Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Packing it all in

I take pride in my ability to travel light.

I can journey around the South Pacific with just a small backpack to hold all the clothing, toiletries, camping equipment, and snorkel gear I need for an entire month. I can’t remember the last time I checked a bag on an airplane, and I’m a pro at washing socks in hotel sinks to avoid packing that extra pair.

So could someone please explain why I suddenly think it’s necessary to have six pairs of black shoes for a three-day writers’ conference?

I tried to justify it by reminding myself there’s fourth day in there for a “librarian speed dating” soiree the night before the conference, but it’s unlikely the organizers will require me to change shoes four times during the event.

Seriously, what the hell am I doing?

It’s not just shoes, either. I’ve caught myself tossing in sweaters and blouses, skirts and slacks – enough stuff to clothe every conference attendee if we all decided to gather in the lobby and get dressed together.

In my defense, it’s my first writers’ conference. I’m still a little uncertain about weather conditions and clothing trends or the possibility we’ll be required to switch outfits once an hour like celebrities at a televised awards show.

I know I need to go through my suitcase this morning and get serious about weeding things out. Still, what if I get there and find I just can’t leave the hotel room without my pink sweater? Or my blue one? Or my black skirt? Or—

Are you an over-packer or a light traveler? Does it vary depending on where you’re going? Please share.

I’ll be busy eyeing those jewel-crusted stilettos that lace up the leg. Maybe I still have room in the suitcase…


Anne Gallagher said...

When I went home for 4 days this summer I had to pack a suitcase before we left and ship it up there. In it I had 5 outfits, 5 pair of underwear, two pair of flops (because you can never have too many flops) and one sweater.

Before we got on the plane I stuffed the baby's duffel bag with 3 more shorts, 4 more t-shirts and 3 more pair of flops. I don't know why.

The sad part, when I got there, because we traveled between houses, I ended up wearing the same clothes the first two days we were there, and my bathing suit over shorts the last two.

Good luck with what you eventually decide to pack, but make sure you bring a sweater. The weather is changing although some places are still using A/C. Have fun.

Linda G. said...

So, these are just the black shoes you're taking, right? How about other colors? ;)

You're driving, right? So, take as much as you like--whatever makes you feel comfortable. You can always leave the extra bags in the trunk if it gets to be an embarrassing amount. :)

Shalet Jimmy said...

I was never confused what to take for I hardly travelled and loved to travel.

Touch of Ink said...

I always over pack *and* pack the wrong things, which means I have to buy the things I should have packed when I get to my destination.

I should just pack nothing, buy it all when I get there, and ship it home when I'm done. It would be easier.

I am not a shoe person. I only own two pairs of shoes. However, you may want to keep all those shoes you have packed, because chances are your feet will hurt. A lot. Changing into a different pair of shoes mid day helps with that.

Christi Goddard said...

I wear only jeans and t-shirts, and wear sandals, so packing is easy for me: x # of shirts, undies, and pants, wear universal pair shoes. Done.

I imagine if I were to ever finally be picked up by an agent and attend conferences, I'd switch to dresses for simplicity of matching. I'm very logical about that sort of thing. Fashion is not my thing, only functionality.

Matthew MacNish said...

You pose an interesting question Tawna. I too have lived out of a backpack for weeks on end, but a writing conference is an entirely different beast. As a man I'm sure I could get away with one suit, one pair of khakis and a polo, and one pair of jeans and a couple t-shirts. Two pairs of shoes would do the trick.

Then again I could probably never work up the courage to attend in the first place, so don't envy my lack of fashion/packing woes.

Andrea Coulter said...

Lol, the shoes always get me too. I tend to overpack, suffering from the 'what if' disease. So I try to limit my wardrobe to just two or three extra shirts, etc.

Sierra said...

I used to be a really bad overpacker. I would have all these possible situations in my mind, and would pack for ALL of them.

Now I have a longer process, but it helped to cut down on excess. I throw everything I think I might need or want into my suitcase, and then go through it to evaluate it all. I weed out the stuff that I really won't need, or the stuff that I don't like as much as the stuff I'm keeping, and it works.

I usually take an extra pair of underwear and an extra bra at least. Oftentimes I'll take an extra outfit, just because I'm a klutz and there's a high probability that I will need a clean pair of clothes at some time. And I try to pack so that three pair of shoes will cover everything, one of which I will be wearing for the travelling itself. This last rule is open for revision if there will be dressing up required at any point. ;)

Patty Blount said...

The last time I packed a suitcase was for our Outer Banks trip in August. I packed enough underwear, bathing suits, shorts, capris, tops and sundresses to fill 3 and a half dresser drawers and part of the closet in our room.

I wore exactly 1/4 of that stuff.

I failed to pack a light sweater or long pants and ended up wearing my husband's pajama pants for part of the week.

I suffered a terrible sunburn and hardly wore my sundresses and bathing suits.

Take 2 sweaters, 2 pairs of shoes (1 comfy and 1 hot!).

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

I'm the underpacker (sounds like "undertaker")... and in the space I use to pack my own and my two kids' things, my husband can't pack his own stuff (he's the "overpacker"). We laugh about it every trip, for his bags are always stuffed. He takes a full suitcase even for a weekend trip to his mom's, packing 7-10 changes of clothing (and, really, do guys have that many clothing options?)...

Trisha Leigh said...

Overpacker. It's a sickness I care not to cure.

Except trips to the lake. I'm good with three swimsuits, some coverups, pajamas, shampoo, books, and laptop. What else do you need?

Kadi Easley said...

I can pack for a six month job in one big suitcase and a backpack. When I go to a writer's conference I usually end up with multiple bags and a few things tossed into the car at the last minute just in case I need them.

This last time for Killer Nashville, I packed one outfit for each day and something awesome for the awards dinner. I managed to get everything in one small bag, but I had shoes tucked in and around everything. Three day conference, six pairs of shoes. :) I wore two of them.

Unknown said...

It completely depends. Doesn't everything depend in this life? It seems silly that some things can't have a solid answer.
Ok here is some of my ramblings on this topic:
1. Backpacking: PACK AS LIGHT AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!!! You have to pack it all in on your back so light is best. Only the essentials. Get a good light weight pack too. Mine is less than two lbs. Best purchase that I ever made.
2. Other trips: ie: to a friends, international etc... Light is not my strong point but I sure try. I think that the hard part for me is packing toiletries. I have to have my essentials while gone. I just feel better having them all. If I am going somewhere nearby, I tend to take my pillow and my blanket and muliptle pairs of clothing just in case. If I am going international, then I pack lighter, planning on doing laundry in the sink. I still seem to overpack though.

I guess that if I am trying to make a good impression like you with your writing conference then I might pack heavier.

I hope that this made sense. What makes complete sense to me is that now I am etching to do some more traveling so that I can enjoyably pack a suitcase or backpack knowing that it will accomany me to a brilliant and fun place.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

I am a last second, stuff whatever's closest into the bag packer. This rarely works out well, especially because I then realize the two shirts and one pair of jeans I REALLY REALLY needed are in the laundry and I don't have time to wash them. I did such a crappy job of packing for my recent trip to the Pendleton Roundup I had to wear a white shirt to a ten hour rodeo slack. By noon I had Pepsi dribbled down my chest, by two I looked like the 'before' picture of one of those little kids in a Clorox ad. Gah.

Colene Murphy said...

Over packer here. I'm totally having the same sort of problem this week. Can't seem to narrow down my liquids to fit in that stupid lil plastic bag.
And you never know about cloths, just because you're prepared to wear that outfit today doesn't mean you will be this weekend. That is my justification for packing 6 shirts, 5 jeans, and 3 pairs of shoes for one weekend anyway.

Danica Avet said...

I'm with you. Normally, I can go anywhere with a duffel bag or a backpack, but when it comes to conferences, I bring enough clothes to last for weeks. I have no idea why. For Nationals, I brought so many clothes I didn't even wear them all and that was with me changing twice a day!

The only things I can't do without that almost require a bag on their own are my straightener, dryer, shampoo, soap, deodorant (because I'm OCD about deodorant), make-up and lotion. I have to have those items or I'll foam at the mouth.

Julie Weathers said...

Don't let Kari fool you. She looked wonderful at RMFW.

I pack an outfit for each day and a spare in case I fall in the pool or something. I try to pack related colors so jewelry matches and I can swap out pieces if I need to. I cannot stress enough, pack clothes and shoes that are comfortable.

Jeffe Kennedy said...

I overpack and I'm at peace with it. Like you, I dress to mood and I know there's the possibility I won't *want* to wear what I brought. Writing conferences are fraught enough without feeling like you're wearing the wrong outfit. I think of it as preserving heterogeneity in my wardrobe - leads to greater survival of the species!

Anonymous said...

The need for all those shoes is because most walking is done crossing halls between workshops and standing/chatting during short breaks. Occasionally there is an elevator ride between floors, then there is the standing in line for cappuccino.

The rest of the time is spent sitting, pack a tush cush.

The weather is a huge concern because as a veteran of many conferences I've learned I never leave the hotel (even when I have more shoes and jackets in the trunk of my car in the parking lot). There is a temperature variance of about 5 degrees from small room to big lobbies.

Susan Spann said...

The shoes might have to go, but speaking from experience - I went to RMFW's conference in Denver earlier this month and took eight different outfits for a four-day stay. Now, in my own defense, one of those was the mandatory "because you WILL spill coffee/tomato sauce/wine/chocolate or all-of-the-above down the front of at least one outfit and need a replacement (Writer, Know Thyself). One more was to ensure that I had a backup for the backup. Beyond that...yeah, not quit sure what happened except that I'm so paranoid I should be twins.

Let yourself take a few extras, just in case. As for the shoes, though - I only took two pairs, the sandals I wore on the plane and the black sneakers I wore the rest of the conference (yeah, even the fancy dinner, I figured anyone looking at my feet under the banquet table could deal with it). You might want to be slightly less extreme than that, but definitely plan to dress in layers (the conference rooms can get really hot and really cold) and otherwise just have a fantastic time!!

Unknown said...

Usually, i just pack two pairs of everything in the clothing sense.

Although, when it comes to keeping myself entertained for a couple days, I usually pack 20 different (thick) books for light reading, Pen and paper for writing, more paper and a pencil for drawing, some sort of puzzle book for when I'm bored and some homework (if any) for after.

Needless to say, the Homework never gets touched.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I used to be an overpacker but now I'm not quite so bad. And some advice: dress in layers. That way, if the room is cold, you're fine. If the room is hot, remove a layer and you're fine.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

I'm pretty good at packing light. I can go away for a week with a carry-on bag. The key for things like shoes is finding ones that work with multiple outfits.

Nice boots. :)

Lindsay said...

I should be a professional packer by now, but I can't get away from my big suitcase no matter what. I need options, I tell you! OPTIONS!

Dr. Goose said...

I used to take so long to pack that Daisy starting doing it for me and I would just deal with it.

I found it much easier to blame her for not packing appropriately than myself.

Terry Stonecrop said...

When I travel by car, I overpack. By plane, I go lightly.

Weather makes a big difference. I mean boots or sandals? One needs to know. For a conference, the black pumps look right:)

Claire Dawn said...

I'm both. I take the same amount for 3 days as I do for 3 weeks. lol.

Anonymous said...

Why was there no pic of the jewel-crusted stilettos that lace up the leg? Hmm?

Er...never mind. Just thinking out loud here.

Also, I'm a man. My packing involves tossing a change of underwear or two in a bag, followed by one pair of pants and a shirt I may or may not press in the hotel room. And that's for a three week trip.


Thanks so much to everyone for all the lovely comments! My apologies, but I'm going to kind of suck at replying to comments for the next couple days as this conference consumes all my free time. Rest assured, I'm reading and loving them all and really appreciate seeing such great discussion here!


Anonymous said...

Boots! I love those boots.