Fear of Packing

How did we ever manage without Baggies?

Comments: 50

  1. Never mind the socks. Pack the Eileen Fisher. That's what Christopher Columbus told me when I was packing for my last spa vacation.

  2. Cellophane.

  3. Ziplocs are a photographer's best friend.

  4. Pack only half of whatever you plan to bring, as long as it can dry on a towel bar - and European hotels seem to have more heated towel bars than the US. And the best thing about travel now is that if you are a frequent flyer with any of the major airlines, you get TSA-pre-approval. HURRAH! You don't even have to take the plastic baggie of liquids out of your bag, can leave your shoes on, and use the faster lines.

  5. I have gotten the same treatment with the airlines the last few times I've flown too, and I'm no one's frequent flyer. Maybe because I'm now 63 and they're finally realized little old ladies are pretty harmless, and that we slow things down mightily taking shoes off and putting them back on?

  6. But they still might search your checked baggage and send it across the country with the zipper open.

  7. I obsess also, but then--just as I pull out of the driveway--let out a deep breath, and let it all go. If you've done your obsessing well, you know you're in the best shape you can possibly be.

    But a caveat as to packing socks: don't forget to throw in, no matter how hot your destination, a pair or two of WOOL (or fleece) ones. Comfy for sore, tired feet in cool, damp conditions, and a real life saver if it becomes truly cold or wet!

    The couple nights I spent in a gorgeous little town tucked into the hills of Umbria (in May, no less) a few years back when it rained for days, fog settled in, and temps at night dropped into the 40's, I raided the suitcases of my companions for any unworn wool (or fleece) items I could find.

    A pair of extra wool socks allowed me to fall asleep at night!

  8. The Diane Olberg rule of packing: Packing takes up whatever time is allotted to it. Minutes, weeks, whatever. Fun piece to read!

  9. Hannibal is right. You ARE a real adventurer, Joyce. I thought you were joking about all this bike riding stuff, but you're serious. You're impressing me to death. As for the packing dilemmas, I know very few women who don't face them, panic about what if, spend more time packing and unpacking than they should, and berate themselves over and over for indecisiveness. I am going away for five days -- and am staying with friends in a Boston suburb. But what if it gets very hot? Or cold? And they really do crank up their a/c so that my teeth chatter. You make it sound funny, but you're a humorist. I am deadly serious. I hate to pack.

  10. I hate it too. We are going on a road trip from WA to MA, stopping in OH on the way. We'll leave tomorrow and be gone most of July. I have not started packing yet. I feel it goes better if I don't have time to agonize--just do it. (Of course, car travel allows more excess than going by plane, but I use the same strategy--no strategy, other than making sure the laundry's done--when I fly,)

  11. forget packing, Susan. you stole my cat;) and she's gorgeous

  12. Martha, I carry a winter jacket with me in the summer due to bone chilling AC. I don't care if people think I'm nuts.

  13. About getting to transportation hubs before they open - in 1970's Chile, I arrived at the Santiago bus station at 4AM after a night flight from the US, but the station wasn't open for business until 6AM. It was dark outside the station, but I could make out a group of chain-smoking carabinieri by their glowing cigarettes. Not the most restful scenario, but I was so exhausted that I fell asleep anyway. I was half-surprised to wake up safely and with all my belongings intact.

  14. Baggies? Pfffff you missed a great opportunity—you had Genghis and Hannibal with you —you were struggling with the lube question and you were going on about the Baggies?

  15. I'm inclined to think -- albeit a trifle hypocritically -- that this is largely emblematic of losing perspective, of the need to chill out and realize most of these decisions don't really matter.

    Perhaps, as a specie, we simply have a need to worry in order to forestall disaster and now, for those of us who do not need to worry about where our next meal is coming from or if our offspring will be eaten by a wild animal, we transfer our sense of importance to the trivial, proceeding to drive ourselves nuts worrying about those things.

  16. If you bring the Eileen Fisher you'll spend your vacation ironing (linen wrinkles). Do what your mother always told you instead: pack extra undies. Just in case, why not throw in extra plastic bags and a few treats for any elephants you encounter along the way? Happy hill battery-powered hill climbs!

  17. Eileen Fisher had pants made of fabric other than linen and they travel well. Joyce mentioned jersey pants and they would be ideal for such a trip.

  18. I travel around the world, hike, dive and explore with my eight year old daughter and we don't use any plastic bags. As we hike, dive and explore we see lots and lots of plastics and baggies-it really is a disgrace. You don't need all that stuff, just a good plan and common sense work fine. The planet appreciates our efforts I am sure.

  19. I travel around the world, hike and explore. We travel very lightly - often with just a backpack. We use these bags all the time. We bring them all home with us and, if possible, reuse them on the next trip and the next until they fall apart. Then they go in recycling. None get left in the oceans, streams or anyplace else.

  20. How do you pack for your trips without plastic bags? I'm sure readers would like to know.

  21. How to relieve the fear of packing? Don't travel.

  22. Cheese! How on earth did cheese-loving travelers travel through cheese-producing countries without baggies? Forget the designer pants and leave room in your luggage to accumulate wondrous local foods along the way.

  23. Yes, but it's a shame that the latest version - the double zipper bag - is such a technological failure. Getting the essential feature to actually fully engage is just short of a nightmare. Instead, I have resorted to buying the superior, and far less expensive, generic, non-brand name single-zipper bags... you know, the ones that actually work! I use them, in quantity, every day.

  24. Great column! I have been using "baggies" for decades for packing, long before the TSA thought of them. Cheap and easy. I also wasn't aware of e-bikes. Cool, although pricey. And on the heavy side. Perhaps they will get cheaper and lighted as the technology develops.

  25. And everywhere - thousands of boyfriends and husbands are nodding their heads.

  26. I have an aversion to the sound of Baggies in the morning. My husband is Baggie happy when traveling, so every morning in the hotel I listen to him opening the many zippers of his compartmentalized suitcase, retrieving Baggie-filed toiletries and oddments -- crinkle, crinkle -- and zipping it all up again.

    Drives me nuts.

  27. I, too, wonder how I ever got along without baggies every time I zip the lotion, shampoo, mouthwash and other assorted liquids safely into plastic bags. How did I ever travel with the threat of an uncontained spill hanging over my head? Baggies give me peace of mind. Now if someone can come up with an invention to tell me what to pack, I'll be golden.

  28. I loved this article - great writing style! Of course, Hannibal is totally correct about traveling times...

  29. The joy of zip locks! I packed a bottle of cough medicine my last trip. The bottle was mostly finished, the cap screwed on tight, and it all poured out into the sealed zip lock I'd packed it in. Not a drop of red stickiness on my clothes, and I just poured it back into the bottle at my destination.

  30. One great trick is to make everything you pack do double duty. For example, with regard to your TMI dilemma, bikes need lube too.

  31. Umm, those are two very different types of lubricant. Not interchangeable.

  32. Not that plastic bags as travel accoutrements isn't an interesting topic, but I am hoping that you will write a column or two bout this upcoming trip. Are most of your fellow travelers younger than 30? How many miles in how many days? Do you need the lung capacity of Diana Nyad to even consider this trip?

  33. I would love to hear about the trip as well. I've read about biking the Alps with an e-bike, and it sounds fantastic, but I'm wondering how it is to ride the bike without the engine.

  34. Islystin,

    I doubt my fellow bikers will be under 30. I'm going on this trip with Road Scholar, a non-profit educational travel group that is geared to the over 50, or possibly over 60, crowd. (They used to be called Elder Hostel.) Here's the link: http://www.roadscholar.org/ The mileage is 16 to 47 miles a day. I did accompany Diana Nyad on a swim around Manhattan about 30 years ago. She was in the water, I was in a boat, and when the trip ended, I was not winded in the least. I am not an athlete; I average 8 miles an hour as a biker (serious bikers do more like 18 miles an hour) and have poor lung capacity. The only reason I am attempting the Alps is because of the E-bikes, which I test rode last fall and looked like a game changer to me. And if not, they have a follow van.

  35. Still would love to read about the trip.

  36. Nearly 30 years in the Foreign Service, my husband and I learned early "What Do We Pack" - not only for arrival at Post but the traveling we would do from that Post. For me, before each trip, with paper and pencil, I first listed each day we would be gone; I would put next to each day our 'possible' schedule of activities. From that list (and on the same paper) I noted the clothing, shoes, accessories and other items needed. Listing completed, days before departure, I laid out the suitcase items listed on my 'spare guest room bed'. It became easy to determine whether I was over- or under-packing, whether all items would fit into my suitcase and perhaps a chance to change my mind (is this REALLY necessary? do I prefer a different item). Whenever possible my travel wardrobe was made up of two colors, with perhaps a matching or colorful scarf, etc. I always traveled with one pair of reliable/comfortable walking shoes and one pair for "dress up". This schedule of traveling still remains with me. I know when I reach my destination, I have not forgotten anything and I need not schedule an immediate shopping trip for something I forgot to pack.

  37. I appreciate the lighthearted and honest insight into an aspect of your life. It comes close at times though to a trend in articles that I can't stand - glorifying our neuroses and selfish behaviors. I think you stay on the right side of the line, and there's an expected level of narcissism in any personal writing, but man, I can't stand the narrative of "I am so privileged but I have this non-problem that I'm going to overreact to wastefully and at other people's expense, then acknowledge that it's self-centered and irrational but not express any regret or insight or learning but you're welcome for writing about it!"

  38. Joyce gets away with it because she is often mocking herself, don't you think?

  39. Not really. Even her self-mocking tone has an "aren't so terribly clever?" subtext.

  40. I would wear the nicer jacket on the plane. You know how always run into someone snazzy when you're wearing your least snazzy attire. I just have trouble with a vacation involving biking. But more power to you!

  41. My advice is the more plastic shopping bags the better - great for shoes, dirty clothing, sitting on unclean surfaces, barfing - and luggage with lots of compartments (my little Briggs & Riley suitcase has so many that even the compartments have compartments and pockets).

    Dress as nicely as possible for the plane - you don't want to look like a slob. Bring a long scarf, maybe a lightweight challis, to wrap yourself in if you want to take off the jacket.

    Regarding pants for travel and dinner, you should have a 3rd pair - for variety and emergency backup.

    Bon voyage and bon appetit!

  42. After reading these comments, I suspect the use of non-biodegradable materials, like that used for baggies, will never cease...Any environmentalists out there?

  43. My teenagers are notorious "overpackers" . Yet they always have what they need for every eventuality, wear it all and look at me blankly when I say I have to shop for something I need and did not bring

  44. funny as usual, Joyce but baggies are SUCH A BLIGHT on the landfills that it's hard for me to laugh in good conscience. Obviously social responsibility is far from the thrust of your column but to encourage this glaringly irresponsible behavior however inderectly is unfortunate.

  45. Readers and writers can't move any more without a responsibility freak lecturing about some glaring social evil the writer has overlooked. Social evils are everywhere, if you look!! YES, baggies in landfills may be a problem. In relation to a nice humor piece, So What. Enjoy the writing or go away,

  46. The answer to the baggie ecological angst is to use the zipper ones, which are generally heavier, and reuse them until they fall apart. I can't work the stripey baggies, so I've been using zippers for years.

    My gray hair seems to keep me from major searches. I do, however, agree with the poster who said they'll still search your checked bag. Apparently the bierrocks I take my adult children must look like plastic explosives. One trip they opened my bag and took a bag of bierrocks. TSA lunch, anyone?

    One other piece of advice I got from a pilot friend: Do not shake your finger at or lecture the TSA guy about not smooshing the tomatoes you are trying to take in your carry on bag. Apparently, they can arrest for that sort of thing.

  47. I use a dry sack (the kind made for boating) to pack my shampoo, lotions, and goopy stuff. It is re-useable, and becomes a handy kit in the bathroom. This may reduce the need for baggies; but if a bottle is prone to leak, I wrap it in a baggie prior to placing it in the dry sack. My dry sack is clear plastic, so I can easily see where an item is located.

  48. This presumably is no help overseas, but I was surprised when I opened my AAA renewal packet and found that they include roadside assistance to bicyclists, including carting people and their bikes up to ten miles.

  49. Kat,
    I had no idea. Thank you for this.
    --Joyce

  50. Don't forget - there ARE companies that make biodegradable plastic bags - bio bags...We should just make them available everywhere. So good for packing (as well as cleaning up those doggy things...)