When we first made the decision to hit the road for an indefinite amount of time the idea of what to pack was extremely daunting. I took a deep, deliberate breath and quickly devised a strategy of how and what to pack. The most important aspect of a packing plan was focusing on what we really would need along the way.
- When the pandemic hit things like disinfectant cleaners, toilet paper, flour, yeast, etc... were hard to come by. In fear of a second surge, and limited supplies hitting stores again, I packed two huge fresh direct bags stuffed with toilet paper, hand sanitizers, surgical masks, flour, yeast, clorox wipes, and disinfectant cleaning supplies along with some of my favorite cooking condiments that are not always easy to find. These bags take up a lot of space and have become a nuisance but they certainly make me feel safe and prepared if we encounter limited supplies again.
- Two saxophones. It was important to us that our boys continue with their instrument practice while we are away so these were considered significant items to pack. Too bad we couldn't throw a piano into the trunk for our daughter!
- A backpack that stores a basketball. We have definitely shot some hoops along the journey and the backpack is part of our daily routine storing our water bottles, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes while we are out and about exploring.
- A medium sized duffel bag filled with our vitamins, a garlic press (I really hate using other people's garlic presses they never seem to be cleaned correctly), a pastry brush ( dislike sharing these too), items needed for Shabbat (siddur, challah cover, candles, etc...), a menorah for Hanukkah, red string from Rachel's Tomb (we need as much protection as we can get as we travel during 2020's path of insanity), Halloween cupcake liners (I had a bunch at home so I brought them along) and pastry bags with tips for those fun baking projects.
- Each child packed their own carry on and back pack filled with their summer clothes, toiletries, and books. In their luggage, they were encouraged to pack five outfits, two pajamas, and seven socks/underwear, flip flops, a hat and two bathing suits. If they had any extra room they were allowed to add whatever else they wanted. They all chose to add their sleeping doll buddies that they've had since birth and have traveled with everywhere we've been, two of the kiddos chose to include their gumball machines, one added a baseball mitt and baseballs, and our daughter packed two dance uniforms which came in handy since we signed her up for virtual dance classes. I loved seeing what was important to them and what they chose as essential items to pack. In their backpacks they were asked to pack as many books as possible. Except for my hubby, we are all devout readers so books are definitely essential items we cannot live without.
- For myself, I packed a large suitcase filled with seven summer dresses, sneakers, two pairs of sandals, flip flops, three pajamas, light cardigans, three bathing suits and cover ups and four workout outfits. This has gotten me through two months on the road easily. In fact, I may have even overpacked! The rest of the real estate in my large suitcase was reserved for several of my books, a journal, one large toiletry bag, two smaller toiletry bags, and whatever my husband couldn't fit in his duffel bag, like his large toiletry bag.
- My husband packed a medium sized duffel bag. So easy.
Did we overpack?
It's amazing how little we really need to be comfortable. I think of all the clothes and shoes in my closet back home and get nauseous at the superlatively of it all. Despite the relatively light packing we managed, there are things we didn't need at all. Like our sons portable baseball net and baseball tee stand. I knew this was a bad idea but he begged me to bring it along and promised me he would use it. In two months he has maybe used it six times. This takes up lots of space under their feet and we may just have to leave it behind. I probably didn't need my gym outfits. Sadly, I haven't been working out but I do like having them nearby just in case I catch my fitness bug again soon.
Summer is over, so what to wear next?
Since we didn't know how long we would be traveling for, I prepacked clearly marked boxes according to seasons so that our incredibly helpful doorman can send us the boxes we need when we need them. There are four boxes waiting to be shipped along the way: Fall clothes, Winter clothes, Ski Gear, and a box with more books and a printer. Next week we will have our Fall clothes and books/printer sent to us and we will in return ship our summer clothes and all the books we have already read over the past two months. I'm excited for the swap and even more excited to see what I packed two months ago. I have a feeling that what I considered essential then is not what I consider essential any longer.
Overall, less is really more. On this trip I have truly learned that all we really need is to be healthy, surrounded by people we love, great adventures, a laundry machine and excellent WiFi. COVID has taught me that everything else is insignificant. Packing eight more outfits and three more pairs of shoes would not have enhanced our experience in any way. On the contrary, more "stuff" would have just bogged us down. Keeping this in mind, when you pack for your next journey remember that the only thing you'll need is a full heart, an open mind and a few pairs of clean underwear.