I have my annual Girls Trip coming up very soon. Wheels up this weekend! This year it’s Croatia for six days followed by a few days alone in Amsterdam ’cause why not.
In preparation to travel to a new place, I do a lot of research, getting a sense of the general vicinity of where we are going, marking down places of interest that we could go to, looking into tours (though we don’t often do them. I find they tend to ramble on and I get sick of being lectured). I check on hours of operation and make sure stuff’s happening when we might be going. I learned that because we are outside of the tourist season, part of the Krka National Park will be closed. That’s to my over-researching, we know exactly what part of the park is open and where we will be able to explore.
I like to get a general lay of the land, and then curiously, when we get there, my mindset is “we can do whatever”. Once I have a general sense of our options, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything once I arrive.
Traveling with my friends Libby and Nirvi is easy too. We generally will discuss what one or two things we’d like to do that day and then try to do them. We don’t stress if it doesn’t happen. Me before the trip is scattered and reading and researching and panicking and nit-picking. Me on vacation is pretty chill.
Leading up to my departure though, and this was the case last year, I am a buying fiend!
It’s ridiculous. I start my pre-packing process by hauling out my travel toiletries. Oh, maybe I need new shampoo bottles? NO! YOU HAVE 47 OF THEM RIGHT HERE DON’T YOU DARE BUY MORE! I did, however, buy all natural tablets to help deter jet lag,
some tiny travel sheets of laundry detergent, and 32 new articles of clothing, 29 of which I will return.
Let me explain. I want to look nice when I travel but I want to be comfortable. I want to not over pack but I don’t want to miss anything. I look at Pinterest for advice on how to pack smartly. The overabundance of information blows my mind. As well as the implication that skinny jeans are the only pants in existence on the planet. I know for a fact that this is not true.
Raincoats. I got a bee in my bonnet about buying a packable raincoat. Never in many years would I have guessed that finding a nice, packable raincoat would be such a trial! I bought two on Amazon which I returned because they weren’t long enough. I borrowed one from Dori but decided a nice raincoat would be a good investment so I might as well just buy my own. I’m also cheap, and nice raincoats are expensive, so there’s that issue. I found one at target and though voila! I’m done! Then a day went by and I decided I didn’t really love it afterall.
So yesterday during my “lunch break” I went to a nearby Marshalls and found a really nice raincoat that fits the bill. Only ten dollars more than the one from Target, it’s quality was much better and it had lots of zippers and pockets, and you know what zippers and pockets mean? They mean the person who wears that coat is cool. It’s a bit heavier than I would like, but it will pack up small so I think it should be fine.
Then there’s pants. I put on at least ten pounds since last year so my “nice” jeans don’t work anymore. I can get them on but they’re so tight they make me hella cranky. No good! So I’ve been on a search for new “nice” jeans. Basically I’m failing but I believe I’ve purchased four pairs during this effort. Again, many will be returned.
Then there’s leggings. Looking around on the college campus where I work, leggings are
everywhere. On students, on professionals, everywhere. All shapes and sized wear them. I’ve decided I might give them a try, pairing them with tops since I’d prefer to not pretend they’re pants. I’m not promising anything though. Then I decided that I had to travel with a long cardigan. So then the excessive cardigan shopping began. It had to be long but not like a robe. Ideally with pockets, but not necessarily. Warm but not too heavy. And not too hot. And not thin, but not bulky. SO MUCH PRESSURE!
I bought six of them, I believe. Again, five will be returned.
Now shoes. We will be walking a ton as we do every year, so I want good walking shoes. Online packing tips always talk about flats. These are wimpy little shoes that looks cute but I won’t last a block in because you might as well just walk around in socks. That’s how useless they are for walking on concrete all day long. I have a pair of lace-up black sneakers that are presentable enough (purchased for last year’s trip and worn regularly still), but I don’t want to travel with only one pair of shoes. I don’t have gray shoes, I should buy some! So then I’m searching for gray sneakers that look nice and not too sneakery, and are sturdy but not clunky, and on and on.
I have two pairs in my possession now, one pair will be my shoes to fly in (oh, and the shoes needed to be easy to get on and off because of TSA).
Last year I labored over a faux leather jacket. The one I eventually bought is one of my favorites and I still wear it all the time. The travel umbrella I “splurged” on last year is still as handy as ever with it’s compactness. I remind myself of these facts when I am in the depths of my pre-travel shopping.
Oh, have I mentioned the struggle of packing cubes? A few years ago I discovered the helpfulness of rolling my belongings when I pack. It takes up far less room, (which means I pack more which means my luggage is heavier to lug around, but still). This year I’ve been seeing packing cubes (used to organize your clothes within your luggage and help keep the items compact as well. By “seeing packing cubes” I actually mean that some creepy computer algorithm saw I was searching for shoes and jet lag pills and travel raincoats and figured out I was traveling and so it started showing me packing cubes. Trusting the Facebook, I went on there to ask “Frequent travelers; packing cubes – handy or useless?” I got a universal “HANDY!”
Packing cubes it is then.
Aside from clothes, there’s the note from the doctor saying I am diabetic in case there’s a Rx issue in Customs, then I applied for a Global Pass and had to deal with all that as well as get myself an International Driver’s Permit in case we need it when we rent the car (‘sure hope that permit arrives in the mail before I leave!). And I already ought my ticket to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam ’cause I’m told that’s how you skip the lines. Booked AirBnBs and hotels, booked multiple flights, bought a train ticket to avoid the lines, and signed up for a walking tour in Amsterdam.
It’s a good thing this vacation’s coming cause I need a vacation from my vacation planning.