My carry-on suitcase is dusty, but happy. With music playing softly in the background, I empty out the remnants of the last time I’d been traveling, the few stray toiletries that I didn’t need, the necklace that had fallen out of its gift box, the random bits of paper…god knows where those came from. Then, I wipe out all the compartments, and outsides. It had been sitting under my bed for several months, after all. Once that is finished, I begin packing.
Finding it cumbersome, I usually don’t bother checking a suitcase, since I can often get all that I need into one carry-on. I tend to begin with clothes, simply because they take up the most space, and that’s what I’ve got to pack the most of. I start by looking at the weather. Where I’m going, it’s going to be wet, and cold, but not so cold that I should need snow things. This is what I’m going to base my packing on.
Reaching into my closet, I find the rain boots I rarely ever use, and plop them at the bottom, arranging them so that one is nested into the curve of the other. This makes them flat, and though it means they cover a bit more of the bottom, it’s easier to pack over a lot of semi flat things than a big bulge. Then, I get out my multipurpose, black flats, and set them at the foot of my bed. Coats go in next. My good, thick one goes on top of my flats, a medium sweater gets folded and placed into the bag. Next, I rifle my closet. I just pulled all my laundry out of the machine, so I know all my clothes are at my disposal.
Setting aside a comfortable, long black dress on top of the pile for flying in, I begin looking at the rest of my stuff. Whenever I go anywhere, I like to bring some casual clothes, some comfortable things that can be dressed up or down, and one really, really nice outfit. For me, that means two sweater dresses, a pretty velvet black dress, sweat pants and a soft top, two pairs of pajamas, a skirt and blouse, a couple extra non-de script plain pairs of pants, and three sets of leggings.
I count out, and slide under things and socks into a side compartment, along with a plastic bag for dirty laundry. I fold all the clothing items, and put half of them in the bag. Then, I go to the kitchen and get the two loaves of bread I baked to give to a family member. They’ve been wrapped with a few layers of tinfoil, and stood upright into a sturdy Tupperware, taped closed about six different ways. This gets nested in the middle of my clothes. I shape the other clothes into an indent around it, then put the remaining clothes on top, pressing them in around the sides.
Next, a bluetooth keyboard gets propped down the side of the suitcase. For my board, the suitcase cradles it nicely, preventing it from sliding or taking up horizontal space in the bag. On top of everything, I set my braille note taker, nestling it into one corner of my bag, keeping some extra room for stuff I decide to grab when I leave tomorrow morning.
That done, I turn to the bathroom. Taking the reusable travel bottles that I got last Christmas from there hiding place under the sink, I carefully fill a bottle with shampoo. Then, I find the travel sized containers of both my leave in conditioner, and my lotion that I bought specifically for this trip. Grabbing the bar of soap from the shower, I drop the whole mess into a zip lock. Taking the small toothpaste and toothbrush from my counter where I’d already set them the night before, I go back to the bedroom, and zip everything into an outside pocket. Now, except for my laptop, my carry on is done, and I usually don’t add that until just before I leave. So, it’s time to pack my purse.
My purse is very different from my carry on. It contains things that I want with me at all times. I wish that I had room for my bread in it, but it’s far too small, so clothes will have to do what they can. Into the front card slot of my purse, I slip my passport card, so that it’s easy to get to, and not in danger of falling out. Next, I put 2 extra iPhone cables, 2 bricks, a backup battery, and 2 micro USB chords. Then, I put a pair of wired earbuds in. My apartment keys go into a front pocket, alongside a small zip lock of snack mix. when I leave, I’ll put my phone in the back pocket, closest to me and easy to get to. In the back of my phone case, I insure I have my debit and credit cards, my student ID, and my new bus pass. Last, I top my purse off with a small bag of worry stones, a personal habit of mine.
Practically every bag I have has a few soft, smooth, interestingly shaped stones. They can serve as ways to remind me of what, and who I am, can act as inspiration for stories, or just things to fiddle with if I’m bored. I don’t end up using them often, but when I do, they’re usually helpful in unexpected ways.
Last, I unzip my carry on, and add my laptop and its charger, right on top so that I can easily remove it for security. As an afterthought, I add a USB stick and SD card to another front compartment, then give the whole mess a pat.
Now it’s time for the last steps. I make sure to plug in my phone, and my bluetooth headset, both of which will be essential to the trip. Then, I take care of all the airport business, and start to double check that I’ve gotten everything. I usually forget pajamas, tooth paste, and socks. Thankfully, I’ve got all these things that time, but I forgot my hairbrush, and extra hair ties. I add these to the compartment with the toiletries.
In the very front, I slip in a tile. A tile is a bluetooth tracker that lets you activate the device with an app, telling it to play a sound. It also allows you to track its location. On the off chance either my suitcase ends up in checked bags after all, or someone makes off with it, Tile allows me to find my suitcase independently, or report its last seen location to the police. I’ve never had to do that latter, but the former is a scenario I’ve experienced often.
I then make sure my fridge is empty of all things that are mine. Finding a few things I know I won’t be able to eat in time, I knock on a few apartment doors next to mine. Finding no takers, I throw the food away. It was only a head of lettuce, a few garlic cloves, and some lasagna that was already about to go bad.
Returning to my apartment, I make sure that I put the keys back in their places, everything’s plugged in, the fridge is empty, and the house is clean. I find some grime in the bathroom and on my desk, and take care of it. then, I put on some ambient sounds, and go to sleep, glad that my feet won’t be leaving the ground until tomorrow and hoping I haven’t already forgotten something. This thought makes me wake up a little, and I know I won’t be able to sleep until I’ve made sure everything’s accounted for. Sleepily, I set a reminder to go off tomorrow morning, reminding me to take one more check of my house. Then, with packing day ending and everything jammed where it belongs, I pass out.