Be Careful – I’m Packing

If only going out-of-town didn’t require packing a suitcase.

I love traveling. I just hate packing for that travel. It’s not that I stink at packing. I like to think I’m pretty good at it. I know my way around the various Ziploc space saver bags and I’m up to date on all the packing hacks from how to roll, not fold your clothes for optimum luggage stuffing to condensing your cosmetics.

My problem is I loathe packing. In fact, I despise it so much that when I’m packing, I’m secretly thinking that I’d almost rather stay home than endure the agony of taking a 64-ounce shampoo bottle and squeezing it into a three-ounce container. The blame, like 100 percent of it, goes to my children and my husband.  Over the years this trio has managed to kill my suitcase mojo.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, ruins the packing experience like years spent packing for yourself and your kids. The best thing about my kids getting older wasn’t things like their ability to drive themselves to and fro it was that I never had to pack a suitcase for them ever again.

Because when they’re young not only are you packing a suitcase for each kid you’re packing a “go bag” of items required if anything goes wrong from medical emergencies (coughs, colds, flu, diarrhea, nausea, headache, earache, sore throat, and enough various sizes of band aids to cover the entire body of at least two family members) to food provisions that ranged from fruit to items with a shelf life that would take you through a doomsday scenario.

Then there’s the “backpack of fun” that each child needs jammed with things to keep them busy during the journey, so they don’t drive you or any fellow passengers bonkers. This means craft supplies, books, toy cars and dolls, miniature board games and of course electronic items and at least three back up chargers. Each trip we took more than 100 miles from our home required the skills of a packing Ninja, the Best Buy Geek Squad and a CDC medical specialist.

Meanwhile, my husband would throw some underwear, a pair of jeans and couple of shirts into a suitcase and ponder why it was, one, “taking me so long to pack?” And two, why was I complaining so much about it? Some days it’s a wonder that man is still alive. One year, I did throw a pair of shoes at him. They were kids’ Sesame Street flip-flops, so he got off easy.

Trust me when I tell you that if you go through all that enough times packing to leave town can make you jittery and cause feelings of intense anxiety. Never mind the worry that you’re going to forget something. And what’s up with that? I feel like that when I pack, I act like I’m never going to see a Super Target again. If you’re vacationing domestically and you’re not going off the grid there’s 100 percent chance, you’ll be able to buy whatever you left back at home fairly easily.

My packing phobia has also been known to affect my self-esteem especially when I see large families traveling with only one suitcase. Are they using witchcraft to get a family of seven’s clothes and assorted shampoos into one carry on? Are they privy to some secret space age cramming technology that allows you to shrink your items by 90 percent? It’s either that or the outfits they wore on the plane are the ones they’ll be styling their entire vacation.

One time at the Orlando airport I did ask a fellow mom how she got her family down to one carry on suitcase for her ENTIRE entourage. She gave me one of those condescending looks that moms use when they feel superior to you in both the parenting and intellectual arena and quipped, “We only stay at five-star resorts with laundry facilities.”

Because I didn’t like her la-di-da tone, at all, I shot back with, “Yes, because nothing says vacation like doing laundry,” and then I did a subtle hair flip. After that she dramatically shooed her family away from mine in the gate area. Her loss because I’m the person you’ll want to be close to in case of any travel emergency. I’ve got everything you’ll need from batteries to bacitracin.