For my wife, Kelly, the thought of packing for any trip of any length is daunting. As much as travel is and always has been a huge part of her life and central to her very happiness, she hates to pack. She also hates to unpack but that's another story.
The destination has little to do with Kelly's anxiety about packing. We could be going to Tokyo, Finland, Vienna, South Africa, or Lincoln, Maine, it would make little difference. Kelly's problem isn't even knowing what type of things to pack. She does her research very thoroughly. Temperature range, precipitation, level of formality and all other factors are considered before she ever goes into her closet (or more accurately, gets online or to the mall to shop.)
The real problems start once all of her options have been assembled. Our bed is covered with clothes, many items still in their packages. Boxes litter the floor, again, many unopened (the open ones usually are occupied by one or more of our cats.) Eventually, everything is spread out for careful consideration. Of course, I have not even thought about what I will pack. It wouldn't matter if I did since there is no room left to set up a suitcase.
"Ok, Sunday day, Sunday night, Monday day, Monday night..." is how the process of elimination, or inclusion, usually starts. Kelly counts the days and nights that she will potentially need an outfit. From there, further refinement is required. What exactly is planned for those days and nights? Hiking, shopping, sightseeing, dining (dressy or casual,) and a whole range of other activities populating our itinerary must be considered for appropriate apparel.
Logical? Yes for many tourists. The problem is, Kelly isn't and never has been a tourist. Being raised in many countries in the world, Kelly never approaches a destination as a typical tourist. She looks at places as a world citizen. She doesn't do guided tours, group activities, included buffets, or anything else a true tourist would consider a staple part of a journey. No, Kelly visits a new place like she's been there before. Our itinerary and what we see isn't all from a guide book. Her information comes from deeper research and input from her local contacts. Don't get me wrong, we'll see the Coliseum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Table Mountain in Capetown. We won't forget the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre. But we will see things most tourists don't know exists. A bookbinding shop in Tokyo, a local market in Mexico, a private wine cellar in Vienna also make the itinerary. That's how Kelly rolls!
So what does this have to do with packing? Well it's simple. Unlike considering what to pack for a typical tourist's holiday, Kelly needs to consider things for seeing places and doing things most tourists won't need to worry about. So while it is simple enough to count days and nights for a total number of outfits, we also need to consider the unexpected and unknown. Our itinerary is not plotted out to the minute. Often, we explore based on Kelly's research. We don't always know what to expect. For this reason, we not only need outfits for days and nights, we need multiple options for every day and night. This is the crux of the challenge.
We are now two days away from traveling to Peru (although technically we leave tomorrow for Miami). The assemblage of potential outfits has begun. An increased volume of deliveries started a few days ago. Pat, our postman, Bob, our primary FedEx guy, and Bill, our UPS man (yes, we are on first-name basis with these folks) have been greeted by our dog, Lemon, multiple times, sometimes twice a day, for a few days now. Boxes and packages have been opened and, in some cases, have already been returned. The closet has been partially emptied and the mall has been visited in person a few times now. The pressure is mounting as we close in on the time to actually get the luggage out of the closet.
This trip has a particular challenge for packing that has nothing to do with climate, Michelin starred restaurants, or far away markets. This trip has actual packing limitations. No, it is not the policy of some discount airline. That is never an option. This has to do with another mode of transportation that will encompass much of our trip, the Belmond Andean Explorer Train! Strict luggage limits are imposed on all train passengers including serious restrictions for luggage in the cabins! What WILL Kelly do.
To be honest, I have no idea. This is a new wrinkle in the typical high-anxiety packing routine. I do know there is a good chance my allotment of luggage space will likely be commandeered. For this eventuality, I am ready. For I am a simple man of simple taste! Just ask my wife!