Monday, September 24, 2012

Packing for a Weekend Away

Fall is full of new beginnings. Some people are starting a new year of school, while others start new jobs. A lot is going on in every community and there is always so much transition and adjusting during the autumn season. But with every new beginning, we need a new retreat from the chaos. Many of us will be taking off from our normal lives and spending a weekend away, going to big cities or visiting friends. The downside is that every road trip has to start with something that most people hate: packing.

Almost everyone I know hates packing. They dread packing so much that they wait until the last minute and then throw a bunch random mismatched items in a bag and then end up not having anything to wear. Fortunately, I love packing. It not only gets me excited to go on my trip, but it causes me to get organized and not stress out about the trip itself. Yes, I understand that I am one of the only people on the planet that thinks this way, but after I show you my packing routine and give you a few tips and tricks, maybe you won't dread packing as much as before. Maybe you'll even like it.

Step 1: Pick out your luggage of choice. This is crucial because it can make or break your packing experience. Because most of my trips are friday-night-to-sunday-afternoon trips, a medium size duffel bag is usually big enough for me. One thing that you shouldn't do is give yourself too much room, because then you just pack your whole closet and it turns out to be a huge mess. My mom just bought me this new duffel bag for my birthday, and I think it is just the right size for a weekend trip.

Step 2: Pack the necessities. The first thing you should pack is underwear, socks, and at least one belt. I cannot tell you how many times I've gone on trips with friends and one of them forgot to pack an extra pair of underwear. Also, I cannot count the amount of times that I have forgotten to pack a belt. Now, I make sure that's one of the first things I pack. I always put one black and one brown belt in my bag just to be safe.

Step 3: Pack for big events. My most recent weekend away was to the University of Virginia. One of my friends goes to grad school there, and my school, good old Penn State, was playing them in football. A bunch of my friends who have already graduated decided we should all reunite at UVA and tailgate Saturday for the game. That being said, I knew I needed to pack a tailgating outfit. I also knew that we would be going out on Saturday night, so I needed to pack a night outfit. I found things to wear for both of these events and packed them first. This also forces you to find out a vague itinerary for the weekend. Maybe you and a few friends are just going somewhere spontaneously? Think about what you're most likely going to do on this spontaneous trip. You are probably going to go out to dinner a few times, you are probably going to go to bars. Pack accordingly.

Step 4: Always pack a spare. People dress differently all around the world, and although I never strive to fit in, I also don't want to look like a walking circus attraction. That's why I always pack at least one spare outfit. In preparation for the UVA weekend, I packed one of my normal Black night outfits to go out in. I had no idea if we were planning to go to a club or more of a saloon type bar, so I packed a club outfit as well as something more casual. This way, if my "going out" outfit wasn't going to be appropriate, I wouldn't be shit out of luck.

Step 5: Consolidate. This is the most important part of packing. Take a look at all the items that you are going to pack. Is there any way you could eliminate a pair of pants? I usually pack a pair of black or grey jeans for my going out outfit, but sometimes I just pack one pair of dark blue jeans that can be worn with my black and brown outfits. So instead of having one pair of pants for each separate outfit, I just pack one pair that goes with everything.

Step 6: Wear hard-to-pack items. Sometimes I want to bring along a pair of high top sneakers or maybe boots. The only problem is that these items are bulky and not easily fit into a smaller bag. I always wear these things while I'm traveling so that I won't ever have to pack them.

Just follow these few easy steps and you can take some of the stress out of your trip. Happy packing!