Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Do I Absolutely Need?

Today is Saturday and I just finished cramming most of what I need to survive in a third-world country for nearly two weeks in a backpack. It's a large backpack, but still, a backpack. I am leaving for Swaziland on Tuesday morning. Well, sort of. First my team has to get all of our bags loaded in a van, then drive to Chicago, then fly to Atlanta, then catch tremendously long flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and then, finally, drive the five hours to Swaziland.

I've never thought of myself as a particularly heavy packer. I know girls who go through three outfits a day. I only need one, thank you very much! I don't straighten, curl, or even blow dry my hair. I wear a minimal amount of makeup if I wear any at all. I always try to pack just what I absolutely need. But, as it turned out this time, what I absolutely needed wasn't able to be zipped closed in my bag. I tried rearranging again and again to no avail. I simply had too much stuff.

I was in a predicament. Most of this stuff was just what our team leader had instructed us to pack. But, clearly, something had to go!

"Okay," I thought, "What do I get rid of when I have everything I am supposed to have?"

I stared down into the chaotic tumble of travel items. The first thing that caught my attention was the mini pillow and blanket. These were not huge items. It wasn't like I was bringing a full sized pillow and a comforter, but did I really need both for the plane? No. The blanket could be folded to make a pillow if I needed it and I already had two sweatshirts with me. So, just like that, a surprisingly large chunk of space appeared.

Next came the shoes. Did I really need a pair for the carepoint, church, and the plane? No. The shoes I wore on the plane could very easily double as church shoes, so I chucked the shoes I had carefully matched with my dress for church into a pile in the corner.

I got rid of some skirts, t-shirts, pairs of socks, bras, and limited myself to one pair of jeans (sorry if that horrifies anyone). Eventually, the bag zipped and honestly, I am pretty sure that I am still over-prepared in the wipe, tissue, snack, medication, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, and soap department.

It's funny how much I still have even after stripping away nearly a quarter of what I was sure I needed. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if I got rid of a few more things before I leave on Tuesday!

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