Packing For Vacation - Live Like a Mensch
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Packing For Vacation

Photo of the approximate amount of luggage I would deem necessary for an out-of-town wedding weekend courtesy of Mattes


J, LO, and I are currently on vacation. We've taken an old-fashioned family road trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York state.

After ten years together, it is this particular trip which has highlighted the vast difference between how J packs for a trip and how I do so.

J, upon realizing he will be gone for approximately six weeks, will calculate that two tee-shirts and a pair of jeans will cover his sartorial needs for his entire trip.

I, on the other hand, will bring three pairs of jeans, two dozen shirts and blouses, at least one dress or skirt, two pairs of dress pants, two swimsuits, and no fewer than four pairs of shoes for a three-day weekend out of town.

J accuses me of trying to break his back.

I tell him that he does not sufficiently plan for every possible contingency.

He points out that I do not use 80% of the clothing I bring with me on trips.

I calmly explain through my teeth that we always end up having to buy something for J that we already own when on trips.

This is the point at which J says he's going to take over packing for our next trip, which never actually happens.

I think my overpacking tendencies stem from two separate things:

1. When I was about 12, knowing that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up and hating the feeling that occurs when all you need is a pen and there is none about, I decided to be the sort of person who always carries a pen and paper with me, no matter what. After a few years, I revised my resolution to include all sorts of different necessities-like a napkin or tissues, a buck or two in cash, and a bottle of water. Basically, I decided on my very own that I wanted to always be prepared.

2. When I was packing for my six months in Paris as a junior in college, I was struck by the assertion in the packing list provided to me by my study program that "no one ever feels like they packed too little." So, I cut my packing list down to the bare necessities, thinking how much smarter I would be than the average traveling-abroad bear.

I packed too little.

(Of course, this gave me the opportunity to replenish my stores through shopping trips in Paris, about which I probably cannot and should not complain, but I definitely had fewer clothes with me than I needed, and I definitely spent more money than I ought to have while I was there.)

So, for this trip to upstate New York, we have a strange hybrid of our packing styles. J packed for himself and LO, meaning each of the masculine members of our family have a grand total of two pairs of pants/shorts to wear throughout our trip. (This is also problematic considering LO's engaging habit of getting yogurt/applesauce/hummus/chocolate/juice on his own clothes, and then immediately transferring said food onto whichever parent he happens to be nearest to at the time of the spillage).

I, on the other hand, have approximately six different pairs of maternity pants/shorts, plus various other types of cover ups for my nether limbs, even though I spend as much time as possible in my favorite pair of capris, provided they are not covered in hummus.

J is pleased that there is a 50% reduction in the weight of our suitcase due to his packing for himself. I am learning not to cringe at the idea of my boys looking like rumpled tourists, considering the fact that it is what they are. And, I know that I have the clothing necessary for myself for any possible contingency, including high tea with the queen should it be necessary.

LO just wants to know why we didn't pack ALL the toys.


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