Today's post is not so much a lesson learned as a discovery made.
I am, even if I say so myself, rather good at packing bags for travel. Even when cycling from home to Rome carrying all the necessities on the back of our bicycles, I still had room to spare, and unworn clothes when we reached Rome (this was on purpose, as one needs to fare la bella figura in Italy).
For me, the trick turned out to be deciding what was essential (money, passport, phone, tooth brush and paste, deodorant and a spare set of underwear) and reminding myself that anything else could be bought upon arrival. Or even at the airport before leaving. I have not worried about packing since.
The discovery came after I had children: I still do not worry about packing. I was fully expecting to have to lug a household's worth of goods every time I decided to move myself two inches, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. Grab the diaper bag. Grab the kid. Leave. (Now that the kids have to physically move themselves while wearing SHOES AND UNDERWEAR things are different. But that has nothing to do with packing bags.)
For longer haul travelling, I employ the same trick as before. I look up our destination, figure out what we absolutely need to survive, pack that, and relax.
Of course, I do a bit of packing after the essentials (in case you're interested: money, passport, phone, tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, spare set of underwear, two spare sets of clothing each for the children, diapers, sleeping bag and lovey for Big Boy). You know, like swim suits, swim goggles, some toys, a dress, a skirt here and there - I'm not setting myself up for a clothing hunt through a Bali tourist shop when we could be lying on the beach. I'm just saying, if it comes to that, we'll survive and it'll be an adventure.
My mother used to sigh and ask why I had to dress like a homeless person (this was the age of grunge) but it has left me with a underdeveloped sense of the importance of looking nice. This works out well when the goal is to pack 'n relax. (Except in Rome. Because when in Rome.)
But what if you travel from tropical Singapore to cold Europe? The same rule still applies, it's just that the essentials include one set of warm clothes for each person. And you might want to look into shoes and snow suits (reminder to self: look into shoes and snow suits). But other than that: you're good to go.
In fact, once I showed up at an airport without a passport or an airplane ticket, and the Dutch Marechaussee very kindly issued me an emergency passport after which the airline people found my ticket in their reservation system and off I went on my holiday*. So arguably, the only thing you really need to pack is a tooth brush and clean underwear.
But mostly, I have not had to go emergency shopping, or handwash in hotel bathrooms. Usually, we pack what we need, we use what we pack, and we all go home happy. Pack the essentials, pack everything else on the list, check the essentials, do not think, do not question, check the essentials, leave.
This Thursday we're off on to another tropical island and I have promised Blondie she could pack her own bag.
*It also involved making a police report, and included a healthy dose of panick, and a tiny airport located a 15 minute cycle from my house, and I strongly advise anybody against trying this themselves.