“He who would travel happily must travel light” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery).
“Mom, seriously?” remarked Candace. “You really need all of this?”
“Well, you never know,” I said. “It might be hot. It might be cold.”
“Mom, take 5 outfits. Mix and match. You will be in different places. No one will ever see you in the same thing.”
I really should have listened to my wise, professional travel writer daughter. She knows exactly what to pack.
I took a few things out, but definitely not enough. And boy, oh, boy, did I pay the price.
For fourteen days, I lugged around (well, Candace actually lugged it quite a bit), one very heavy suitcase. My shoulders burned like fire from lifting, nudging, pulling, and oftentimes, dragging that darn thing on to trains, buses, and into restaurants and hotels. One man, a waiter in the first restaurant we visited after arriving in Prague, asked, “Stones? You have stones in here?” Talk about embarrassed.
A taxi driver asked, in broken English, “Corpse? You carrying around a dead body?”
Ugh. I was mortified.
God bless my daughter, because she never once said, “I told you so.” She really didn’t have to say it, I said it for her.
“Go ahead,” I said. “I deserve it. I am so sorry.” I apologized a million times, but it didn’t make my suitcase any lighter.
In fact, it got heavier. After attending a Wine and Folkloric Festival in Uherské Hradiště, I was forced to actually purchase an overload bag, because it wouldn’t all fit. I mean, c’mon, how could I resist traditional Czech crafts from my maternal homeland? I tried, I really did. But, in the end, I gave in.
Candace shook her head.
“Mom, I feel like I’m dealing with a toddler,” she’d say. “Practice self-control, please.”
One thing is certain…I provided a great deal of fodder for laughter. It was either laugh or cry or get real angry. So, we chose to laugh.
My suitcase timeout taught me several lessons:
- I overpack (laugh with me, not at me).
- I carry around a heavy load (i.e., baggage), that is highly unnecessary. In fact, I didn’t have a hairdryer for five days in Uhersky Brod and my hair did just fine. Okay, it was a little rooster-like in the beginning of the day, but it calmed down as we went along. No one but my vanity and ego cared a lick.
- UNPACK. Let go and leave behind the unnecessary load. Unpack, defined, “to remove the contents of; to unburden or reveal.” Every time we left a place, I unloaded a little something. More about this in Part II.
- Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. IF I had done this before I left and carried a lighter load, my journey would have been so much better. Oh, we made it and we laughed alot, but my heavy suitcase was a burden. I felt so bad for my daughter. It really stressed her out at times. If only I had listened…..
- There is a price to pay for carrying around highly unnecessary heavy loads: physical pain, emotional strain, and overall drain.
- CHANGE. Learn from my mistakes. I thought I learned this lesson after my 30-day trip to Europe back in 2009. I did better this time, but still not LIGHT enough. So, I’m going to make sure when I travel again, I’ll be wiser and more prepared. Less ego, more fun.
I thanked Candace a hundred times for putting up with my suitcase. But what I really need to thank her for is my suitcase timeout. All jokes aside, it made me realize that I don’t have to go through this life so heavy-laden. My shoulders don’t have to burn with pain. I can let go of my silly ego and enjoy life so much more.
Maybe, like me, you need a little suitcase timeout today. Are you carrying any unnecessary baggage? Do you need to unpack, i.e., let it go and leave it behind? Please learn from my mistakes and put it down. Stay tuned for Part II. We are going to become wiser and more prepared.