A Pack-Rat’s Parable: on Traveling with too Much Stuff

I tend to over-pack. 

I admit it.  It’s a sickness.

It might even be a curse—who knows?

However, when you travel as much as I do, it becomes a problem—

A big problem.

This issue arises every time I go almost anywhere—the grocery store, the gym, even a restaurant or my mother’s house.  Heck, I even carry too much to the bathroom, if I think my stay there may be extended—a book, a notebook, a pen, a drink, a phone, sometimes 2 phones—maybe a magazine.  It all adds up.

Sara insists this calls for an intervention.  She thinks she’ll fix me.  That she can help me “edit”—her word.  And admittedly, she has a reasonable investment in my reform, as often she ends up carrying my stuff, lugging it all over the planet—quite literally.

This is why she bought me a Kindle—afraid when last  year we moved to Vietnam, where there’s not an abundance of reading material in English—that I would bring the inventory of a small university library along for the ride—that she would have to carry it.

Wise woman!

However, this week’s trip from Port-au-Prince home to Kentucky, has challenged even my advanced luggaging skills.  Even more so, since I was bringing Lucy back with me—a dog as carry-on baggage—a canine complication on top of my already dogged determination to carry too much stuff. 

When will I ever learn?

This complicating of already complicated carrying manifested itself most clearly yesterday morning in Miami.

I was running late—unusual for the chronically early like me.  I had to take Lucy outside the airport to use her version of public toilet.  She took too long. 

She wouldn’t pee!

Never did!

I was pissed!

So I loaded Lucy back into her black back-pack carrier, hurried back into the hotel to collect my 3 remaining bags—a yellow and brown messenger bag, a standard carry-on-sized suitcase, and another 55 pound monster—at least 100 kilos, if I’m doing the math right. (I’m not good at math.)

The woman at the hotel’s front desk mistakenly directed me to the American Airlines check-in in Concourse E, where the hotel is, rather than Concourse D—where I needed to be.  I stood in line for a good 15 minutes before an airport official indicated what no signage did, that this counter only handled check-in for passengers headed to Haiti—which two weeks from now will indeed be my destination.

For now—I was headed in the opposite direction—which meant trying to transport my abundant belongings outside for a 15 minute lumber to what could only be considered an outpost of the same airport.

It was far.

I was carrying a lot.

When I finally arrived at Concourse D, I tried to check in by swiping my passport.  

Didn’t work.

When I did succeed by typing in my name and destination city, the machine recognized but rejected me because of the pet, at which point an actual human being intervened, only to send me to yet another, though in the same terminal, distant location. 

Again I “luggaged.”

The clock was ticking.

Unbelievably, the third counter didn’t like me either, returned me, cursing the entire way, to location number 3.

There the slowest pet-check-in-specialist in aviation history had nearly completed the process, when I was reduced to begging, “Please hurry.  I’m going to miss my flight.”

“OOOOOOOOOOOh, you have plentyyyyyyyyyyy of tiiiiiiiiiime.”

“Not if you have anything to do with it.” I think.

However, her sloooooooowly articulated, cloooooooooosing words, were less than comforting, “Gate number 50.  Youuuuuuuuu have a longgggggg way to gooooooooo!”

No kidding!

Only after being rejected yet once more during the security check for, you guessed it, tooooooooooo many carry-on bags, did I finally persuade the less-than-friendly luggage Nazi, that I had paid 100 extra US dollars for the privilege of bringing my dog along.  I had to show the receipt.

You get the picture.

There’s ALWAYS a complication because of the bags, especially when Sara isn’t along to help carry!

Maybe she’s right.

Maybe there should be an intervention.

In the meantime, I’ll have to further sharpen my Sherpa skills—

Do they offer advanced degrees in “bag-lady?”

(By the way, me and all my bags are finally home!)

13 thoughts on “A Pack-Rat’s Parable: on Traveling with too Much Stuff

  1. Wow! Sounds like an ordeal. Glad you are home though.

    I’ve always loved the sound of Kentucky. I think I drove through Kentucky enroute to Myrtle Beach many, many years ago. I remember seeing long stretches of ranches as we passed through. I also remember seeing blue grass.


  2. 3 pants, 5 shirts, 2 underwear (wash at nite), 2 shoes (wear one), socks, dress up sweater, jacket (wear), a piece of jewlery to dress up, jamies you can lounge or sleep in.

    There you go. Fits nicely into Rick’s Steves carry on luggage.

    Now help me figure out how to pack – brush, hairspray, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, rollers, lotion, deorderant, and makeup.

    That’s what takes the room up! and you can’t carry on the anything that doesn’t fit into a small baggie! grrrrr


  3. I feel your pain, Kathy…I have a huge purse because I always end up carrying other people’s stuff! I’m not known for my light packing either…I like to be prepared for every eventuality!

    Glad you made your flight, and are hopefully relaxing at home!



  4. Glad you made it home. 🙂

    I had to laugh at this, but not at you. At myself. I am the same way. I carry way too much, always wanting to be prepared for whatever eventualities I can think of (and there are always plenty!). I would like to work on this someday and learn to travel light.


    • You too? Wendy said the same thing. It’s all about being prepared for any eventuality! Couldn’t agree more. I don’t know if I will ever learn to travel lightly—though I suppose I’m better than I used to be–but not much!


  5. I really shouldn’t read your posts on my phone, in bed, in the middle of the night . . . had to muffle my laughter under the duvet! At your writing, not your predicament. I also do NOT travel light, so understand that totally.


  6. Kathryn,
    Have a safe trip home! I am AmblerAngel’s sister, I live in Somerset. Maybe we can meet for Indian buffet or something in Lexington. I would love to hear about what you do! If not soon, definitely when she is here this summer! Take care , Dannette


    • Hi Dannette–

      How great to hear from you! I would love to get together!

      Sorry this is so brief, but our power keeps going out, so I want to get this out before we lose it again.

      But did you see Emily’s post was Freshly Pressed? No one seems to have commented on that fact yet on the blog. Does Emily know? Just emailed her myself.



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