Well this has never happened before! It’s Sunday night and even though I don’t leave for Helsinki until Tuesday, I am already packed. I don’t mean that I piled up a bunch of crap in IKEA bags and on Tuesday morning before my flight I’ll mad-dash it into suitcases. Nope. I am packed. All I have to do is figure out which jacket to wear and charge my electronic stuff the night before.
Huh. So this is what it feels like to plan ahead and be productive. WEIRD.
As usual I started my packing with my oddly soothing ritual of lighting a candle, putting on some good music (today it was, “Alexa, play 90s pop music”) and laying piles out on a big, clean sheet on the bed. I like to gather everything in one place as I am less likely to forget stuff that way.
On this trip I’m taking only a carryon roller bag and a small backpack.
Here’s what’s going in my bag:
- An outfit for each day (Top layer, t-shirt or cami if needed, leggings)
- Undies, bra, socks
- Toiletries and personal items
- A pile of electronics — laptop, iPad, chargers, camera stuff, converters, mini tripod, lenses
- Packing cubes
- Little bags for sundries (eye mask, wet wipes, makeup, lip gloss) and hair ties
- Clear plastic bag for liquids (shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, etc.)
- Running shoes (will wrap in plastic first because I am not a savage)
- My backpack
- Notebook, paperback book, passport, a few pens
- A cross-body purse
- One handknit hat (OR MAYBE 2 ♥) and one foldable baseball-style cap
- A small folding nylon shopping bag
- Goldfish in mini cartons. This is my food-xanax in case of airline turbulence. I don’t know. It just works.
- Pre-packaged snack boxes — These are “Picnic 2Go” snacks that I got at Target. (Here is an Amazon link to the exact ones I got minus one I can’t find online: Go Picnic Ready To Eat Meals.) I’m going to be traveling at weird times and I’m not staying in an apartment and I like these snacks, they have lots of dried fruit. It will save me money by not ordering room service at midnight. Plus, on the way back I’ll have that little void in my suitcase to fill with any purchases.
- Knitting (not pictured) (I haven’t decided which projects to bring)
Over the years I have experimented with traveling ultra-light and traveling so heavy I needed a sherpa and everything in between. A lot of folks brag about their minimalist packing like there is a prize you get at the airport if you manage to cram all your stuff in a carry on. Guess what! There’s no prize. It’s just you and your stuff.
If it’s more convenient and you enjoy traveling with only a small bag, by all means do it! Usually I prefer checking my bag and traveling light in the airport. For this trip, though, a carryon bag is a good idea because I have some weird connecting flights and I’d have to re-check anyway. On my trips trips to Paris I love bringing wine and all the laundry soap back to Los Angeles, so a checked bag is the only way to go. On this trip I’m probably only bringing back the basics: yarn and candy.
Today’s packing fest was fun, figuring out just the right amount to fit into my teensy bag was like playing clothing Tetris. I was totally prepared to wear my Nikes as my only shoes because they are FLORAL and amazing and have a hot pink swoosh. But they fit fine in the suitcase and I will wear my Uggs on the plane. It’s going to be in the 50s and low 60s in Helsinki this week. Or, as us Californians call it, “extreme wintertime.”
After spending some time culling down my toiletries (always the toughest choice for me) I zipped everything into small bags and put clothes into packing cubes. Packing cubes are great for organization and general tidiness. If you have to go through a secondary screening of your bag, it’s nice to have the packing cubes so your panties aren’t getting manhandled by the TSA. These cubes on amazon are similar to the ones I use. This is the bag I use for my TSA-approved sizes of liquid items.
Et voila! My suitcase is packed and ready to go to Finland.
It looks big in the photo but it’s the standard size 22 x 14 x 9 inches. My laptop, notebook, book, liquids and in-flight necessities are packed away in my slim backpack.
Drew is always packing early and I used to make (good-natured) fun of him over it, mainly because I was jealous of his organization and planning skills. Over the past year I’ve made an effort to start the packing process early. This is the first time I’ve been completely packed early and it feels like someone should be throwing confetti at me. I keep walking up to the cats and saying LOOK, BEHOLD, FOR I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING. Aaaaand I don’t have to worry about waking up before dawn on Tuesday or staying up half the night tomorrow trying to assemble my stuff. Oh yeah. More sleep for me.
There are still some last minute tasks like charging all my electronics and picking out a knitting project. But, uh… it’s all pretty much ready for me to get on the plane. Now that I don’t have the stress of packing hanging over me, whatever will I do with my anxious energy? Is there a small municipality nearby I can annex?