This is a guest post from my college friend Steph who blogs at Life According to Steph. She’s really smart and funny, so when you’re done reading her post, visit her blog or on Facebook or Pinterest. Also, tomorrow is her birthday and I know it would make her feel extra special if you stopped by. While you’re there, check out my guest post.
I used to be the girl who packed a lot of clothes for a weekend and didn’t use half of them. I’m Type A – I
love organization and efficiency. This over packing didn’t suit me, so I honed my packing skills and pared down. Armed with my trusty packing Excel spreadsheet, I carefully plotted my outfits, books, and beauty items (Jana’s note: I am impressed with this idea of a spreadsheet. The only thing I have that comes close is a toiletry bag that’s permanently packed with everything I can possibly need, except for makeup. I pack that separately and the day of the trip). I got packing down to a science in which there was no waste.
My bags were small and my pride was large when sharing rooms or houses with friends who brought so
much that they never used. There was no need to separate clean clothes from dirty in bags while I was
packing to leave. I wore everything I brought, and when I returned home, everything went right to the
laundry room. My system was awesome.
Then we went away for what was supposed to be a quick weekend trip to Atlantic City, an hour and a
half from home. My husband had an accident and had to get surgery. This required two overnight stays
in the hospital for him, and one for me. My streamlined packing found us ill-equipped for an extended
While this was hopefully a once in a lifetime occurrence, it got me thinking (read: stewing). I hate being
unprepared. I sat in the post-op waiting room, looked down at my clothes, and knew I’d be wearing the
same thing again the next day. Being stuck in a hospital while a loved one is going through surgery is bad
enough, feeling gross was not a good add on. My pared down packing was kicking me in my own ass.
We were surrounded by pricey outlets, and the more budget-friendly Old Navy was a far walk through
streets rife with pushy homeless people. I didn’t feel like dealing with that. I’d already spent $30 in cabs
back and forth to the hotel to get our stuff out of the room, and since my car was still over there, I knew
I had another $10 cab ride to go. I decided to tough it out instead of spending more money on new
clothes. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to leave my husband alone in the hospital, high as a
kite on dilaudid, trying to get out of bed when he wasn’t supposed to and gleefully trying to text on his
iPhone while I was browsing the yoga pants at Old Navy.
When we go away in the future, I’ll do these things differently:
1. Bring an extra set of pajamas and an extra day’s worth of clothes.
2. Know if my health insurance covers transport (I know this now, but didn’t know it then, and
couldn’t get in touch with anyone on a Sunday).
3. Pack my computer. My iPhone is good, but not enough if I’m stuck somewhere and need to
4. Always make sure I have extra cash – I usually don’t, I just happened to this time. It was great to
not worry about finding a MAC machine.
5. Carry an iPhone charger in my purse. At the end of a long day out, both of our phones were
dead. Thankfully we were with a friend who gave me hers to take to the Emergency Room that
Jana’s note: I am not quite the expert suitcase packer that Steph is but I do have major paranoia issues regarding my person winding up in one location and my luggage in another so, in my carry-on, I will always have extra underwear and socks and some toiletries. And, not that I would know this from any experience or anything, but it really does suck to forget (or not have on hand) a charger, a toothbrush, underwear (yes, this is the second time I’ve mentioned my underwear. It’s very important to me), and enough cash. I also *might* be the overpacker that made Steph feel smug.
Readers, what are some of your overnight packing tips?