Pack Like a Man, Dress Like a Woman

Pack Like a Man, Dress Like a Woman.  I’ve decided to make this my new life motto.

Some people are OVERachievers.

Some people are OVERreactors.

Some people are OVERrated.

I…(shameful head hang)…am an OVERpacker.

The thing is, you really never know when you’re going to need TWO pair of glasses…even though you wear contacts.  And speaking of back-ups, that explains why I (er, some people) bring two laptops…two contact cases, two books…okay fine, maybe three, and 11 pairs of underwear.  Then there’s my lips.  I bring lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss, lip tints, and of course the traditional SPF 15 chap stick.  Surely I’m not the only one who panics at the thought of being stranded without the options of Juneberry, Kalahari Clay and Peony.  Surely not.

Where there is space in my suitcase(s) I fill it.  Where there are secret compartments, I stuff them.  Where there is potential to squeeze a few more “essentials” in if I could just (grunt) sit on this (uff-da) bag while zipping it (almost there!) maybe-standing-slash-jumping will help (groan)…YES!…I do it.  Which poses a problem on what is known as The Return Flight.  To give an example, let us travel back to Christmas 2005…

I was living in Oregon and had flown back to Minnesota for the holidays.  Of course my bag was packed to perfection, with just enough room to squeeze in a gift or two for the return flight home.  Pre-Planning = GOOD.  I made a Target run while in the homeland, when-what-to-my-wondering-eyes-should-appear, but SIX (count them) yes, SIX shiny new hand weights.  In that moment, all rational thinking left me as I became caught up in the emotional, passionate, burning desire to own those SIX shiny new hand weights.  Did I consider the fact that Target also exists in Oregon?  Do you think I pondered what this additional 54 additional pounds would do to my luggage?  Being the OVERzealous, OVERpacker that I am, I bought the weights.  Compulsive Purchase = BAD.

Standing at the airline ticket counter, I heaved my 493.2 lb bag onto the scale.  The man raised his eyebrows and looked at me over the brim of his glasses as if to say, “You have GOT to be kidding me right now.”  Instead he politely shared that my suitcase was far too heavy, and “what’s in there anyways…(insert chuckle)…hand weights?”

Don’t ask.

Unzipping my suitcase, I began the process of putting on as MANY layers of clothes as possible, as he continued to watch the numbers on the scale slowly fall, shaking his head as if to say, “Sorry, but you’re not quite there yet!”  I was sweating by this point, and rightly so.  Sporting my jeans with a pair of sweatpants over them, along with 5 shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, a winter fleece and my ski jacket, pockets bulging with an OVERabundance of socks and underwear, I was JUST about to start filling my pants legs with sweaters when he stopped me and said, “You’ve got just 12 lbs to go!”

12 lbs…12 lbs…the solution was so simple!  Why hadn’t I thought of this before?  I grabbed one of the 12 lb weights and stuffed it into my carry-on.  Done and done.

He checked my suitcase, printed my ticket, and off I waddled to the security line feeling OVERconfident with my packing skills…not to mention a little OVERheated.  Most people need 1-2 bins at the security checkpoint for their personal belongings.  This particular day I used roughly 17 of them.  My sweaters, sweatshirts, fleeces, tshirts, sweatpants, underwear, socks, lip glosses, laptop(s), winter coat, mittens, hat, and the kitchen sink all made it through just fine.  It was when my carry-on slid under that security cam on the conveyor belt that things changed…

(man staring at screen with quizzical look)  “Mindy, will you come over here a second…”

(man and Mindy staring at screen with quizzical look) “Jim, will you come over here a second…”

(man, Mindy and Jim staring at screen with quizzical looks)  “Tina, will you come over here a second…”

(man, Mindy, Jim and Tina star…)  You get the picture.

“Step aside ma’am.  Step aside.”  This is what I heard as I stuffed the last of my underwear down the front of my shirt.  I figured if I was going to stuff it somewhere, I might as well make the best of things.  Waddling over to the security crew, they unzipped my bag and said grimly, “We have some bad news.  Any hand weight over 5 lbs is considered a weapon.  We’re going to have to confiscate this.” 

That flight back to Oregon was long and lonely without that hand weight.  Staring at the clouds out the window, I was filled with deep regret.  If only I wasn’t such an OVERpacker, this never would have happened, I thought.  Glancing across the aisle I saw a man wearing 1 shirt, 1 pair of pants, and carrying 1 simple briefcase.  How do they do it?  I wondered as I glanced down at my underwear enhancements. How do they do it…?

I’ve always dreamed of Packing Like a Man…but Dressing Like a Woman.  As I sit here, bouncing up-and-down on my purple suitcase wondering how many layers of pants I’m going to have to sport home this trip, I am once again convicted that…

…maybe business trips aren’t the best time to go to Estate Sales in hunt for glassware.

…perhaps if someone gives you a new mop while on vacation, it’s best to have it shipped.

…could checking be a potential tool that prevents me from packing 12 sweatshirts when the temps are stuck in the 80’s?

…and (nervous eye shift) at what point should you consider attending Lip Gloss Addicts Anonymous?

My name is Jen.  And I am an OVERpacker.

6 comments On Pack Like a Man, Dress Like a Woman

  • Oh jen, I always love your posts! I use to be such an overpacker! But having kids and being too poor to pay to check my bags has changed that! Want to borrow my kids for a weekend 😉

  • Oh Jen; you are your mothers daughter!

  • michelle hamburger

    My name is Michelle, and I too am an overpacker.

    Mom found a set of hand-weights in the basement that could replace what was confiscated. We could send them back with you when you fly in for Christmas. Lemme know…

  • I think I may have told you this already, but don’t feel too bad because I have friend that had a ‘too heavy suitcase’ and when she opened it up to see how she could juggle things around… she realized it was all of those Blocks of CHEESE that made it so heavy..
    dang cheese– only in Wisconsin!
    At least you didn’t have to stuff cheese anywhere..
    happy trails to you friend!

  • You COULD pack like Dad – all you need is a paper bag. Or then there is Grandma who buys (or finds one at a garage sale) another suitcase at her destination so she has more room to take things home with her. 🙂

  • I feel silly commenting on something that’s from 3 months ago, but this just made me laugh so much. For all my over-planning and what-ifs, I believe I have mastered (almost) the man-pack. (hint: jeans match everything, and the smaller you can roll a shirt, the more shirts you can pack. ~motivation~). Best of luck to you. 🙂

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