Packing

by Tabitha Kidwell

I only have one recurring dream: I am leaving on a trip and have to go to the airport in 20 minutes, and I realize I have forgotten to pack! So I run around the house trying to get together everything I need, while the person who is driving me to the airport keeps telling me it is time to go. I keep thinking of more things I need and more things to pack while time is ticking away.

I don’t know what this dream says about the state of my subconscious, or if it is just a reflection of how often I travel. In real life, this would never happen. I actually love to pack, and usually start packing for trips far too early. When I have a trip coming up, I will always be thinking about packing at the back of my head. While I’m on runs, I’ll think about what books to bring and what clothes to wear and how I will fit them in the suitcase. This comes as part of a greater love of organization – when other people put pictures of their children on facebook, I put picture of my newly-cleaned-out closets. I may be a little obsessed. Maybe it is my type A personality, maybe it is to stave off the threat that my recurring dream will come true. I don’t know. I just love to pack.

So, preparing for a trip to Indonesia was one of the most exciting things to happen all summer. The English Language Fellows who are returning for next year sent out a list of what to bring, and I went out and bought almost everything they recommended. I spent a significant amount of money buying everything I could think of that I might need for the next 10 months, which turns out to be a lot of stuff! I was intending to pack my bags as full as I could then just pay the baggage fees (Georgetown Univeristy, the sponsor of the program, had given us money to do so). But that was until I looked at the fees! Just to bring two bags of 50 pounds each was $60 – fine. But then overweight fees were $200 up to 70 pounds, and $400 up to 100 pounds! So I was determined to bring everything I needed with only my two 50 pound bags, a carry-on, and a laptop bag.

My first step was to divide everything into piles:

Athletic Gear. If things go well I’ll train for two marathons while I’m over there. I should probably have purchased another pair of shoes, but I’m taking 3 as it is!


Pharmaceuticals: I tell you, vitamins for 10 months are very heavy! I also bought every OTC medication I could imagine taking: Robitussin, Pepto Bisbol, Excedrin, Chloraseptic, Benadryl, Sudafed, Aleve, Immodium, Ibuprofen, Tylenol cold, Zyrtec, etc. I think the lady at the checkout thought I was crazy.


Clothes – this is the only thing I didn’t buy any more of, except for one rain jacket. I think back to my clothing in Madagascar when I was in the peace corps, and I really didn’t take that much. I was fine then, and I think I’ll be fine now. Plus, during training, it was fun to get to know the entire contents of each other’s suitcases. I’ll never forget Meghan’s purple skirt or Stacey’s green sweater!


Gifts/teaching stuff. This includes the best bargain I found – I was looking for something small I could use for gifts, and I came across boxes of 20 football & baseball silly bandz for only 49 cents! What is more American than football, baseball, and stupid fads!? I see those going over very well.


Shoes. I felt like this was a little excessive. I’m not a shoe freak. But all of these seemed necessary – I like to at least match!


Non-essential food. I don't really eat a lot of junk food, but there is something about not being able to find oreos or sour patch kids that will just make you crave them like nothing else. And when you are homesick, twizzlers and goldfish really help a lot. I once came home from the Peace Corps for a weekend (I escorted a friend on med-evac) and returned with two suitcases full of food. I just planned to fit as much of this as I could, and leave the rest for my mom to ship to me.


Essential food. Thanksgiving fixin’s. I guess Mexican thanksgiving. I just have a soft spot for Tequila.


Electronics. I do feel like this is a little excessive. My tech-addicted father and step-father have insisted on hooking me as well, and bought me, respectively, a new kindle and an iPad. What could I do, turn them down? But add to that a MacBook, iPod touch, iPod shuffle, 2 cameras (one of which my dad also gave me), and a bunch of adapters, and it just gets a little crazy. Look at all those cords!


Books. This is where I think I will get a lot of weight savings – I took probably 30 books with me to Madagascar, but I’ll read them on my kindle now. I also had people send me magazines monthly, and now I’ll read them on the iPad. I’m only taking very small or very essential books.


Kitchen stuff. American measuring cups are key, and I think the vegetable peeler, good knives, and spatulas will be put to good use! Sometimes it is hard to find good kitchen tools.


Fun stuff. If you think this is excessive, you should hear what I thought about bringing but had the will power to leave behind: a slip n’ slide, my full smurfette costume, a cheesehead, and my sequin tiara are just a few. Those elf shoes are going to be a hit this December!

Once things were in piles, I started with each pile and put the absolute most essential items in my bags, then weighed them. Still more room. So I put more stuff in. STILL MORE ROOM! So I ended up being able to fit just about everything I wanted/needed and still sneak in under the weight limit. In the end, I have bringing almost exactly my own body weight in luggage. That’s a lot of vitamins, sour patch kids, and power cords!

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5 Comments to “Packing”

  1. wow!!! You’re carrying the whole house it seems 🙂 But, I can understand, we do that pretty much.

    But, do keep in mind, some of the eatables, medicines would also be available there.

    All the best for your trip

  2. What about Set?

  3. Have you eaten the Sour Patch Kids, yet? I don’t think those would have lasted through 2 days for me!

    Miss you already!!!

    ~Erica

  4. Just wait until you get the hang of Indonesian bartering. I can’t imagine how awesome the ___???___ you get in exchange for that extra iPod and/or camera will be.

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