Pack it Up

For the UAS Whalesong
Every year around this time, I like to write an article that is somehow related to traveling home for the holidays. Some people go home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas; due to the close proximity of the holidays, I imagine most people only choose to spend the money for a plane ticket on the latter. Regardless, it’s never too early (in my opinion) to start talking about preparing and packing for the trip home.
If you are someone who is very organized and good at traveling, this article is not for you. This article is for people who, like me, experience the struggle of packing on an unnecessarily personal and intense level every time it comes around. After plenty of trips to and from home and college, I have the theory of packing down pretty well, but when it comes time to put it into practice I tend to break down and have a small internal fit of hysterics before just sort of screaming, throwing far too much stuff in a suitcase, and suffering the judgment of my parents when I show up for a 5-day Thanksgiving break with packed-full luggage. A large part of my personal mission as a reporter for the Whalesong is to give my fellow students advice and guidance regarding various aspects of young adult life, and I think that learning and knowing how to pack is definitely an important thing to cover.
Step one is to pack the absolute essentials first. And no, that doesn’t include your large clunky gaming system or your favorite hoodie. Start with stuff like deodorant, your toothbrush, socks and underwear – you know, the stuff your mom would want you to pack. Try to tuck these into those weird small pockets that every suitcase comes with and no one uses. Make them as small as possible, to give yourself the illusion that you are saving space. (My mother always maintained that it doesn’t matter what shape you put stuff in, because the stuff takes up the same amount of space regardless because of math or physics or something like that. This is probably true, but I feel much more efficient and space-saver-y when I roll things up into tiny little tubes.)
Step two is to then pack the things you want, but not ones that are too extravagant. For instance, your favorite hoodie is now good to go! However, especially if you’re going home for a holiday as short as Thanksgiving break, seriously maybe rethink the gaming system. (Can you tell that there’s a running theme in my inner packing conflict?) I may not have mentioned this before, but bear in mind that your end goal for packing is to bring as little stuff as possible. Unless you’re going home for the summer, you don’t need half your wardrobe; if you’re going home for a month (aka Christmas break), it’s probably okay to bring your  PlayStation or Xbox. However, this is when you also need to consider how likely you are to use it. Is the bandwidth at your house good enough to online game? Will you even have an opportunity to use the TV? (As an aside: don’t pack your TV to bring home with you. Just – don’t do that.) This can also be applied to your wardrobe choices. If your family believes strongly in saving money on heating, or has a misguided concept that 60- anything  degrees is a reasonable temperature at which to exist during the winter months, maybe pack a couple extra long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. If they keep the house too hot for your liking, some of your favorite T-shirts may be in order. Also, bear in mind that it’s a holiday! People will be taking pictures! Probably outside, for that Truly Festive Feel which families big on holiday photos seek to attain.
Finally, we come to step three, which is not appealing but probably ought to be done: look through what you’ve packed and take some stuff out. If you are a Good and Experienced Packer, I’m still not sure why you’re reading this article but I’m glad you’re here. If you are someone who desperately needs packing advice, like me, then this step is essential for the both of us. You’ve definitely probably packed at least 5 more things than you’ll strictly need. Call your parents and ask what you have at home, if you have to. If your parents say, “you have more than enough clothes here,” then you can probably take out two of the three pairs of jeans you packed. Your stuffed animals will be fine for a week, and even a month, without you. The socks – okay, the socks are kind of cool, the socks can stay. LEAVE THE GAME SYSTEM BEHIND, you don’t need it and you won’t use it because you’ll be too busy being festive. Look. Stop. Just… put it back. I’m arguing for myself as much as I am for you. This is a joint effort, guys.
Last, but not least – try not to stress over it too much! The holidays are a time to relax, have fun, and stuff your face with food that people far more experienced in the area of cooking than you have made. (This probably means that you will have to do the dishes, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s kind of a fair tradeoff.) You will be moving back into the same apartment or dorm room next semester. Your extra two pairs of jeans and your stuffed animals will still be there when you get back. Your family wants to binge-watch that one show with you instead of watching you run quest missions on your video game. Your pets want you to take them on walks. Love life. Live the dream. And happy holidays! They are coming, and my body is ready.

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