Packing Practice

We’re off to the UK for a month in December. The flights are booked, the accommodation is booked, the car is booked, Christmas dinner is booked. We’ve even booked some other activities that required pre-booking.

That in itself is a big thing for me – when we travel, I normally like to have the big-ticket items covered and then leave the day to day entirely to chance. ‘What are we doing today Mum?’ is what’s usually heard at breakfast. Sure it means that sometimes we miss out on things we should have booked, but it also means that it leaves the schedule open in case something else interests us.

I do the same when it comes to writing – have a broad structure or storyline, and then fly by the seat of my pants within that. Sometimes no one is more surprised than I am at the way the story turns out.

It stands to reason, then, that I’m not a person who packs in advance. I’ll get the washing done and have the structures in place for the packing to happen but will generally leave it to the last minute. And no, I don’t pack to a list, although Grant is already saying things like, ‘we need to remember to take (insert important item here) so better add it to the list.’ He knows full well that the list doesn’t exist.

Normally, regardless of whether we’re away for a weekend, a week or a month, I’m a pack the morning we leave type of girl – unless, that is, we have to be at the airport at stupid o’clock, in which case I’ll do it before going to bed the night before.

The tightest I’ve ever cut it was the morning I was flying to Hong Kong for work for the week. We were having our kitchen taken out that week and I had a freelance article due as well. I spent the weekend unpacking and emptying the kitchen, finished the article on Monday morning and pressed “send” on that just as my boss rang to say he was leaving his house to come and collect me – at which point I pulled the suitcase down and began throwing in clothes. When he pulled up in our driveway 20 minutes later, I was zipping it up. And I forgot nothing except HKD…but then so had he and we had enough – if we pooled our cash reserves – to get 2 tickets on the train from the airport into the city when we arrived so no harm was done.

My point is, I’m used to working to deadline and I’m comfortable with last minute. Mostly too, it works for me. My biggest packing disasters have been when I’ve packed in advance – that’s when I tend to forget things. 

That’s why when Grant told me this morning that I had to be packed for England a whole 3 days before our flight out, I was not only horrified, but rendered unusually speechless.

Three. Whole. Days.

Sure, he’s been prattling on about what he calls “practice packs” on the basis that we’ll be packing for 4 weeks in cold weather, but I laugh that off saying that we have a washing machine everywhere that we’re staying so don’t have to physically pack 4 weeks worth of clothes and can, therefore, travel as lightly as we usually do without need for a “practice pack”. Perish the thought. Besides, how cold can it be? #famouslastwords

Then he reminded me of the logistics of this trip. Rather than leaving from Brisbane we’ll be flying out of Sydney so we can spend some time with my parents before Christmas. At the time of booking we also thought that we’d be driving down with the dog too, but thankfully now have some friends house-sitting (and dog-loving) instead. You have no idea how relieved I am about that.

Anyways, because he wants to drive rather than fly down (don’t ask – it has to do with airfares, luggage, Christmas presents etc) Grant and Sarah will be leaving at the crack of dawn on the Saturday morning to do the 1000-odd kms. I’ll be staying behind to hand over to our house-sitters and will fly down on the Sunday before leaving for England on the Monday. 

This means the car needs to be packed by Friday night – which means that we need to be packed, the Christmas presents we’re taking to Sydney need to be packed, and the summer clothes we’ll be spending the weekend in and will need for our return to Australia need to be packed. Three days before we fly out.

I’ve planned the rest of this holiday, researching the best places to stay, the best prices and options for cars. I’ve noted the pubs that are open during the public holidays, the prettiest villages to visit, where we can buy local cheese and other produce. I’ve printed our itinerary and expenses and know exactly what is left to pay and by when. Yet this simple little thing – packing in advance – has sent me into an absolute spin. And we’re still 6 weeks away from leaving. He, on the other hand, is so smugly satisfied that for once I have no choice but to be prepared in advance.

If I’m not careful, the next step is packing to a list…It’s a slippery slope.

I’d love to know – what sort of a packer are you? Do you like to be organised in advance or toss a few things into a backpack at the last minute? What about lists? Yay or nay?

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

18 thoughts

  1. Jo, after living out of a suitcase for over three years, I laughed reading your post. Even after all our years of long haul flights back and forth from here to Europe, I don’t think we ever got it completely “right”.

    Enjoy your month in the UK.

      1. It sure is. I’d hate it if he were any other way & I’m sure he’d say the same. It gives us both something else to laugh about.

    1. I figure as long as there are laundry facilities who needs a lot of luggage? You’ve only got to carry it and repack it etc & life’s too short for that when you’re on holiday!

  2. Jo I’m impressed with how much you’ve already organized. I would think the suitcase packing would be a walk in the park in comparison. I mean the worst that can happen is that you have to buy a few things over there (great mementos of the trip). I love that you’re so casual about it all – I’d definitely be on the way to making a list (and checking it twice) by now!

  3. I can’t wait to hear about your trip later, Jo.

    In my head, I’m an organized packer. I write a list days before I travel. I also keep several things like toiletries ready to go in my suitcase. The problem is, I always randomly add things at the last minute. I’m no better at streamlining despite the practice I’ve been giving myself…

    SSG xxx

  4. Sorry Jo, I am on team Grant. For this one in particular. I not only practiced packed for my one and only OS trip, I did a practice drive to the International Terminal as I had only ever been to the domestic one. I am a list maker, and it has paid dividends over and over. Power boards, international cables, spare chargers…so important!!

    1. I keep spare power supplies in a little calico bag ready to just pick up – I’m used to packing in a hurry for Sydney, but nope, I’m not a list maker…or rather if I make lists I forget to look at them…which is sort of the same thing.

  5. Jo – your post has given me anxiety! lol I could never pack the morning of the day I am leaving [insert a shocked face emoji here]! I also need a list! I feel much better with a list. It’s out of my mind and on paper and it helps me feel organised and in control. I also enjoy ticking things off as they are packed. I don’t pack WAY in advance though but definitely the day before. However, I’ve never done a big long European vacation or anything. If I ever do, I may pack several days in advance (apart from the last minute stuff that has to go in). On a side note – I think you got the better deal with welcoming the housesitters and catching a plane south! #TeamLovinLife

  6. Oh Jo, you’ve been reading my mind! My husband announced that we’d be visiting his mother for a few days before flying to England and so I’ll have to pack two bags, one for the few days beforehand and then my main bag. I feel your pain and I really enjoyed reading your post. I was clever when I was over there in August and bought a jacket on sale and left it and a few other things with my daughter in readiness for the cold weather. I’m spending a lot of time soaking up the warm sunshine at the moment before we leave. You do sound very organised and I’m impressed 🙂

    1. Aaah you thought ahead leaving some things over there. Yep, I’m about as organised as I’m likely to be! Just the Christmas shopping to go…

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