#SurvivalMode: Last minute packing tips.

How many of us wait until the last-minute to pack even when the trip isn’t? *Raises hand* I tell myself every time, “this is the last time”. Sadly… it isn’t. I have found ways to pack for a variety of trips. From learning (with a month and a half to spare) I would be living in Tanzania (for the same time frame), to celebrating in Cancun and Riviera Maya for one of my friends (Keiva’s) birthday. I packed at the last minute for each trip. Each time I pack I use a basic outline or mental strategy. The more I continue using this strategy, the less it is modified.

What a lucky day it is for us all, because I am going to Texas for a few weeks. So I get to actively write this out before I actually pack. FYI,  I’m currently eight days out from my trip. No pressure.

I normally do not check bags. Not (just) because I am frugal but unnecessary checked bags equate to missed flights (if I have a layover) and chaos in my head. So if I don’t have to, I won’t. Actually, I didn’t check a single bag when I went to Tanzania. There was a layover for hours in Amsterdam. I lived in Africa for about 5 weeks hand washing and rewearing my clothes. Even when it was time to return with whatever goods we purchased from market trips in the city, (struggling Kiswahili and all); We gave our books, shirts and whatever couldn’t fit in our bags, to the students at the primary school. My friend, Rachel giving me a clean, blue shirt because I wanted to see my family in something different. My ability to pack light coincides with an extremely vague mental picture of how I’ll eat, travel, and dress the day my plane departs.

The day that I am scheduled to leave I make sure I eat breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner (depending on how late my flight is). If I  don’t have much time to eat (due to an early flight), I will prepack dry snacks and place them in a compartment of my backpack. Since I never fly out of my city’s airport, everytime I fly out I am expecting other traveling adventures to the airport or a friend’s house near the airport. So I try to hold off on excess liquids, as much as possible. Constant bathroom stops could cut into any delicate schedule filled with multiple methods of traveling.

I have been going to Texas since I was very young. My father and most of my paternal side of the family are from and currently reside there. I don’t need to lookup the weather because I am pretty acclimated to the temperature range. The basics for this trip would include: toothbrush, floss, some lovely salve (my version of deodorant), tooth powder (“toothpaste”), diva cup (and pouch), bar of soap, 2 wash cloths, a Ziploc bag, undergarments (as many as my judgment sees fit), a pair of socks, sneakers, flip-flops, sandals (neutral or black), a pair of jeans, a pair of black or neutral shorts, 2 swimsuits, a dress, a pair of jean shorts, varying (colored) shirts, a light jacket, a big shirt, 2 pairs of leggings, 2 recyclable bags, 2 phone chargers, and a pair of boots (cause, Texas lol).

I will pack all of this in some type of duffel or even book bag (depending on the duration of my stay). I can place a picture below of the bag that I will definitely have packed by the time this is published and I am submerged in the warmth of H-town. I try to fold as little as possible. For example, I fold my pants together. Then fold them in half. That is all of the folding that happens. The same with my shirts. My underwear and bras are folded once and packed. In my opinion this provides me with more space where numerous folding would impede. I leave my jacket out along with the socks, sneakers or boots (whichever is heavier), my jeans, a shirt and under garments. Bam. That’s my outfit to the airport; without having to take up space in my bag and it’s enough to keep me warm on the plane.

I’ll pack a dress just in case I am invited to any religious, social, or formal events. My light jacket can double as a sweater or a rain coat and I can wear my neutral sandals with this outfit. Horseback riding is very possible. That’s why I am packing boots and jeans. Farmers markets and a lot of wandering is expected. Comfortable tennis shoes and shorts are a must. My leggings and big shirt could serve as pjs, for days when lounging around the house or if going for an evening walk is on my agenda. Because of the really warm weather, I’ll have my swimsuits and flip-flops (which could double as shower or house shoes) and jean shorts. I packed shirts varying in color. So any shirt can be matched up with my jeans, tights or shorts. I think I’ve covered why the items listed above are essential. With all of the things packed in my duffel bag I still have enough room to pack my very small, brown purse (that’s filled with my diva cup and the usual goodies that one should need) one of my chargers, AND maybe some extra dresses or rompers. Look, I’ve done all of this and this is just one bag. Remember, we can bring one personal bag and another bag to carry on the plane.

If I do not need an additional bag, I can always fold and empty book bag inside of my duffle. This way I can bring back whatever I pick up from my trip and it’ll be within my free bag requirement. Since that isn’t the case for this trip, I am still able to pack my book bag with reading and writing materials, my keys, and one of my chargers. Tyrell bought a lunch box for fresh fruits that we may need for the ride to the airport (it’s 3 and 1/2 hours away). I bought a small, plastic pouch from Five Below and unconsciously, decided to store my “personal” travel items inside. It’s big enough for my tooth-brush/case, powder, salve, soap wash cloths, floss, and the recyclable bags inside. The recyclable bags are used if where I am going doesn’t have a washer or dryer or if I am going to the pool; I could use the bags to house my clothes as I swim or wait for an opportunity to wash and dry. By the time I need to use the bags, I’ll be at my destination and the bags will be transferred to my duffel bag. If I do not need to use the bags for my clothes, I can use them for my purchases at the Farmer’s Market or grocery stores. I place my boarding passes, identification, and cellphone in my jacket pocket and zip it up. So I kind of have an idea as to where everything is and have a smaller chance of losing anything.

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The soap and wash cloths can aid if there is a spill, long flight (I want to clean my face and brush my teeth once I land), or in case of a long or unexpected layover; I can change my outfit in a stall. I can put my used wet wash cloth in the back in the Ziploc bag when I’m finished.

IMG_5157If the duration of my visit is lengthy, I make note of the important things that I have packed. This way when it’s time to leave, I will not have the “what am I missing?” feeling. Also, double check with your airline about the measurement requirements for checked bags. This information should be posted on their website. Hopefully this was of some aid to you. Enjoy and I’ll see you in Texas.

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