Hoo boy, do I hate packing. I travel a lot, so I’m reasonably good at it, but I’m not a fan. For one thing, as you may remember from my blog about my “battle bag,” I am not a devil-may-care kind of person. Like the Coast Guard—or was it Amelia Peabody?—my motto is Semper Paratus: if I can imagine it might happen, it gets worked into the packing calculus.
If it’s just a conference, or an overnight trip, no problem. I have lists built in to my computer for that, and then it’s just a matter of making sure I get the dry cleaning done. If it’s fieldwork, there’s a certain amount of muscle-memory dedicated to that (field toolkit, bag for clothes, backpack for computer, books, etc.), though that doesn’t happen much any more. But if it’s a combination of several events— research, book tour, visit to friends—and it also includes travel with my husband, who will not necessarily be doing everything I am, it starts getting complicated. Mathematical. Like this:
((Mystery Convention + vacation + research) + (mystery convention + vacation)/ 2(checked bags) + 2(carry-on bags)/ 2 - TSA regulations) * 1 week…
Where “Mystery Convention” = (banquet + signings + notes) and “vacation” = outdoors (and not beach) + cold weather and “research” = camera + notebook + pens and “mystery convention” = banquet only and “checked bag” <50lbs and “carry-on” contains < 1 baggie of liquids and gels and “1 week” may or may not = laundry…
You see what I mean. I’m not packing for my husband, but since we share suitcase space, he does enter into the equation.
I really should lighten up. Most of the time, where I’m going, anything I forget I can find, borrow, buy, or do without. Most of the time all of this is just me trying to impose order on my world, and I’d be better off chilling. I know guys who’ve gone to academic conferences with nothing but the clothes on their back, a clean shirt, a slide set, toothbrush, and two pairs of underpants in a paper bag, and they did just fine. It’s just not me.
It’s all a small price to pay, this mania. Once I’m out the door, alea jacta est, and I can relax. It’s all worth the effort. I can start enjoying the trip, the sights I'll see, the people I'll meet because I’ve already done the math.
See you in Anchorage!