Packing, optimizing, and satisficing

I’m off on a two-week trip that happens to be broken by an 18 hour stop at home. (Nodevember, North Bay Python, SpringOne Platform, LaunchDarkly writing sprint). Every couple months, I try to clean out my bags entirely, get rid of the trash that accumulates, make sure that I have room for all the new fidget spinners, that sort of thing. This time I thought I’d share what it is I take along.

In summary, if you are at a conference with me and need Imitrex, Immodium, condoms, period supplies, emergency protein, or stickers, I’m your gal.

My two carry ons contain:

Knitting, Kindle, J-shaped travel pillow, passport, 3 pairs reading glasses, work laptop, iPad and bluetooth keyboard, chargers for micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning (long cords), foot hammock, noise-cancelling earbuds, 1 week prescription meds, pads and tampons, 3 protein bars, M&Ms, 5 lipglosses, 3 lipsticks, 2 powerbanks with built-in cords, fidget cube, business cards, stationary and note taking stuff, stickers, Gaviscom, Imitrex, cold meds, fidget spinner, USB condom, bluetooth headset, various OTC meds, various as-needed prescription meds, USB keys, HDMI adapter, presentation kit (bluetooth clicker, Lightning to HDMI and VGA adapters), lens-cleaning cloth.

This is what I put in my carry-on size suitcase, besides clothes.

Stuffable down lap blanket (I know, hotel rooms are supposed to be whatever temp I want, but that is not how it actually works), umbrella, toiletries, packable sunhat, pillowcase, microfiber towel, razor, q-tips, travel clothesline, travel humidifier, pads and tampons, sticker stash, 4 more protein bars, rollable water bottle, condoms (latex and non), lube, pens, cold meds, more Imitrex, jewelry, packing cubes.

For this trip, I packed 6 pairs of socks (easy to get more), 3 pairs of tights, 4 pairs of under-skirt shorts, 14 pairs underwear, 4 dresses, 2 t-shirts, 1 skirt, 1 pair of alternate shoes, 1 packable backpack. I also have a company hoodie, a Columbia jacket shell, and a knitted scarf. With that, I’m good for any temperature down to 25 F for periods of up to half an hour, which is sufficient for work-travel needs.

I’m a sex-ed teacher. I’m never going to not carry condoms. I have given away a surprising number. Pro-tip – a lot of hotels will also bring them to you if you ask, but they may not carry the non-latex kind.

You can also deduce that I sometimes feel food-insecure while I’m traveling. As a supertaster, spicy food is physically painful for me. New Orleans was full of unpleasant surprises (who makes mac and cheese SPICY?!). I can usually get raw calories from desserts and salads, but I still need protein, so I carry it. You can see that I get migraines, especially when I travel. That’s a large part of why I’ve given up drinking when I travel, but even with that adaptation, I still need access to effective meds. The pillowcase and towel are because sometimes my hair is not colorfast, and it’s rude to stain white pillowcases and towels Heidi-colored. I don’t use all this stuff every time — the sunhat and umbrella are seldom for the same desination, but it’s more efficient than trying to remember and predict what I’ll need.

I also have an extensive collection of transit cards from different cities (NYC you are such a disappointment). I think I’m going to start keeping them in the backpack so I don’t have to remember which ones I want to grab.

Could I be more efficient, get it down to one carry-on and one suitcase? Sure I could. The thing is, I have status now so my bag and I usually make it to the carousel at the same time, and it’s free. So I don’t mind checking it. And the travel advice that is super super minimalist assumes that you’re going to be able to solve a lot of problems by throwing money at them. I’m not paying a hotel $4 to wash a pair of underwear. I’m not always staying in the kind of hotel where someone will bring you toothpaste, condoms, robes, or full-size humidifiers. Sometimes not even the kind of hotel where room service goes past midnight. This is my compromise for staying sane and healthy when I’m travelling. It’s a little more stuff, but nothing I haven’t found useful.

When I get home December 19, I don’t have to go anywhere until mid-January. I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it!