Are you sitting down? Because you might not believe what I'm about to tell you... I packed early. The Princess of Procrastination, Last Minute Becky, has done something in advance. In fact, I'm so close to being fully packed that I'm wearing the same few outfits all week because the rest of my clothes are either rolled or space-bagged and surrounded by hair products and jars of peanut butter.
Yes, I'm taking my own toiletries, even though you can find all of those things at the local Carrefour.
I know I'm not going to a third-world country -- this isn't Nicaragua, there are stores and modern conveniences -- but I have a horrible fear of getting all the way to Eastern Europe and wishing I'd thrown in that ______. Needless to say I've done some sacrificing of excess items, or shall we say "down-sizing," to get everything into my two pieces of luggage. It wasn't easy, but I had to make room for a box of Bisquick (no fluffy biscuits in Europe). And believe it or not, thanks to these sacrifices, my biggest and heaviest bag weighs in at only 49 lbs. Yep, I'm a pro.
Packing Tip: It's good to take things you'll need/want, but let's face it, my scarf collection would need it's own suitcase. The best way I've found to "down-size" is to set limits for myself. For example, I can only take as many pairs of socks as will fit inside the shoes I'm taking, and only the scarves that will fit in the front pocket of my suitcase. I'm especially proud of this handy sewing kit I put together from a much bigger one I already had. I limited myself to only the things that fit inside a Nutella jar, which I saved from my last trip to Romania (slightly bigger than the ones you find in U.S. stores). Clever, eh? So next time adventure calls, you know what to do -- set some boundaries, folks.
To make things easier, I've compiled a series of questions to ask myself when making a packing list:
1. Do I need, want, or use it enough that I would be inconvenienced or uncomfortable without it?
2. Will I be able to purchase this item where I'm going, and will I be there long enough to make it worth doing so?
3. Is this something that I will need immediately when I reach my destination? If so, could I pack a smaller amount to use until I can buy more?
4. If I must pack this item (or category of items, such as underthings and hairpins), do I really need a large quantity, or can I get by with only a selection? This is a good time to consider whether or not I will be able to do laundry or reasonably replace lost/broken items.
5. Finally, is this an item that I will only use once or a few times during my trip? If so, can I substitute something that will be more versatile? (For example, I want to take my Moccasins, but I only wear them in hot weather with certain outfits. Instead, I'm taking brown flats that I can wear year-round with almost anything.)
Favorite Pink Teddy Bear: Definitely going.