Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Are Your Biggest Packing Mistakes?

Mara here: Last weekend, my husband and I talked about traveling around the United States or abroad, and it made me think about some of the trips we've taken. Then my thoughts turned to how much I hate packing for trips, which then reminded me of a couple of times I'd make some ridiculous packing mistakes. Let's face it, we all forget things—toothpaste, Q-tips, a shower cap. But there have been a few times I forgot pretty significant things—items that you can't just run to the front desk of your hotel and request a replacement for.

So here are a few of the dumbest packing mistakes I've made:

No jacket in a snow storm. We took Malia to the mountains a few months after she was born. Like the good mother I was, I bought and packed cold weather gear for Malia—a puffy coat, a thermal hat, socks, boots—the works. We got up to Lake Tahoe and when the snow started falling, I realized I hadn't brought a jacket for myself. 

I can't remember what I did. I think the place we stayed in had some extra coats hanging in a closet or maybe Brad gallantly gave me his jacket (which he had managed to remember to bring), but that was definitely an "I'm a tired new mommy moment." (I do want to point out that my mother-in-law came on a trip to Nashville several years later with us; there was a freak April snow storm in the forecast and she had only packed flip flops, so I feel better knowing I'm not the only one.)

No underwear. I can't even remember where we'd travelled to, but I arrived with no underwear. I think we ran out to a Wal-Mart and I bought some for the trip, but it was not my best travel moment. Now underwear is the first thing I pack. 

No matching socks in Japan. It's the custom in Japan to take your shoes off when you go inside, so of course, that's what we did. But shortly after arriving, I realized I hadn't brought any matching socks. I wear these little short sock things. I have a lot of different pairs and who has time to sort them all the time? Plus, at home, I don't usually wear socks unless I'm jogging or wearing boots. But in Japan, it's polite to wear socks. So I wore my grubby, mis-matched-socks for three weeks until I did buy some cute new Hello Kitty ones. There are sock stores everywhere in Japan.

Six shirts and no pants. This was a trip when I was worried that my shirts would get dirty. I was so focused on making sure I had enough clean shirts packed that I didn't pack any additional pants. As a result, I wore my same jeans for the whole time. Honestly, I am rolling my eyes at myself just remembering.

A bonus one: no bottle opener. This is really my husband's recurring packing issue. And it's only an issue because he'll buy bottles of beer (never cans) to have in the hotel, but then he gets back to the room and realizes he has forgotten to pack one of his millions of bottle openers. In fact, I have started buying them for him as a running joke. He has shoes with bottle openers, wallet cards with bottle openers, key chains with bottle openers. Somehow they never make it into his travel bag. 


Toni here: I've made a few packing mistakes over the years, too. Here are a few:

Essential medications. I've done this twice, but in an unusual way. I pack the prescription pill bottle but fail to open it to see how many pills are left in it. One time, I needed six pills for six nights. I opened the bottle and there were two left in it. I called the same chain pharmacy that had the prescription on file in my hometown and begged them for just four pills to help me through (they weren't even pain pills). The pharmacy said "no" but agreed to call my health insurance. The insurance company said it was okay, so I dodged having go without the pills for the duration of the trip.

Hot in Davis; cold in San Francisco! My husband and I live in the Central Valley of California and used to frequently visit his parents in San Francisco on the weekends. In the summer, the temperatures are often over 100 degrees (F) where we live in Davis. The hotter it is in the valley, the more likely San Francisco is socked in with a cold, wet coastal fog. This is because hot air is less dense and so it rises and that pulls the colder ocean air in to replace it. I loved looking out the window of his parents' house in San Francisco and watch the fog roll up Portola Drive and eventually cover my their house. 

The problem is that we'd be so hot in Davis (and in our car because we didn't have air conditioning) that we'd wear the coolest clothes we could find when we took off for San Francisco. For me, that meant putting on a spaghetti-strap sundress. For my husband, it meant putting on his thinnest T-shirt.

Then we'd get to San Francisco and be freezing! I'd wind up borrowing a jacket from my mother-in-law, telling her that next time I'd bring my own. But I'd always forget to pack it. I think I just couldn't stand the thought of even touching a jacket when it was so hot outside where we lived!

A packing mistake that wasn't. One year, your dad and I went to Hawaii and I forgot to be sure he packed a swimming suit. If I'd not packed a suit for me, I'd have had to buy one immediately upon the plane landing because I headed straight to the ocean as soon as possible. For your dad, however, it was no problem because he's one of the few people who goes to Hawaii and has no interest in going in the water. I still can't imagine being like that!

The reason I haven't made very many packing mistakes is that I'm a list maker...and always made a list of what to take. After all, I took that pill bottle with me. I just didn't check to see how many pills were in it!


What about you? Have you ever found yourself on a trip and discovered that you didn't pack the right things? 

Are you a careful packer? Do you make lists and prepare ahead?

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