December 17, 2014


I'm trying something new this year when packing for the annual trek to New Hampshire for Christmas. My normal travel style is to pack as light as possible while being completely thorough as to prevent the need to purchase any forgotten item upon arrival. Oh, and I get a little deranged while packing. Nothing serious and not contagious - it's definitely genetic - but unpleasant nonetheless for anyone who might inadvertently interrupt the lengthy process. Like that person with whom I live and who has exactly the opposite packing strategy? Yeah, him.

So, to avoid raising my own anxiety level even a smidge by racking my brain (and checking twice for reassurance) for every last one of the regular items we take when we travel, and to prevent the Hubs from having to tiptoe and make himself scarce for a couple of hours, a simple tool: the travel list.

At one of the art galleries where I used to work we used a checklist for event preparation. The first time I was involved in an opening reception, I scoffed at the simplicity of the list. Frankly, I found it insulting to my own good sense. Of course I would lower the temperature on the thermostat in the gallery in time to counterbalance the heat generated by a crush of warm bodies. Of course I would stock the restroom with ample amounts of soap, towels and tp. Of course I would remember to put out the snacks and wine. But here's the thing. After that first reception I added to the check list. Made it more thorough. Indeed, I strove to make it idiot proof. Why? Because it helped. For regular but infrequent tasks, following that and other check lists allowed me to prepare effectively and efficiently without having to think about it. Calm and smooth sailing, indeed.

A few other things we do to make our air travel as smooth and pleasant as possible:
1. Make things easy for airport staff.
I take my own kitchen knives to my parents' house at Christmas. Obviously they go into the checked bag and obviously TSA will want to open up that bag and take a look at them. So I wrap the knives safely in kitchen towels, put a big "kitchen knives" label on the swathed bundle, and place it at the very top of the bag so they don't have to dig for it. 

2. Leave plenty of extra time.
I admit I struggle with this one. I would rather get to the airport with just enough time to check my bag, get through security, and get on the flight right before it leaves. Sure, I've sometimes cut it close and needed to run like blazes, and there was that time I had to sweet talk security into letting us bypass the long line, but I haven't ever missed a flight. That said, the Hubs's strategy of arriving early takes the anxiety out of the equation. We also try to book enough time into layovers to not only make the connection, but feed and water ourselves and take a bathroom break. This may sound like common sense, and it probably is, but it's novel to me.

3. Keep earplugs easily accessible.
This one is for me alone. I can't stand the incessant noise of airports. The chatter of waiting passengers is easy enough to tune out (or sometimes interesting enough to eavesdrop), but the constant LOUD television drivel sends me over the edge. Perhaps it's only the airports we frequent, but it is next to impossible to find a quiet spot out of television range to wait. Earplugs save the day.
4. Bring more than one diversion.
This may sound like it contradicts my edict to pack light, but I don't think so. A deck of cards, a book, and a compact knitting project don't take much space nor add much weight. And depending on my mood, my level of drowsiness, and bumpiness of the flight, I will have at least one thing with which I feel like keeping myself occupied.

Happy Chanukkah, friends.


  1. Your a girl after my own heart! Without lists I am lost and not just for traveling either. If it's written down and I can get the satisfaction of ticking it off - literally - then all is calm and I know I won't forget it. Those other suggestions are absolutes as well and I completely agree on the televisions, although they are not quite so invasive in Aussie airports - not yet anyway. Happy Chanukkah to you and your family.

    1. I LOVE LISTS!
      A friend of mine has a different take on lists. Instead of making a super-long, overwhelming "to do" list, he writes down tasks as he accomplishes them. I tried it once and must say it does provide a wonderful sense of productivity.

    2. Ha, I do both! Travel list aside, if it's the "today" list I cross out anything accomplished by the end of the day AND write down whatever else I did while being sidetracked so I can follow up a moment later by crossing it out. I'm a little nuts, but a happy nut and I figure it would have been on that list if I'd remembered about it at the time of writing the original tasks :-) I'm sure there's got to be some over-achiever psychological issues in that one but let's dwell on the satisfying, productive side :-)

  2. ps/ I love that luggage tag!

    1. Isn't it great? I can't remember where it came from, but I do recall justifying the cost to myself as "research." Because if I ever make luggage tags, they need to be as awesome as this one.

    2. and very worthwhile research too!