Should Packing For A Vacation Be Difficult And Stressful?

What’s so difficult? I’m all packed and ready to go! :-)

By reading the title of this post, you can most likely tell what I have been doing. Yes, I have been packing for a vacation. In the past, every time I have packed for a vacation I found it perplexing. It seemed like no matter how much I wanted it to not be confusing and/or puzzling, it was as though I was packing to move out of my house and to another country. I was just as confused and puzzled as I would have been if trying to solve a major complex problem. Why? Ok, ok, I’ll admit that I am stretching the truth about my packing. But, it really isn’t as easy as I think it should be considering that I have done it more times than I can remember.

Why some of us are so bothered by this is the big question of the moment? I have friends who have their spouses pack for them. I guess that is a solution, if you so desire. Frankly, I don’t want that option. There is no way that my wife could pack for me AND I would feel comfortable that high-maintenance me would be satisfied with her attempt. Of course, in the future I may not want/need as much as I “think” I need now. But, this time, I am packing for a vacation that is suppose to be fun and having what I think I need adds to the fun. :-)

There’s less stress when your suitcase holds your entire wardrobe.

Chris Guillebeau on his website, The Art of Non-Conformity, has an article entitled, Packing List. I read the article last Spring and have tried to use some of his ideas to decrease my puzzlement with packing. His article started with hisĀ biggest secret: “packing light is actually easier than bringing a ton of stuff.” He claims that his travel-stress is directly proportionate to the amount of stuff he carries around. I don’t disagree with him, but Mr. Guillebeau is usually traveling long distances on airplanes with many plane changes. I am packing for a road trip where I am driving long distances and then staying at one place for at least a week or more. On the other hand, I do agree with packing as light as possible. It’s just so difficult to decide what to pack so I have everything I need/want and have it “packed light.”

Often, when I return from a vacation, I have many pieces of clothing that I haven’t worn. It’s then that I realize I could have packed less. How can I determine that when I’m packing to leave? And, if I spend more time methodically thinking about packing lighter, then don’t I make packing more difficult at the expense of returning home with all originally packed items having been used?

Another one of Mr. Guillebeau’s idea’s that I have found extremely useful is having bags/suitcases that are always packed in the same way with location of items always positioned in the same place. Probably, considering all of the ideas I have tried in order to simply the packing process and to know while traveling where items are located, this has been the most useful. I now have bags/suitcases dedicated to particular sets of items. When packing, I no longer have to wonder where to put items; I simply put items in the bag/suitcase that I have always put them in. It gives me a feeling of home, where I have cabinets, shelves, drawers and a closet to place items in an organized manner for quick retrieval. In a way, living out of the suitcase/bag then becomes “just like home.” :-)

A neatly packed suitcase in the event of Americans having to evacuate a military base. Location: Morocco Date taken: 1957

Ok, the two ideas of (1) pack light/keep it simple and (2) bags/suitcases dedicated to particular sets of items, have been useful, but I still find packing to be more difficult than I think necessary. Why should it be so difficult? What can I do to decrease the difficultness?

As I see it, packing, no matter what you do, will involve a certain amount of difficultness and/or stress. What I need to do is try to decrease the amount of difficultness and stress. I think I have made great strides in lessening my problems with always trying to pack light and dedicate suitcases and bags to particular sets of items. But, I still must accept that packing for a vacation will have some amount of stress and difficultness. Perhaps vacationing (fun) and packing (stress) are a form of dualism; they are two “opposed parts” of which you can’t have one without the other. They are hopelessly interconnected and conflicting!

Should packing for a vacation be difficult and stressful? I don’t know if the word “should” is appropriate. If the question is changed to, “Can packing for a vacation be made less stressful and difficult?“, then the answer is maybe. :-)

What do you think?

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