Traveling Lightly

     In this season when so many of us try to fit in family visits between school, work, and/or other obligations, the time we have for these visits is usually limited beyond our desires. As much happiness as can be brought with holidays, they regularly bring along stress with them with the joy. If you’re taking some time out of your regular routine to visit some one this season, you should be able to focus on the people, not the packing and logistics of your trip.

     How can we spend less time on the trip and more time on the visit? To start with, don’t over-analyze what to bring. As a rule, most of us bring more clothing than necessary for any given trip. This time, try bringing half what you usually would with each piece working with every other piece you pack. This saves time riffling through suit cases and organizing it all in hotel rooms or guest rooms. If you’re traveling for longer than a week it’s likely more reasonable to do laundry along the way than pack for the whole time.

     Next, don’t bring much in the category of filler activities. Bring one book instead of two, consider leaving the laptop at home in exchange for the tablet. Instead of filling time with items you brought with from home, spend the time interacting with the people and/or places you spent the effort of traveling to. They’re why you’re not at home, after all. Don’t leave everything at home, however. I for one find the comfort of a book I’m already reading very cathartic partway through a big vacation.

     It is far too easy to get caught up in the “what might I need” game when packing. I know I used to regularly find myself asking “what if…” when deciding to pack items. What if I get stranded? What if I need to wear something formal? What if I get dirty and need to change? After years of packing close to a full suitcase for weekend trips, I gave up on trying to carry answers to all those questions every time. The circumstances almost never came up over years of traveling anyhow. Now, I fill my regular backpack for week-long trips, sometimes longer. I barely have luggage for weekend trips at all anymore. Why? Because I have realized being present in the events I came there for are far more enriching than having things I brought from home. If I had the book at home to bring with on the trip, it will still be there when I get back afterward. If I came up with something I want to do online, I can write myself a note on my phone to remind me of it once I’m home. As for extra clothes, I can clean small items by hand in any sink available. If it’s a longer trip, I can always find a laundry machine to use, either at the house of who I’m visiting or a nearby laundromat. What I have gained is less time spent preparing for any trip I take, which decreases the stress I feel over them before I even step outside my own door. I also have far less of a drive to pull out a screen when I’m sitting with family and friends, as I left them behind at home. Therefore, I more smoothly push myself in to participating in activities while I am around the loved ones I have come to see.

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