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Monday January 8, 2007 // By Sandy

With room to spare

We have this running joke in our house. It concerns our continuing ineptitude to learn from our mistakes. One of us will do something stupid — like forgetting to check if a restaurant is open before making dinner plans — and the other will try to cheer the first one up, usually with something soothing and helpful like, “Don’t worry, now we know. Next time we’ll remember.” To which the inevitable reply is “No, we’ll forget.” And it usually turns out to be true.

Not this time, not with this trip to Thailand. We organized the shit out of this trip. I had lists, and more lists, and charts, and a Backpack page, and more lists. I broke down that wall that usually prevents me from preparing for a big vacation, due to the limitless number of choices available. I studied up on our destination, read a book on the culture and history and started thinking about what our suitcases would contain weeks months ahead of time.

When it came to developing an itinerary, we had a choice: do we take everyone’s recommendations and camp out at one or two relaxing spots, or do we own up to our kinetic tendencies and try to squeeze in as much as possible? We had to go with the latter. The trip to Curaçao was our attempt at a normal person’s vacation. It was great, but that time is passed. Now, it’s time to devour.

Back to the packing — we knew we wanted to pack light. We weren’t exactly going backpacking, in the post-collegiate sense of the term, but we’d be traveling a lot, and it made sense to try to shed as much poundage as possible. That meant no rollies or handles on suitcases, and one or two pairs of shoes, tops. It meant just a few shirts and shorts. It meant no travel Scrabble. Er, hold the phone — Scrabble’s coming. It ain’t a Weisz vacation without Scrabble.

So we bought a couple of traveler’s backpacks. We blocked out all of Sunday and resolved to get all the packing done. We spent a few hours collecting stuff and deciding. We transfered all gel-like substances to three-ounce bottles. Then we laid everything out on the bed.

Didn’t seem so bad. An hour later:

Not only did it all fit, each of those big bags is at about half of capacity. This is important — this trip is to be as much a shopping and collecting adventure as a vacation. We were kind of stunned at our progress: not only to be packed three days early, but to surpass either of our expectations of efficiency.

We’re not fooling ourselves — we know we’re not doing this trip on the rough and dirty. We’re staying in nice hotels and taking planes to save time, when trains would have saved us money. But it’s nice to know, should the urge overcome us to jump the tracks and join the grungy world-traveling set, everything we’d need would be on our backs.

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