Apr 21, 2006

Overpacking v. underpacking

I always seem to veer between the two.

Travel magazines and guides always advise you to underpack: Bring one pair of undies that you can wash out each evening, a pair of black pants and a sturdy shoe that can go from day to evening. Add to that a white blouse, a slinky black top, a pair of earrings and a tube of lipstick and you're all set.

On what planet can you find a "sturdy shoe" that can go from day to evening? And who wants to spend time away from home washing out undies?

My sister, who travels a lot for her business is a notorious overpacker. She has this one suitcase that is so huge that the porters on the QEII actually did a doubletake when she unveiled it on her way to her honeymoon.

Unless you have a royal retinue to cart the stuff around, overpacking can be a pain. Still, I prefer to be on the safe side.

Last weekend when I went to visit relatives in Virginia I seriously underpacked, neglecting to bring a bathing suit which would have enabled me to take a dip in the hotel pool before dinner after a seriously sweaty day. I also neglected to bring enough shoes, which I find is always the case. I only brought 3 pairs: Sneakers, my current favorite wedges/sandals, and a pair of sequined flipflops, which serve as slippers these days.

Three pairs of shoes for a one-night/two-day stay? That's not enough?

Well, no. Since I wasn't able to swim before dinner and I had to do something, I headed over to the local mall and bought a pair of pants (80 percent off!) that I would have liked to have worn on day 2 of my visit as the temperature had dropped from 85 the day before to a much cooler 60-something. But none of my available shoes did the trick. So I wore what I had, which wasn't nearly warm enough.

This weekend I upped the shoe quota by two, adding to the above a pair of platform sandals and a sensible-ish black sandal thing usually good for walking. I'm wearing the latter now and though they feel all right I don't like the looks of them all of a sudden. My feet look swollen, though they're comfortable enough. Plus, it's likely to be chilly and all my shoes save the sneakers are of a sandal-type nature.

Incidentally, I always pack my sneakers whenever I travel. This because I always tell myself that if I want to use the hotel gym they'll come in handy. They are seldom used, but I prefer to maintain the fiction that I'll get an hour in on the elliptical before going out and gorging myself on food and wine. Since I'm supposed to be tramping around the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend, I'm confident they'll be used this weekend.

You really never can have enough shoes. I wish I had brought these along this weekend. (Thanks Manolo for the tip.) But I couldn't, since I don't own them. In any case I didn't pack anything that goes with them either.

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