Join the Slow Packing Movement

When I worked at Zagat, I often heard about the Slow Food movement, which emphasizes seasonal, locally produced fare eaten leisurely in the company of others (as opposed to going to your local fast-food drive-through and wolfing it down alone in your car). And, I’m aware of the Slow Travel movement, which would certainly disapprove of many of my fast-paced trips (although I loved them all). But now I’d like to introduce the Slow Packing movement… It’s taken me two days to pack for my two-week trip to Alaska and I’m still not done. Slow packing just comes naturally to me — and with some practice, it can feel just as natural to you.

I’m going on an Alaska Twitter Press Trip with Princess Cruises, a “cruisetour” that involves a land component (including Denali Park!) and then of course a cruise from Whittier to Vancouver. I’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #FollowMeAtSea and of course blogging. The trip is going to be amazing, but it’s not so easy to pack for.  The weather’s unpredictable (70s and sunny? 40s and rainy? something in between?), I’ll be doing active pursuits (hiking, rafting) and not-so active pursuits (cruising, train traveling), and there are two formal-dress dinners in there.

My tendency toward extreme indecisive helps me pack slowly. You need to be able to deliberate for at least 10 minutes over which shirt to bring. Sometimes you end up bringing both, sometimes neither. And if you end up bringing just one of them, you can be certain that at some point during your trip, you’ll wish you had the other one. Now substitute “pants” or “dress” for “shirt” and you get the point. And don’t even get me started on toiletries. Oh, and take lots of breaks to do other things (like blog) while you pack. That really helps drag it out.

Unlike Slow Food and Slow Travel which want you to slow down to enjoy their respective pursuits, the Slow Packing movement isn’t really there to help you enjoy packing — just tolerate it. It’s actually for people who hate packing. One would think that traveling frequently would make you a better packer, or at least not hate it, but that’s not the case. When I had my Joy of Spa contest, I noticed that several seasoned travel writers wrote that packing was what stressed them out most about traveling. That made me a feel a lot better, but not as good as I’ll feel when my suitcase is finally zipped and ready to go — and that will probably be five minutes before it’s time to leave for the airport tomorrow morning.

Are you a good packer? If so, please share your secrets!

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11 Responses to Join the Slow Packing Movement

  1. Chris June 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm #

    I need to join the movement. I always drag out the luggage 30 days before sailing for a cruise. This might not take longer but I did have to think more about it!

  2. Gray June 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    You are describing me to a T. I start thinking about what I’ll pack and draw up a list well in advance of my trip, but when I actually start pulling clothes out of the closet a couple of days before my trip, I find I change my mind about various articles of clothing several times. I agonize about how many pairs of shoes to bring. I try not to put anything IN my suitcase until I know exactly what I am bringing, so the heavy stuff can go on the bottom. I’ve got to say though, I don’t think this makes me enjoy the process any more. It just “is”. :-)

  3. Margo June 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    When I saw your tweet on this it cracked me up and I had to respond. I’m the worst – will stand staring at closet for hours. I’m all about the slow packing: I think I would have done very well back in the days of steamer trunks :)

  4. Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    Twitter: Niltiac
    June 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    I don’t mind packing (that doesn’t mean I’m good at it) but I HATE unpacking. It should be easy – since there’s no decision making really – but I just don’t like putting things away.

  5. Arlene June 13, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    I am getting ready for a trip to Vermont. Considering the temps here in Florida have been 95+ for the past 2 weeks, it is hard to figure out what I need there. I go in two weeks so I am just now starting to think about packing. I am a list person. I like to select complete outfits and lay them out in a spare bedroom, counting them against the number of days I will be on travel. Then I pair down and see what pieces can do double duty. As long as I cover the categories – day, evening, special events it usually works without overloading. I have found I can really make due with a lot less than I think I need. No matter where, I like a little jacket of some kind mostly for evenings.

  6. simon June 14, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    Slow Packing Movement… That’s a great idea! I love to travel and hate to pack. So lazy… Takes me days… Why? Because more thank packing I dislike carrying a lot of weigh. Thus I put things in the bag, put it on the balance, decide it’s too heavy and start to evaluate what I could take out…
    And I am even worse at unpacking! That drives me literally crazy…
    So… may I join the club?

  7. jessiev
    Twitter: WanderingEds
    June 14, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    LOVE IT!!! i loathe packing. more than just about anything. i’m in on your new movement!! have fun on your trip!

  8. Craig June 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Much more simple: create one packing list and use it aggressively. Once the list is created (and you can take as long as you want to formulate it) only pack the things on it. Suddenly, packing takes 10 minutes!

  9. Donna Hull June 15, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I was a member of the movement before you even started it! I’m a slow packer. When my husband and I travel on long cruises, we start organizing to pack about 3 weeks ahead of time. Our goal is to complete the packing and other pre-trip duties early so that the day before we leave can be relaxing. It’s horrible to start out on a trip exhausted from packing and planning. Been there, done that but not anymore.

  10. Vera Marie Badertscher
    Twitter: pen4hire
    June 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I’m in. Although I use a packing list at the end of the process, as Craig recommends, it only says “three tops” for instance–not WHICH tops. So, like Arlene, I lay out everything I might possibly want a couple of weeks beforehand–adding and subtracting every day until I’ve subtracted enough to satisfy my packing list master. (Craig obviously never has to decide between that new hot pink oh-so-cute tee that doesn’t go with anything and the old standard black blouse.)

  11. Jen Laceda June 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    I like slow packing over days versus my husband’s last-minute packing. I just get a bit paranoid about things I may forget, but for sure will remember over the course of my packing days. And since we’re travelling with kids usually, our secret to packing well is to put EVERYTHING in Zip Lock bags! That way, we compartmentalize everything for easy pull out AND we have extra bags for wet / soiled / dirty / re-wearable clothes to keep them organized separately. Have fun at sea! Can’t wait to read about your adventures in Alaska! I have never been to a cruise and would love to go on one – preferrably HAWAII !!

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