Pack It In

Eiffel Tower at night seen from The Esplanade du Trocadero

Digressing big time…bear with me. I’m packing for two glorious-sounding weeks in Normandy and Brittany with a quickie three-day stop in Paris at the end. For someone who travels a fair amount, I should be used to packing, right? But I’m not. I insist on traveling with a very small suitcase, small enough to carry-on should the airline gods smile on me, and a backpack. After all, I’m responsible for toting my goods wherever I am. True, Vogue will not have its eye on me as a candidate for travel chic but I doubt if that was the editors’ plan anyway.

Lipault suitcase that weighs little and holds, well, enough

I realize my fear of packing is sparked by not having something I feel I should have brought. This is entirely ridiculous when going to France, not so much when I went to Bhutan last fall. But I like my own, broken-in clothes; even more, I like, make that insist on, shoes I can walk reasonably comfortably in. This is more of a problem than it may seem because I have narrow feet, a high instep and absolutely no fat pad on the bottoms. I’ve had this problem since I was in my twenties so it’s not strictly age-related. Recently I consulted a podiatrist who sent me off for OTC insoles which I dutifully bought. Of course, even cut down they don’t fit in most of my shoes… Anyone else out there with shoe problems will sympathize but with our country in such disarray and the climate situation, this is pretty small potatoes.

I’ve read or watched endless articles/videos on how to pack—roll or fold seems to be the biggest area of contention with fold winning (although I bet the companies that make packing cubes don’t agree.) My problem is acerbated a bit as I was married to a champion packer who returned home from every trip, be it a month in Asia or a week in Maine, with every single item of clothing clean and folded.  To no avail I pointed out that we had a washer and dryer but gave up. His suitcase was a neatness manual; mine he referred to as “the soup.”

Then there was the time I returned from a trip with my first husband, entering the US through Miami.  We were lined up to go through a customs line behind a Menonite family followed by two guy backpackers. The inspector donned latex gloves and carefully scrutinized the family’s belongings.  All clear.  Next she addressed the backpacks, trying not to wrinkle her nose at what must have been ripe belongings. Their stuff was also fine. Then I put my suitcase on the counter, she opened it and…out jumped the largest bug I’ve ever seen—several inches long, just missing the inspector’s nose. She went through my husband’s bag with care probably looking for the mate but only I was, um, carrying.

If anyone has packing strategies, I encourage you to share them. Meanwhile, I need to figure out my electronic cords and connectors and leave a piece of cooked chicken for my cat.

Fuji, 16 +

DYI Trail Mix

Excellent for on the road anywhere at any time. ½ cup of this sweet and salty mix is only 146 calories.

1/2 cup unsalted mixed nuts

2 1/2 cups multigrain toasted oat cereal

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup M&M’s

1 cup mini pretzel twists

1 cup whole-grain cheddar Goldfish crackers

Mix ingredients together. Portion into ½ cup plastic bags. Serve with the warmish water in your travel bottle.  And happy trails.



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One Response to Pack It In

  1. Linda Margolies says:

    Hi Mari, For the last two years I’ve been to London and Paris, at the end of August. There was often a bit of a chill in the air, and my daughters went out and purchased very very light down jackets which fit in the tiniest of bags.
    As for my feet – Sneakers!
    I know it’s not stylish, but they work!
    Have a great trip~