Confessions of a Self-Proclaimed Over-packer

Packing for a Visit to the Holy Land and Places in Between.

Former Red Oxx Public Relations intern Kat Healy learned the hard way why traveling with wheeled luggage perhaps isn’t the best idea. She shares with us her experience in packing clothes for a month-long adventure — what to take and what to leave behind.

Since I worked for a luggage company known for one-bag travel, it’s a bit embarrassing when I fill an entire car for a weekend trip. Thirteen outfits for two days/three nights, four pairs of shoes, a light coat, a heavy coat, a medium-weight coat, two bathing suits… overkill, I know (even for Montana).

So as I started packing for my month-long adventure, I was determined to take only a Sky Train and a CPA.

It just didn’t happen. It could have, but it didn’t.

To the dismay of my longtime neighbor (and Red Oxx CEO) Jim, and the most efficient packer in the domestic United States, his wife Amanda, — I took a wheeled suitcase. I rationalized my decision by blaming my itinerary: quick three-day stop in Minneapolis, Christmas in Chicago, New Year’s in New York, and part of January in Israel. It meant packing for a sludgy New York City winter, arctic wind in Chicago, and anything from sun to rain in Israel. (As it turned out, Israel had the craziest weather it’s had in 20 years. Torrential rains flooded parts of Tel Aviv. It snowed in Jerusalem. Waves hit 23 feet in the Mediterranean Sea and sandstorms cut short our camel ride in the Negev Desert).

I decided I would check a suitcase and take my Rock Hopper with camera gear as my personal item.

As soon as I landed, I cursed myself for bringing wheeled luggage. Dragging my new suitcase through the snow in Minneapolis, I felt like a travel rookie. Worse, I needed help getting it up the outside stairs to my friend’s apartment, and then help bringing it downstairs to where I was staying.

As I struggled to get my luggage to my next stop, a friends’ third floor apartment in Chicago, I cringed at the thought of hitting the uncarpeted stairs. Navigating the ‘L’ train in Chicago had been terrible, but at least there was an occasional urine-soaked elevator.

It wasn’t until I attempted to pull my rolling suitcase up a long cobblestone road (the narrow streets in Jerusalem made it impossible to drop us off near the hotel) I vowed never to travel with wheels. (Note: I have the utmost respect for my choice of wheeled bag. I was incredibly impressed with it sustaining only one minor injury—a lost screw on the outside shell—during my entire month of abuse.)

A few things I learned (the hard way) while traveling:

  • Although I brought plenty of different outfits, no one will ever know just how cute they were because I spent the entire trip wearing one (of three) different jackets.
  • If you follow my parent’s mantra “wear lots of layers”, it means you will carry quite a lot of clothing around with you in your day pack.
  • I definitely did not need to bring high heels, two different pairs of leather boots, flip flops, sneakers, and an additional pair of leather zip-up heeled English riding boots.
  • I didn’t really use two separate converters and an adapter.
  • Books are heavy (I now understand why people like their tablets and Kindles).
  • Warm socks are the single most important thing to splurge on if you are traveling someplace cold.
  • Traveling in a large tour group makes you feel a bit like an elementary school student.
  • No matter how tired you are on the return trip — when they direct you to take a shuttle to a different airport– triple check which airport, so that you don’t end up in LaGuardia when you need to be in Newark.
  • Also, don’t use the first Google maps location listed for the MET in NYC because it will direct you to the gift shop (which is located at Rockefeller Center, not in the MET).
  • Scarves are easy to pack but I didn’t need four of them.
  • Don’t buy anything you don’t want to carry home with you. Like thousands of other tourists, I bought mud in Israel. Like, I actually paid money for nicely packaged pouches of mud from the Dead Sea.
  • Always pack something you can use in case you buy too much stuff to take home. I wouldn’t have been able to fit everything back into my suitcase after 30 days of shopping, so I’m glad I packed a Small Aviator bag.

I have come up with an easy way to pack for my next vacation:

Pull out everything in your laundry basket from the last week. Wash and pack it.

~Kat

We loved Kat’s story, finding it to be quite amusing and very helpful. We look forward to Kat filling us in on the juicy details of her stay in Chicago, New York and of course, Israel.

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