In 1979 Joan Didion published her packing list in her book The White Album. Didion included her must haves for young professional women who traveled extensively. Since I am forever trying to compile the perfect packing list, I immediately sought out her list. The list reads:
To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor,
deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder,
2 legal pads and pens
Didion's list is compact with only what would be considered bare necessities by today's standards. I do love the idea of a skirt over a leotard but candidly isn't that what Chico's is all about...stretchy fabric for the 50 plus crowd.
I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to packing and yet, I always travel with more than Didion's allotted two pair of shoes Didion. I pack a pair of running shoes, flip-flops (Are they really even shoes?), a pair of casual shoes and a pair of dress shoes though I don't travel with a pair of robe slippers.
I was amused to see that she traveled with her own bottle of bourbon and that she had to remind herself to take cigarettes. Today, the TSA won't let you carry any receptacle containing more than 3 ounces of liquid through security and smoking on all domestic flights has been banned since 2000. I did smugly chuckle to myself when I read she lugged around a typewriter when traveling until it dawned on me that I travel with an iPhone, an iPad, a camera and my computer for writing.
As I age my priorities have changed. I don't carry a big suitcase any more even if it has wheels. Once on a trip to Portugal, I took my largest suitcase. The thing was so big that it wouldn't fit in the trunk of my small foreign rental car. The case rode upright in the backseat like an uninvited chaperone, mocking me the whole trip. Aging bellman struggled to carry this dresser size case up multiple flights of stairs since none of the quaint places I booked had elevators. I was mortified in my belief that the Portuguese were laughing at me behind my back.
Unlike in the past, I am not opposed to wearing the same thing twice if I have access to a washing machine. Additionally, when I was younger I would travel with my own shampoo and conditioner because well, because my hair was special and I needed special hair care products. Today, I use what's available and if necessary, make a quick run to the store to get what I need. As you can see my specialness wore off with the creation of the TSA and the increased cost of checked luggage.
In addition to losing the items already mentioned, I would leave behind the mohair throw, the legal pads and files. My flies are on Drop Box, my legal pads are electronic and a mohair throw is a romantic notion that would end up being "just one more thing" to keep up with in the airport. I would add to her list a bathing suit. I take one no matter where I am going because you just never know.
My biggest tip...keep it light and fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. Oh, also ship your gifts to loved ones early and avoid carrying anything other than a good book on the plane. Don't let struggling with luggage, gifts or mohair throws make the journey stressful. Take a page from Baloo, the bear, from The Jungle Book Look for the bare necessities/The simple bare necessities/Forget about your worries and your strife. Lighten your load both in life and when traveling and you will enjoy your journey more.