Fun fact, everyone: packing is just as not fun as you remember.
Traveling overseas, staying for four months and knowing that you’ll have to do (and carry!) everything by yourself certainly doesn’t help, either.
No matter the destination, the process for me always seems to start a little something like this:
Wait, I can’t bring every pair of shoes I own? But they’re so pretty and obvi I’m going to wear these bright orange peep toes every weekend on the cobblestone streets of Europe! Okay, fine. How about this shirt that I wore that one time that only goes with that one other thing I own? Wait, but I should bring this other ridiculous thing too just in case there’s a theme party, right? And how about these ten books that of course I’ll need for traveling and uh, room decoration?
This time around, there’s also the fret that I’ll forget my passport or train ticket or phones or some other crucial piece of stress-free travel and the nagging fear that I’ll ram my luggage into Parisians while trying to navigate Charles de Gaulle.
Sounds like a party, huh?
Despite the lingering stress, though, after conceding that I can’t bring everything I own, consulting experienced friends for advice and making a few rules for myself, I can finally report progress.
Here are the rules:
- Only bring things you can wear at least three different ways.
- If you don’t wear it in the United States, don’t bring it to France.
- Bring ONE suitcase. One. And don’t you dare pull that zipper to expand it — gotta leave room to bring home fancy European things*! *shoes
- When playing the packing game, solids always win (except for scarves…duh).
- Bring your walking shoes; when you need more, buy them there. I know I’ll be buying them there anyway…
Essentially, I just get to pretend to be Clara Flaherty, “makin’ cuts” for days. But hey, we’re getting there. And my Ella Fitzgerald playlist has made the time spent staring at the mess I’ve made of my room at least somewhat enjoyable.
When I haven’t been packing over the last couple weeks (or watching Criminal Minds or running around with friends or going to Toledo or Chicago or Chicago again…), I’ve been busy dreaming of France with the help of wonderful books about French travel, style, history, and language.
My favorite was a Christmas present from my beautiful best friend Tina called Paris Was Ours. It’s a collection of essays from 32 writers about time they’ve spent in Paris. Surprisingly, what I love about this book is not its focus on Paris as a city, but on the courage that the city requires, sense of adventure it instills, and stories it inspires. As I read, I couldn’t help but imagine the experiences that await me in France and what my essay in this book might say.
I’ll find out soon.
While packing may be stressful, looking forward to the incredible adventure I get to go on is the best feeling in the world.
Two days, y’all. I can’t wait.