Posted in Travel

Packing Pro

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~Susan Heller

I’m supposed to be writing about Travel Destinations in Montana. Clearly I’m not. I promised myself I’d turn in my 17 Montana articles by the end of today–but hey, it’s only four in the afternoon, there’s still some of “today” left, and my mind is entirely (and agreeably) occupied with my own packing list for this week’s excursion into the Idaho mountains…

Arguably my favourite iPad app is the “Packing Pro,” with its enticing icon of a stickered suitcase and my customized packing lists for various types of trips (“day-trip on a writing assignment,” “travelling with the kids”)… My globe-trotting dad always said that anticipation and reminiscence are as important to the overall experience of a trip as the travelling itself—and the delicious sense of anticipation that accompanies the act of creating a new packing-list only confirms his observation. What does this journey call for when it calls to me? Fishing tackle. My turquoise prayer-beads. The A.A. “Big Book” (we’ll be in company of some other recovering alcoholics, and a Meeting in the Mountains is on my wish-list). Flannel shirts. Mountain maps. A picnic blanket.

My mother is the original packing pro. Before her Girl Scout trip to England when she was sixteen, her troop brought in an airline stewardess (yes, they were “stewardesses” then) to give the girls packing tips, and I’m here to vouch for the efficacy of the lesson; the woman can pack a suitcase no man can lift! For our six-month road-trip through Europe when I was ten, she managed to pack for all four of us (doll clothes, kitchen supplies, camping gear, and mix-and-match red-white-and-blue wardrobes for my sister and me) in just five suitcases. She sent ahead caches of English-language books for us, but aside from the reading material, four of us lived for six months out of those suitcases. Bravo, Mother! My own pinnacle of packing feats was for a two-month visit to the Philippines when my son was a year old—necessities for three people, baby paraphernalia, porta-crib, mosquito netting, more than 200 diapers, and a “first-aid kit” that could have rivalled a small pharmacy, all crammed into two medium-sized duffels. My mother and I are probably responsible for the weight-limits now imposed by airlines on checked luggage.

Tomorrow’s trip will be by car, though, so there’s no limit on the weight of my luggage, or on my imagination. Nor need we worry about Regina Nadelson’s observation that “Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage.” :)

Ha, an amusing side-note… My spell-checker is currently set to “UK English” because my travel-destination articles are at the behest of a UK car-rental agency (or as they say, “car hire” agency)… I’ve only just noticed the automated fixes of words above like “favourite”—but I think I’ll leave them. A snapshot of today’s projects…

old suitcase


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

16 thoughts on “Packing Pro

  1. This post gives me itchy feet. Spellchecker: What a bugger that can be. I write my stories using two computers in two locations. Mine is set to U.K spellchecker; the other (not mine – naughty old me) is automatically on US. What conflicts I get each time I spellcheck. Do we really speak the same languague? Oddly though – my books ONLY sell in North America.


    1. Sometimes I wonder about that (the “same language” question)… When I started writing these articles, my dad sent me an email of what he remembered of British jargon from his UK travels:

      Overpasses are flyovers, rest stops are laybys, the car hood is the bonnet and the trunk is the boot…. what we call French fries are chips, and what we call chips are crisps. People watch the telly. As I recall, what we call cookies are biscuits, and what they call cookies are young girls. This could get interesting. I’m sure Mother will have plenty to add from her experiences in the UK as a Girl Scout (make that Girl Guide). One of my favorites: near factories with lots of traffic, the signs say ‘heavy plant crossing.’ I always had visions of shrubs dashing across the road. :-)

      Fun with language! :)


  2. We have three kids (+ dog) and would like to adhere to the rule of three – you wearing one, one’s in the wash and there’s one that’s clean. With five people on any trip, this works if you’re close to the laundry, but it’s better to have a fourth. When it’s just me and Hubs, or me, Hubs & one kid – I follow the quote!
    “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~Susan Heller
    With kids, just give them your money, they take it all anyway.


  3. Love your opening quote! When I was about 13, I was given “Ms Piggy’s Guide to Life” and there are quotes in there I actually use, one being “When in doubt, pack it”. (However, this was before weight limits). I have learned to roll & fold things into tiny little “oragamie”-ish things to fit. Thanks so much for stopping by, i’m looking forward to reading more from you as well!


  4. Nice. Packing is definitely one of the most crucial traveling skills. I’d like to say I’m fairly good at it; I always seem to use most of what I bring, and rarely leave something important behind (except for that one time I forgot all of my socks!). But no matter how easy the packing job may be, it always seems to take way longer than I think it should. I’ll spend hours packing, repacking, and analyzing everything in my rucksack. That must be part of the anticipation, eh?

    Cool blog! You definitely THRIVE in every sense of the word. I’m glad you enjoy mine as well. I read that you went to the Philippines. Maybe check out this post when you get a free minute:



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