confessions of a packaholic

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Ready for the weekend!

Ready for the weekend!

We just returned from a spontaneous four-night trip to Arizona, planned just two days before we left. As we were getting ready to leave, the differences in our packing styles and thought processes were pretty entertaining.

It was snowing as we left Colorado and headed to Phoenix, where record-high temperatures were supposed to be near 90. Our plan was to have a nice Valentine’s Day dinner in Phoenix, then head out the next morning for the Grand Canyon, which meant higher elevations and hiking.

If you’re keeping track, that means we were packing for snow, sunshine, hiking, a night out, cold temps, warm temps, hot temps and several long drives. Not counting toiletries or what we were wearing when we left the house, here’s what we each ended up bringing along.

Scott packed 15 things. His duffel bag included a jacket, a pair of jeans, five shirts, four pairs of boxers and four pairs of socks.

I packed 36. A coat, a mid-weight jacket, a pair of jeans, yoga pants and a matching jacket, five pairs of socks, a sweater, a sweatshirt, three short-sleeved shirts, four long-sleeved shirts, a tank top, a swimsuit, three pairs of shoes, seven undies, two bras and three nighties.

Here’s what went on in each of our minds as we were packing:


“Four days, four outfits. Throw in an extra shirt in case I spill something. Let’s go!”


“Day 1, a fairly long car ride. It will be cold when we start out and hot by the time we get there, so I need to pack some layers. It’s snowing now. I’d better take my winter coat, but it might be too warm, so I’ll take a jacket, too. It’s Valentine’s Day; I’ll need some cute shoes and that pretty lace shirt and the matching tank top for dinner. There’s a pool and a hot tub, so I’ll throw in the swimsuit.

Day 2, it’s supposed to be warm at the Grand Canyon, but not as warm as in Phoenix. I’ll need layers again. Better add a sweater in case I don’t want to wear the coat or the jacket. Will definitely need the hiking shoes. If it’s warm, I’ll want to get some sun on this pasty skin, so short sleeves will be best. Unless it’s chilly, then I’ll want long sleeves.

Day 3, exploring the canyon. More layers and that cute orange sweatshirt. I’m sure glad I bought that sweatshirt, I wonder if I can find one in a different color. Maybe when we go back to … wait, focus on packing! I’ll want to change clothes since I’ll get sweaty hiking, so something a little nicer for dinner.

Day 4, a long drive home. We’ll be tired from all of the exploring and we’re going to hit a few more stops in the canyon on our way, so I’ll want something comfy. The black yoga pants and jacket will be perfect, but I can’t wear hiking shoes with that so I’ll need to take the black slip-on Skechers. Hmmmm. There’s still room in the suitcase. Better throw in an extra of everything in case I spill something or I change my mind.”

I would like to point out that I have successfully packed for a four-day trip in a carry-on bag. But when we’re driving, I feel like I have a little (lot) more leeway.

The result? Once I added my laptop to the suitcase, I could barely lift it. It’s a good thing it has wheels and that Scott was willing to heave it into the car for me. I did not need the coat because it didn’t get that cold, or the yoga pants (or the matching jacket and shoes) because it was a little too chilly to hike in them early in the morning, or the sweater because we ate dinner on the way back from the canyon and I didn’t have time to change. As it turns out, I didn’t need my swimsuit either, because Scott forgot his.

The moral of the story? There isn’t one! We had a great time regardless of what we packed.  I could (should) travel a little lighter next time, although I probably won’t unless we’re flying or I have to lift my own suitcase.

For true inspiration on packing light, read my niece’s blog about packing for two weeks in Greece in a carry-on bag! And stay tuned for more Tales From the Empty Nest.

6 thoughts on “confessions of a packaholic

  1. Flattered *blushing* with the mention. 🙂 I think this shows the true difference between men and women (unless you’re my husband of course…who needs a pair of cowboy boots for every occasion).


  2. We just packed for 4 weeks in Southeast Asia (including a cruise) to be followed by a 3 month sabbatical in Hawaii. My husband was amazed how much I could fit into a 22 inch suitcase. I kind of was too, but I think the lesson learned was “Just because you can fit another thing in your suitcase does mean you should.”


  3. It’s all about layering and bringing a capsule wardrobe. The capsules give multiple outfits and the layers give temperature control. MVP: Thin silk long john top (scoop neck) and a pair of leggings.


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