Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash
By Monica Brancheau
I love to travel, but I hate to pack. Packing for me is about as bad as going to the dentist. It’s like having one of those nightmares where you realize you went to school with two different shoes on and wake up in a sweat, only to realize you aren’t in school anymore and you’re lying in bed. The stress, the anxiety, the uncertainty. The skill level needed to be an expert packer is résumé worthy.
These are my top 10 reasons I hate packing (in no particular order):
- How on earth will I know what I want to wear every day for 7-10 days? I pick my daily outfit based on my mood and the weather. I can’t really predict my mood seven days out, and we all know how reliable meteorologists are!
- With every outfit comes accessories — shoes, jewelry, particular undergarments, etc — just another layer of niceties to factor in.
- What if I forget…? This is my favorite game — or should I say, my biggest nightmare! What if I forget my phone charger, medicine, toothbrush, ID — all the important things?! If this doesn’t throw you into a tailspin of anxiety sprinkled with irrational stories, then please let me know what meds you take…
- Packing for kids. This could be its own article. As if packing for yourself isn’t bad enough, packing for your kids is like preparing for a war. You must think of everything that could possibly happen to ensure that your little people have everything they could need so the trip does not turn into National Lampoon’s Vacation
- Making it all fit. Packing has turned into an art form that rivals origami. Are you a roller, a folder, or a cube packer? Do you have to stuff things into your shoes? What’s the very first thing you put in your suitcase? Do you pack in order of what you plan on wearing? Do you care more about how you fit your clothes or the wrinkles they’ll get?
- How long it takes! It doesn’t seem to matter how much time I give myself or how far ahead I pack — I still don’t seem to have enough time. I’m sure that’s in large part due to my habits — when I pack, I’m rarely ever able to solely focus on packing. I get easily distracted by a question about homework or the dryer signal going off. Then when I head back to where I left off, I inevitably can’t remember what I was looking for or where it is.
- The suitcase shuffle. Now that we must pay for everything that goes on a plane, it seems more important than ever to be smart about your packing, and this includes what suitcase to use. I have travel envy for those people that can pack a seven-day trip into a single carry-on bag. I don’t know how they do it. The only reasonable explanation is that all they packed was a ton of linen and one pair of shoes. Or they’re borrowing Mary Poppins’ bag.
- The weight game. Some suitcases weigh half of the allotted weight you’re allowed on a plane. We’ve gotten into the habit of weighing ourselves and then weighing ourselves with the suitcase. The level of excitement we have when our suitcase is right on the mark would make you think we’ve won the lottery! We’ve even been in those moments of desperation at the airport, taking things out of one suitcase and moving it into something else. It’s always one of my favorite things to have our underwear being thrown through the air from one suitcase to another to entertain the eager travelers waiting in line.
- Unforeseen leaks and messes. So ladies: how many times have you opened your suitcase when you reach your destination to find your favorite sweater covered in lotion? Or your t-shirt covered in your eyeshadow? Or your entire suitcase smells like it took a bath in your perfume? Oh yes, the joys of exploding items. And even the most prepared with their plastic bags may still experience this when your plastic bag explodes (this has happened to me!).
- Lost luggage! After all the methodical rolling, the perfectly-executed outfits with matching accessories for each day (sometimes multiple a day), the perfect measurement and weight — your luggage is lost! All of the anxieties, stress, and what if’s are now compounded by a “What the hell do I do now?”
Although I hate packing, it would never stop me from taking a trip or having wanderlust for many parts of the world. That said, if someone who knew me well ever said they would pack for me, I would gladly take them up on their offer. Happy packing!
A woman who has had multiple careers, mom of four and passion for dance, Monica Brancheau is a Michigan native and graduate of the University of Michigan who then never left Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in working with children’s issues from education to non-profit work in teaching in urban settings, non-profit management, marketing and fundraising. She is currently the Director of Ele’s Place Ann Arbor. When not working you can find her gardening, reading, writing, listening to music, and spending time with her treasured family.