On Packing

The more I travel, the more I prove I am totally incapable of packing appropriately for my destination.


I was fine in Paris.  Springtime in Paris is not hard to predict – it will be chilly and raining.  

Then we went to Spain.  “Summer in Europe!” I thought, “Just one step up from spring in Europe!”

Yeah, not so much.  The south of Spain and Paris are about as alike as…nothing.  My pants and walking shoes and jackets were laughably inappropriate for June in Andalusia.  I quickly discovered this, and went on a mission to obtain breezy skirts and sandals.

(At least here in Sweden we blend in, physically.  No one pegs us for tourists until they try to speak to us, and they usually try Swedish first.  In Spain I stood out like a sore thumb.  Or a Scandinavian in the Mediterranean.  I was a floppy, sweaty mess.  I am not built for tropical climates.  They break me.  In that respect, it’s good to be home.)

Last year, we went to California for vacation.  “California in summer!  Sweet!”  I thought.  Again, fail.  Northern CA is NOT southern CA.  I forced Drea and Josh to take me to Old Navy so I could buy a sweatshirt.

Now, we are in Sweden.  “It’s just like Minnesota,” I thought, “I’ll pack what I wear in Minnesota.”  I’m not too far off.  But I do think we’ve found the one place that is chillier in June than Minneapolis.  Plus it’s raining. 

Oh yeah, then there’s the white socks.  “I’m packing my Keen’s, I usually wear white socks with those,” I thought, so pretty much all I brought was white socks.  Major mistake.  I really don’t know what came over me with that one.  I wear white socks with my Keen’s, sure, but only when I am also wearing my ankle brace, or when I’m on my feet at the theater all day.  Definitely not when I’m going anywhere where people may see me.  Like out on the town in Goteborg on a Saturday night.


So, sometime this afternoon I will head to H&M, and get myself some dark socks.  And a couple of extra long sleeve shirts.  And maybe, just maybe, some day all these experiences will add up and when I arrive at my destination I will open my suitcase and smile.


2 responses to “On Packing

  • broadsideblog

    The joy of travel! It’s always a challenge to travel light and have the layers you need and still look great and place-appropriate. I always take a few shawls and scarves that add color and warmth to almost anything. I was in Banff in -30 weather and was very glad to have cashmere, even indoors. If you ever come to NY, where I live, bring and wear lots of black. That’ll do it, in every season.

  • Dan Pinkerton

    Mother Nature has a wonderful sense of humor. For Ariel’s wedding, everybody looked at the papers and said, “100 degree temperatures! I’m bringing nylon shorts and tank tops, and a rayon sundress for the wedding!” But a cold front came in just before the wedding, so they froze to death at the Twins game (night time, rain, high 50s) and longed for sweaters at the wedding (temperature in the mid-60s).

    All of us start out packing layers of clothing so that we’re ready for *anything* — but the suitcase starts to fill and to make room, we start saying, “Nah, won’t need that,” and whatever “that” turns out to be is what we really needed. The consolation is that whatever you pick up in Goteborg will be a clothing item you’ll treasure for years as a souvenir of a wonderful trip (e.g., the white fedora I bought in Naples).

    The other thing you have to research, though, is culture. Italian men wear sweaters or sport coats everywhere, even when it’s really hot. They wear stylish hats, too. Without this, everyone will know you’re a tourist, and you’ll be *socially* underdressed almost all the time. The above comments about NYC are sort of an American version of dressing for culture rather than weather. I’ve actually had to learn to wear a little less black if I’m gonna be out in NYC summer sun.

    Finally, if you’re going to Norway, I hope you brought really good rain gear. If so, you can pat yourself on the back for that. If not, I guarantee it will be cheaper to buy it in Sweden than in Norway. Nuff said!

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