(Photo: from vintage cards on Etsy)
"Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you've come to mow its lawns." David Sedaris
I am going to really need a miracle to get my suitcase closed this time. More than two weeks before my trip to Italy, and my packing list as yet in no way resembles the packing list advocated by www.onebag.com. Or any other packing guru's list of do's; instead, mine matches most packing guru's list of don'ts.
This shouldn't be so hard. The beauty of traveling to Italy in June is that the weather really should be very predictable. Hot and humid. This should lighten the packing load, right? In fall, one worries about uneven weather. Sweaters, tights, a raincoat, a few pairs of shoes are all important to have, but add to the suitcase weight.
But June? Should be easy. A few sandals, some T-shirts and I should be good to go. Maybe a shrug or 2, just to cover the shoulders if it becomes cool at night.
As if!! I couldn't pack that light for an overnight trip to someone's cottage.
Still, I dream of packing light. It's my constant goal, like losing weight, learning to love my long, elegant feet, performing a head stand in yoga. Learning to do my own nails. Will any of these ever happen? Not likely. But a girl can dream.
So, I've been pouring over the many suggestions on onebag.com. At this point, however, instead of suggesting things to pitch overboard, onebag just reminds me of things to ADD that I might otherwise have never considered. Like a flat rubber sink stopper. I have never seen a hotel bathroom sink that actually holds water for more than about 5 minutes. This makes it challenging to wash out underwear or T-shirts in the hotel sink. That said, I don't actually know how long I should be soaking travel clothes to get them clean -- assuming everyday kind of grime and not, say, beer that has been dumped down your shirt or baby vomit. Soaking for 30 minutes? An hour? Is that enough?
I digress. Into the suitcase goes the flat rubber stop. It can also be used to twist the lids of jars, by the way. This may not be so handy in hotel rooms, but you never know. What if I start drinking wine out of jars?
Back to packing. Maybe I can get by with 2 pair of sandals -- one that I wear on the plane, and one packed. That way, if one sandal is eaten by bears, I'll have a second pair. I would love to have the option of buying another pair in Italy, but Italian designers don't produce much for my long, elegant size 12 feet. I guess no Italian woman has a similar kind of feet!
At least I can skip the coat; maybe one blazer, aforementioned shrugs; no jeans, no pants at all. Just cotton skirts.
Actually, it's the appliances and the personal care products that really weigh me down. And let's not discuss the travel iron; that's essential. I can't bear to be rumpled. But the 2 big bottles of contact lens solution are killers. When will Alcon sell Optifree solution in Italy? Is there a good replacement, 5-second-cleaning-and-soaking solution? Mind you, as I use up solution, it frees room in my suitcase for wheels of Parmigiana cheese. Or jars of honey.
And books. I'll take only my Cadogan guide for Emilia Romagna and a small guide to Umbria. But I need a few novels and mysteries as well -- I have to always have fiction to read so I can relax. Lightweight paperbacks don't weigh much but do take up space. I have to learn to leave them behind when I've finished reading them for other travelers.
Ultimately, I don't think onebag.com and I have quite the same philosophy. It suggests basically 2 tops, 2 bottoms and 3 pair of underwear are all a traveler needs. That's fine if you don't mind looking as if you've arrived in Italy to mow lawns. But not quite my style.......