About two weeks ago we were given a list of mandatory things to bring. The list wasn't long- our swim suits and a short list of speedo clothes we got. (USA Water Polo has a contract with Speedo so we need to wear their swim suits and clothes on the pool deck.) Those things were neatly folded and ready to go in the bag in seconds....that was the easy part. Then I had to think about the month I would be gone and exactly what else I would need.
Here are things I have learned over the years:
1.I will need toiletries like shampoo, face wash, body lotion, tooth paste....Packing normal size anything makes my bag heavy and takes up space. But being on a month long trip, I need to pack enough of my favorite things so that I have them for the duration. If I can buy the items where I am going....then I just pack one travel size of each and buy more as needed. But if I am going to a place where buying things in not an option, I pack a few travel size containers of each thing. They are small and can fit in the random space in my bag. As I use them up, I throw the containers away and my bag gets lighter and has more space-to fill with all the things I buy while on the trip. OH! And I ALWAYS put them inside plastic bags. With the way our bags get thrown around there is always something that explodes.
2. I always pack more underwear than I need.
3. If I can- I make my carry-on a little roller bag. Walking through the giant terminals and waiting in security lines with a huge bag/backpack full of heavy things like books, snacks, a water bottle and a computer is sure to make my back hurt. Factor in some quality time in those extremely comfortable airplane seats and my whole body hurts. Unless you are lucky and fly Business Class, rollers are the way to go!
4. Packing anything electronic? I always double check I have the cords to recharge them. Frustrating times without them!
5. An added bonus if I have room are things that may make me sleep better- my own pillow, an alarm clock, and a prescription of Ambien. Because everything on a trip is better if I am well rested. :)
After a few trips to Target and rummaging thorough my room, the pile next to all my Speedo stuff had grown quite a bit. (There were three books, an i-pod, my computer, sunglasses, assorted snacks, a bag of starburst, a camera, my FlipVideo, room decorations, a teddy bear, a weight belt.....your get the picture) Now how was I going to fit all of that into a two foot long roller bag and a backpack? I couldn't take a large roller bag because on our way to China we were stopping in San Jose for Team USA Processing (I'll go into that in detail later) and I was going to be getting a lot of team apparel and a few bags there. So we were told to fit our stuff in the smallest amount of space possible.
Of course I managed to do it. I did have to re-pack it a few times when things didn't fit. I guess I should look at it like a game or a puzzle and it would be more fun. But I'm still leaning towards a machine that does if for me.
Here we are boarding the plane for China.....
And then we landed 12 hours later to be greeted by one of the Olympic mascots!!!