The first post I ever wrote to my original site was about preparing to leave and finding a place to leave to. I wrote about searching travel sites and different booking agents to find the best price for extended vacations. I wrote about my wife, Honey, and how she would start packing weeks in advance and how the toiletries kept disappearing from the cabinets as they made their way to the luggage… Two weeks before we were left!! I wrote about the intensity at home and how it would build as the departure date came closer and I wrote about the countless lists.
Times have changed drastically over the years. With one calendar month to go, Honey has not made a single list to do with travel. She hasn’t dug out her summer clothes or the luggage for that matter. There isn’t a pile of insect repellent and sunscreen littering the dining table or any signs of impending travel whatsoever!! What is wrong with that woman?!!! I know she knows that were going on vacation, we’ve been talking about it for a year! Why isn’t she in a panic???
The reason is simple. Been there… done that… She doesn’t need a pre-list of things not to forget to pack. Things that 15 years ago she was not sure she could get in the Dominican Republic and things she thought would be cheaper to purchase in Canada. Combined those things filled a suitcase those first few years. We packed and transported needless items, things we never used, the “but you never know, we might need” things. We usually just left stuff behind to lighten our luggage weight when we departed to return home.
We packed “just in case” clothing too. Like 2 pairs of jeans, two pairs of dressy pants, 3 dress shirts, 16 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of shoes, 6 sets of pyjamas, 20 T-shirts, 10 pairs of shorts and 15 pairs of underwear. You’d think I had an incontinence problem!! By the time we left Canada our dresser drawers were void of anything but winter clothing. One year I even brought long underwear because it would be cold in Toronto during our layover home and I knew I would be outside having a smoke! Over-packing was a main-stay those first few years.
I say the first few years because we were choosing different locations every year and even though after the first year I learned I only needed 2 pairs of socks (1 pair to travel to and 1 to travel back), but discarded items were replaced by other things we found that we ‘might’ need. Each different destination required certain things be taken with us, “just in case”. Like black pepper to Cuba, face clothes to the Dominican Republic, and rolling papers to Jamaica. Things you can find but are just as easy to have in your luggage. This cycle continued for 9 years until our travelling pattern changed and we settled on one location.
Over the last 7 years we have reduced our luggage count from 4 bags to just 2 last year. Which is a good thing since we now pay extra for every bag. With a set destination we know what we can get there and what we must bring. We no longer bring a variety of medications and make-up and toiletries. We bring what is necessary for our personal comfort, the rest stays behind.
We use vacuum bags to pack our clothes and pack a collapsible tote bag in case we need space for the return trip. Vacuum sealing requires a vacuum, something you will not find on a Dominican beach. We started leaving pointless clothing behind. Nobody cares that you are wearing sandals or sneakers, it’s plenty dressy for the Dominican Republic and lets be honest, nobody changes their clothing 3 times a day when they’re on vacation. You would be doing well to change your clothes once every 3 days!! After 10 days every piece of clothing gets the ‘sniff’ test whether its been worn or not anyway!!
Honey doesn’t need a list to remind her of what is needed for us to travel with because she has been there and done that for the last 7 years. She knows her stuff and needs only to make a list of supplies to replenish and no longer has a ‘might need’ list. She knows what she can get there if it is needed which it usually isn’t, and has done away with the needless things. You can get bug killer and sunscreen there if you need extra, you don’t need 5 bottles of each! In my humble opinion the best sunscreen is to stay in the shade and the best bug killer still remains ‘blunt-force trauma’. But they have stores there too! You don’t have to get the local store clerk to look in the backroom to see if they have any left over from last year’s summer stock just so you have enough. Been there… Done that.
So having this knowledge has made travel preparations in my home a much more relaxing experience. We know where we’re going, we know what we’re going to need and we know that if we forget something the world won’t end. There is no sense of panic and even when the final week arrives, my bet is that everything will be dealt with ‘matter-of-factually’. Sunscreen… check… 2 pairs of socks… check… old sandals, dressy sandals… check, check… shorts, shirts, pj’s… check, check, check… Two 32” television sets duct taped together with a handle to resemble luggage…
… been there… done that.