Welcome me back from vacation! I mean, if you call a 5-day church conference a vacation, which I certainly do.
Ok, maybe vacation is a bit of a stretch, but I did leave my home city, had new experiences, and hung out with friends and family, which I consider some of the key proponents of a vacation. Did I mention that I had a great time?
One of the hardest things about going out of town for me is knowing what to pack. I find it hard sometimes to strike a balance between bringing everything I might need if the apocalypse were to occur and want to be able to carry everything on my person.
And while my anxiety induced list-making might not be the healthiest coping skill, it has taught me how to pare things down to some “essential” categories.
1. Sensory Busting: My apartment is an ecosystem, a sensitively balanced space centered around my senses. It fits my sensory needs perfected the majority of the time, and when it doesn’t, say for example on the 4th of July (damn fireworks!), I can bring it back into tune quickly. My home environment is nearly perfect. The rest of the world is….not. Which is why it is so important to pack enough tools to regulate whatever foreign environment you’ve found yourself in. So you start easy- stim toys. All your favorites, plus an extra or two. Next stim, things that manipulate your environment. Include earplugs, headphones (noise canceling if you’ve got ’em!), and blue light glasses to cut down the glare of fluorescent lights. Lastly, comfort things. Weighted objects, your favorite stuffed animal, and comfort movies. All things that will make away from home seem more like home.
2. Weird Hygiene: Even in my home environment, hygiene is a struggle for me. I can sum it up as: I hate being wet, shampoo feels funny, and toothpaste has a weird texture. And for the most part, it doesn’t matter all that much. I don’t leave the house all that often, and I hit the biracial hair jackpot, and it doesn’t require that much washing. Still, packing bathroom stuff takes some extra brain power, because not only do you need your standard hygiene kit: toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, contact solution, but there are sneaky, extra things you need to pack. Like sunscreen! I don’t usually spend enough time outside to need it, but in a new place in the middle of summer, I wouldn’t be caught without it! I also don’t go anywhere new without wipes. They have so many uses- if my hands get sticky, if my deodorant runs out, or even if my shaky hands spill a latte down my front. This is one of those categories that I think it’s ok to over-pack a bit. You definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you need something but don’t have it.
3. Clothes Math: Picture it: I’m in my hotel room, ready to get dressed. I pull out my suitcase and realize that for 7 days of traveling, I’ve packed 8 pairs of socks and only 2 shirts. This is, as you can imagine, highly problematic. I’m very lucky to be married to an A+ packer, so nothing this drastic has happened to me, but I’ve also never packed exactly the right amount of clothes that I’ll need for a trip. So, things that are important to pack: pants, shirts, socks, underwear, pajamas. But will I actually wear multiple pairs of pajamas? Where do sweatshirts fall into this? I know I think that I’ll change my socks every day, but that rarely happens. Shirts are changed every day, but pants aren’t. So many clothing rules! I’ve found that a few simple equations work for me, although I’ll still never leave the house without Jess double checking my math. So here they are: shirts = # of days away. Pants(or shorts or skirts)= .5* #number of days away. Socks & underwear = .5* # of days away. 2 sweatshirts of different weights. If summer, 1 vest. 2 pairs of pajama pants. Pajama shirts = pajama pants + 1. Worst case scenario, you wear something a little longer. And if you’ve referenced the previous bullet point, you’ll have plenty of deodorant and wipes, so no one will even know!
4. Amusement: Sometimes the only way I can handle being out in the world and of my route is through good old fashion distraction. This conference I was at last week was in a massive convention center, with more than 3000 attendees, and if I hadn’t been able to find a dark corner every once and a while, I would have lost my tiny autistic mind. Now I know this about myself and remembered to pack accordingly. I think I did pretty well in abiding by the not over-packing rule in every category except one, which I’ll get to in a moment. I packed my game boy, and a variety of games (included by not limited to: Kingdom Hearts, Minecraft, and Pokémon). I packed some small, two-player board games, which ended up working out great. Jess and I managed to grab some coffee and found a quiet area and played some of our favorites. Both of these things were not only distracting but calming- they were like little bits of my routine away from home. Now back to the over-packing. I have a kindle. It has about 50 books on it. It’s light and portable and it totally should have been enough…But I still packed 2 paperbacks just in case…and bought 2 more while I was there…I have a book problem, please don’t judge me.
Well there we are, I think I’ve covered all of my packing essentials! This is based off the rough draft of my pre-pre-pre packing list, which ended up working out pretty well for me. I was pretty successful, except for the fact that I wore the same socks 5 days in a row, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Can you think of any packing essentials that I missed? That will blow my mind and totally change the way that I pack? Let me know! Blow my world!