Packing Lightly

Despite frequent travel, I never find the right amount of clothing to pack. Sometimes, as in when we went to Italy, we locate a laundromat on the Internet ahead of time so we know when and where we will get to wash clothes. In Israel, however, our laundry plans went awry when we had to change hotels unexpectedly, and we ended up washing our underwear in the hotel sink. Add to that an Air France strike that delayed our return home, and I ended up wearing clothes on the long plane ride that, well, weren’t quite as fresh as I would like. Usually, though, I overprepare and end up bringing clean clothes home.

This time, we’re headed to Switzerland and France. In addition to the clothing options, challenged by three different sets of temperatures, we have hiking gear to consider. Still, I am determined to pack lightly. Yesterday, all packed, I then unpacked everything to move it to a smaller suitcase, which forced me to make some hard choices. I decided I didn’t need to take two vests, for example,  just because they’re both cute, when one will do. I discovered that in my panic about being gone for an entire month, which is new for me, I WAY overpacked. Now I am happy with a smaller suitcase that will work much better as we navigate the Swiss railway system.

In addition to lightening the suitcase, there are other ways to pack lightly. For me, that has meant working hard to get writing projects to a certain point so they can “cool” while I’m gone, and I won’t feel compelled to work on them. I have promised myself that for this month, in the midst of exploring and hiking and immersing myself in different cultures, I get to work on new stuff. In working hard ahead of time, my mind is relaxed and clear, making room for new stories.

I read a lot of travel narratives, and I’m not sure what I can offer that is new or different–Peter Mayle, for example, seems to have Provence locked up–but my job is to travel lightly, with a light suitcase and a light heart, and to write whatever comes of that. So, the next installment of this blog will come to you from Grindelwald, Switzerland, where I have a date with mountains, cheese, and chocolate, not necessarily in that order.

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