Packing: The rehearsal


Face it — I’m a bit of a packing snob. Fifteen years of bicycle touring for three weeks at a time with only panniers and a small front tour pack taught me some valuable lessons.

I learned to choose a color palette (usually everything goes with black and white and gray — just throw in a little red to mix and match is easier, plus shoes can then be limited), realize you CAN wash things, even if it’s in the hotel bathroom or the campground sink with a little shampoo, and sometimes tell yourself, “I’ll never see these people again.”

A USA Today article “10 tips every packer should know” made me pretty happy. I basically follow all of this advice, from rolling items to take up less space and avoid wrinkles to wearing AND packing in layers.  According to Caroline Costello,,  “TSA says pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.) so the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what’s inside.” That way you get through the line faster.

But packing for Prague has its own set of challenges. First, it’s for Aug. 26 – Oct. 26, a sizable range of weather — from highs of 90, predicted two days after I arrive, to an average low of 36 the day I leave. That means going the compression bag route with a couple of coats and a small pile of sweaters.

Then, too, I’ll need teaching clothes, perhaps “dress-up” clothes, maybe something to wear if I go with a friend who has works on an acreage on weekends. Of course there’s also just daily clothes.

I have been auditioning my shoes all summer. Which are more comfortable? When I wear them all day, walking around, which didn’t give me blisters? Which could look slightly dressy or still go with jeans? Clothes, too, have faced the same scrutiny. What washes up without ironing, and what goes with lots of other items? Most important, what will be cool enough in late August and layer-able in the end of October.

I also THOUGHT I should be taking toiletries to last two months so I’d have brands I like, but I rethought that when the bag with shampoo, rinse, contact solution, shower gel and body lotion weight 8.5 lbs. I think I’ll be hitting the drug store and not worrying if I don’t smell like Bath & Body Works Sea Island Cotton.

The bedroom is currently a staging area with piles here and there. I know I won’t be able to bring everything I’ve pulled out of drawers and closets, but that’s OK. I tend to use the “optometrist” approach most of the time for my packing. Three different tops that go with one pair of pants — they don’t all fit in the suitcase? Okay, hold them up one at a time — are the pants better with top 1 or 2? Better with 2 or 3? Already one rain jacket was voted out of the suitcase — heavier than the other one and not as loose so more layers wouldn’t fit under it when the days get cooler. It stays home. By Monday, I’ll have a large pile of others that will stay with it. Time will tell if I chose the right things.

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