I am one of those people who has always been terrible at packing. One of many things will happen on almost every trip: I don’t have the right stuff, I don’t have warm enough stuff, or, more often than not, I have way too much stuff. I like to bring way too many items “just in case.” Just in case these jeans get dirty, I should bring a second pair. Just in case I finish this book, I should bring 3 more. Just in case we want to go sledding, I better bring my snow boots. Just in case I want to check my email, I should bring my laptop. Just in case I want a different scarf with this outfit, I better bring 5 scarves. Just in case I come along a dog that needs a home, I should bring this pair of dog dishes.
Ok, it’s not quite that bad. But it’s not good.
My first trip to Europe at age 20, I learned my lesson after lugging a rather gigantic suitcase around the countryside of France. My second trip to Europe, I downsized quite a bit and still found myself with too many cute shirts that I never ended up wearing. Worse, I didn’t have enough warmth for the drizzly winter weather of England. My third trip to Europe, I downsized even more still and ended up with one small suitcase and a much more reasonable amount of clothing overall. I was making progress, slowly but surely over the course of several long trips. My slightly anal-retentive and overprepared side was being pushed aside by the general annoyance of overpacking and carrying around too many heavy bags.
This time, I am going on the longest trip of my life — a little less than three months by the time we get back — and have managed to fit everything into a backpack and one small suitcase, the latter of which I am donating to some country in Asia at the end of my trip because I will no longer need the items in it anymore. I basically had to throw my “just in case” attitude out the window. No, I do not need a laptop. No, I do not need my snow boots or 5 scarves or even 1 scarf. I don’t need a dog dish — as shocking as that is. Those things don’t matter in the end. I even replaced my stack of paper books, a great love of mine, with a small, compact Kindle and a pocket-sized Bible.
Instead, I’m trading out my material “just in case” list for a “just in case” list of a much higher caliber.
Just in case, I am going to need:
- An open mind to try new things, try new food and make new friends of all types
- A willing heart to serve others
- A trust in God for the challenging days
- An awesome traveling companion (my brother Tom)
- And my journal to record every. last. detail.
Just in case you happen to be thinking of us, send a thought and a prayer our way. We will be in Asia by the time I post again.
P.S. Old habits die hard and I’m not completely cured: I did sneak in an extra bottle of sunscreen for our fair-skinned Norwegian selves, some 40% deet mosquito spray and a bag of various types of medicine… Just in case.