I'm a pretty good packer. It doesn't matter if it's a quick weekend or a week's stay, I make it all fit in my rolling, fits-in-the-overhead-bins bag. It's the stand-by thing – don't take more than you can carry on. I think packing well is genetic, though, because no one will ever beat Farmor (Father's mother) at packing.
She didn't just pack, she “prov packade” which translates from Swedish to “try packing”, as in a full dry run. I think part of her (some may say overkill) method was due to their long trips to the US throughout my childhood. “Must fit as much as possible, I'm going to be gone a long time.” The other was that she spent all those trips carefully bringing us our heirloom china, one precious, carefully packed piece at a time.
To “prov packa” she'd get out everything she was going to be bringing, and then spend HOURS trying different ways to make it all fit her suitcases. Shoes always contained something breakable, inside a sock or stocking, rolled up, and shoved into the toe. A pair of underwear might fill the rest of the shoe. Shoes were nestle-wrapped in pajamas. Farfar's shirts were meticulously folded to preserve the careful ironing she'd done.
When she had it all the way she wanted it, she'd make notes, sometimes a quick sketch, before she put everything back. I think all this work that we might see as unnecessary also made her feel more in control. She had fibromyalgia and traveling was very hard on her body, as was the climate change to the US. Being prepared was something she did in every facet of her life, but it came out in spades when traveling.
She also knew the carry-on rules by heart. They were different back then (thanks a lot TSA...) and she took full advantage of all she was allowed. One of her carry-ons would contain precious china, meticulously wrapped. Her traveling purse was always the biggest she owned. More china. One was also allowed a small bag of reading material. She loved her magazines, and knew that I did too, and missed them, so she'd fill that “small bag” as full as she could. Of course one could carry on a coat. Pockets were full. Farfar was of course similarly outfitted.
I learned a lot from her. When I travel, my suitcase contains more than you would imagine could fit. Not quite Harry Potter walking into the small tent at the Quidditch World's Cup and discovering an entire apartment, but it's impressive.
I've also given up on the “big purse” idea and take a very large laptop bag (on wheels, thanks DataBoy for upgrading and giving me this treasure – it's Swiss Army – LOTS of pockets) instead. My very small purse is IN the laptop bag. Laptop bag fits easily under the seat in front of me.
I do enjoy traveling. I don't enjoy the rude travelers I so often encounter. But if you're well packed, once you reach your destination you can put that behind you and enjoy your vacation.
Do you do a trial run of packing? Have you ever heard of it before? What bothers you about traveling today? What's your favorite thing about traveling? Did your grandmother pass on some neat skills to you?