Packing Anxiety

by: Alyssa Ruffolo

I don’t know about anyone else, but I do not like being accused of being “the typical girl” — one because that statement overgeneralizes and being a feminist I don’t like being categorized (stereotyped) by my gender, but two because usually that phrase has a negative connotation which I do not enjoy. Nonetheless, many would consider it a “typical girl” thing to always over-pack on trips, which I am extremely guilty of unfortunately. For people (often guys) complaining about other people (many times their girlfriends) over-packing, let me explain to you why this happens so that maybe you will understand and take a chill pill. I am sure many girls and guys reading this will be able to relate.

So, whenever my boyfriend and I go on long trips, I tend to over-pack. Even on weekend trips, I am guilty of this. While I strive to be a minimalist and envy that lifestyle in many ways, going on long trips requires some serious planning. Lets take the example of a trip to Florida. If I am traveling to Florida and will be staying for five days, especially if it is cold in the area I am flying out of (i.e. Philadelphia in the wintertime), I am going to need to pack a very diverse collection of apparel. First of all, I will most likely need to wear a scarf, boots, a coat, and a sweater when leaving Philadelphia. Then, for the arrival, I will need shorts, flip flops, T-shirts, tank tops, and 2-3 bathing suits. I will also need a raincoat, as it rains often in Florida. I might want to bring one warm outfit in case it is chilly at night or just one of the days we are there, as Florida’s weather tends to change very frequently and unpredictably. I also need running sneakers, socks, clothes, and sports bras. While I do not wear makeup every day, I wear it about 4 days a week and always if I am going out somewhere on a date/for dinner (this varies person-person, girl-girl). So, I will need to pack my makeup bag, and having extremely unmanageable hair, I will also need a few hair products and a straightener/wand. Then I need a razor, soap, lotion, perfume, deodorant, a hairbrush, and shower stuff (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face-wash). I also need a toothbrush,  phone charger, sunscreen, money, a towel, and other random but necessary items. If I want to bring any books or a blanket, those will also need to be packed. There are probably still things I am forgetting that I would bring on this trip. Regardless, the point is that while it may seem like I am over-packing, everything I have just named was something I would definitely need on this trip or end up having to buy in Florida.

I have yet to learn how to pack light, but in my defense I am usually the person everyone comes to when they realize they forgot to pack a certain item. For me, the security of knowing that I have everything I might need keeps my anxiety in check and allows me to travel at ease (beside the throbbing in my arm as I drag my luggage around the airport). If I did not wear makeup or style my hair, this would lighten the load significantly. Also, it seems to me that it is much less acceptable in society for a female to repeat an outfit than a male. My boyfriend could easily pack one or two outfits for the whole week, rewash them a few times during the trip, and be fine. I am not sure exactly the reason, but he somehow managed to pack just one suitcase when he moved out to New Mexico for a semester for school. I am still trying to become a minimalist, but I am sure others reading this can relate to the struggles of packing anxiety. Any tips and tricks that help you to pack light?

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