It’s Not a Sin to Check a Bag
June 2, 2014
Why I Struggle to Pack Light...and I'm OK with that
My teeny tiny entryway closet is overflowing. Despite my various racks, shoes spill out. They take up space in my spare room closet. They lurk under my desk at work. Sometimes they stowaway in my car. There may even be a pair or two hiding in my suitcase. Each pair serves a purpose. Sensible, flat boots for walking on icy parking lots. Sky-high patent heels for fancy dinners out. Hiking boots for wooded trails. Red Mary Janes for the office and Converse sneakers for the weekend. For me, shoes are more than just sensible things to protect my feet from the elements. They’re a way for me to show my personality. They can instantly change the vibe of a whole outfit. I love little more than a unique, fun pair of shoes.
When I was younger my dad used to call me Imelda. Despite that, my shoe addiction didn't really get going until university when I came to terms with the fact that I was 5’9, was always going to be 5’9, and that was ok. I didn't have to restrict myself to only flat shoes because I was taller than my classmates. Boys started to catch up in height and I discovered high heels. It was like a whole new world.
As a travel blogger I read a lot about travel. Every week there’s some new article about packing. The joys of fitting your life into a 40L sack. Being able to travel the world with just a tiny backpack is seen as the holy grail. I'm a packing failure when I can’t pare down my selection to fewer than 6 pairs for a 10 day trip. Flat boots, TOMS, black flats, nude heels, hiking sneakers and flip flops. Shoes are a pain to pack. They can be bulky and awkward (especially heels) and sometimes heavy.
People will tell you to just take one or two pairs. I routinely disregard this advice. On my first trip to New York City I packed the way I thought I was supposed to: a small selection of t-shirts, a couple pairs of jeans and the brown Sketchers on my feet. It wasn't how I normally dress and just wasn't me. I felt frumpy and unstylish. After a week in nothing but those shoes I never wanted to see them again. I just can't seem to pack light. And that's ok.
The wonderful thing is that we don’t all have to be the same. There’s room for all packing types. I grumble about it but I'm never so budget-conscious that I won't pay $25 to check my full-sized suitcase. And I'm never in such a hurry that having to wait 15 or 20 minutes to pick up my suitcase ruins my day. Sure, sometimes it can go missing, but I've learned to prepare for those situations too.
I'd love to have less stuff to schlep from airport to hotel but I've learned by now that being a minimalist packer is just not how I roll. I think the main thing, when you’re packing for a trip, is to pack in a way that will make you happy at your destination, whatever that means for you. If that means bringing 10 bikinis for your week down south or if it’s half a dozen books for your road trip or bringing along your stuffed bear Oris. On the other end, if you get joy out of moving from suitcase to backpack to day bag, more power to you.
My goal now is to only pack the things I really like and feel good in. I include enough variety so that I don’t get bored. I make sure that all tops and bottoms go with multiple items. I layer, accessorize and find items that will do double duty. I also do my best to leave some room in the suitcase for inevitable vacation shopping...and half a dozen of my 70 pairs of shoes.