit-because-I-drank-that-dread/excitement-cocktail-on-an-empty-stomach mode because now I’m packing for real instead of just pre-packing.
I’m by nature a very organized person and love making lists (I have packing lists from old trips all saved in a folder on my computer somewhere), but this time, I took organization and forethought to a whole new level.
In my last post, I discussed my decision to travel with three specific bags: a large rolling checked bag, a sizable backpack carry-on, and a “personal item.” But I neglected to wax poetic about my Eagle Creek Pack-it Cubes. They are seriously the best thing that’s happened to packing. Ever.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You definitely don’t start the packing process with packing cubes.
You start it by laying everything you want to take out on your bed and floor.
1. Clothing—my color scheme is black, gray and navy (kind of accidentally—I guess I’m just really into those colors right now) which will make mix-and-match outfit creating pretty easy. From my study abroad experience I learned to bulk up on classic staple pieces in solid neutral colors—I hardly ever wore any of the items with bold colors or patterns. Instead, you add pizazz with jewelry and scarves.
2. Shoes—this is packing light for me: Birkenstocks, dressy sandals, running shoes, shower shoes (for hostels), Toms, flats, lace-up leather shoes, leather boots, snow boots and slippers.
3. Electronics, important documents and other odds and ends…
Including: Teaching aids—I had way too much fun in the kid’s reference and history sections in Barnes and Noble.
After the initial layout comes the purge. It helps during this process (especially if you’re an over-packer like I am) to remind yourself that all will not be lost if you have to buy something once you’re there (especially if you’re like me and will probably do too much shopping for your own good anyway).
Once the purge is complete, it’s time to start the actual packing (as in putting things into the suitcase) part. Enter Pack-it Cubes.
The packing cubes aren’t really cubes (as my overly-literal little brother pointed out) so much as rectangular prisms. They’re made out of cloth and zippers and you roll up your clothes (jeans, Unpretentious Whitman sweatpants, sweaters, T-shirts, tank tops, etc.) and jam them into the cube and then zip it all up into a neat and tidy package.
I usually prefer packing things in stacks because I can easily categorize items by type. Stacking your clothes, however, isn’t the most space-efficient method. Rolling is, and with the cubes you don’t sacrifice organization! You can put all your pants in one! All your tops in another! All your scarves and tights in another! It’s heavenly.
Since I’m starting out my long trip with a short trip (and because it’s generally a good idea to have some clothes and essential items in your carry-on in case anything dastardly happens to your checked luggage), I decided to confine the items for my stay in Nantes to my Porter 46 travel-pack.This way, I won’t have to go digging through the checked bag until I’m unpacking it in Auch.
- 1 + 1/2 cube of clothing
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 1 empty small Adidas duffle
- 1 raincoat
- 1 toiletry bag
- 1 pillow
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- Miscellaneous electronics (flash drives, external hard drive) and various chargers
The rest of my clothing went into two cubes, one half cube, two vacuum bags and a garment bag, which all fit into one half of my large checked suitcase by Heys, leaving the other half free for the remaining shoes, toiletries and other miscellaneous items.
- 2 + 1/2 cubes + 2 vacuum bags + 1 garment bag of clothing
- 6 pairs of shoes
- 2 bags of toiletries/make-up
- 1 small purse
- 1 jar of crunchy peanut butter as a thank-you gift for Lise (Peanut butter is hard to come by in France. Peanut butter addicts find this troubling; I opt for Nutella.)
- Teaching aids (books, Mad Libs, photos, maps)
Finally that leaves my “personal item.” I’ve decided on my large size Longchamp purse.
- Important documents
- Reading glasses
- Water bottle
- Ginger chews
And here are all of my life’s possessions for the next année scolaire. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my checked bag doesn’t weigh more than 50 lbs…
*I started this post much earlier in the day and have been adding to it incrementally. At the time of posting, I have 13 hours until departure!