Confession time: I am the probably among the world’s worse travelers when it comes to packing.
When I go on a trip, even a weekend trip, I have a tendency to over pack. This is particularly true when I’m driving. I will take at least two suitcases, an ice chest, a minimum of five books and quite possibly the kitchen sink.
I think it goes back to my childhood. I was a Campfire Girl. Like Girl Scouts, we were taught to always be prepared. You never know, for instance, whether there will be a freak ice storm in August, or a heat wave in January. You never know whether you’ll be tempted to go to a formal restaurant or a Kentucky Fried Chicken window. And I must have at least two bathing suits and at least one coverup for frequent trips to a pool.
I know. Excuses. Excuses. But I can’t help myself. I’m a packaholic.
Everyone has their most admired person. My most admired person is Libby Hall, president of RWA when I first went on the board. We had ten day meetings in July – three to four days of board meetings and six days of conference. Most of us dragged huge oversized suitcases, book bags, carry-ons and purses large enough for a Great Dane. Libby carried one carry-on for all ten days. Ten days! Ten days of parties and formal events and presiding over luncheons and dinners, etc. Wonder of all wonders.
I was shamed but, unfortunately, not shamed enough to change my profligate packing.
So I was bemused — while researching a new western series – to find a recommended wardrobe for one man embarking on a three-month journey across the western plains. It comes from “The Prairie Traveler,” the Best-Selling Handbook for American Pioneers (published 1859).
Here it is:
2 blue or red flannel overshirts, open in front, with buttons.
2 woolen undershirts.
2 pairs thick cotton drawers.
4 pairs woollen socks
2 pairs cotton socks.
4 colored silk handkerchiefs.
2 pair stout shoes, for footmen.
1 pair boots, for horsemen.
1 pair shoes, for horsemen.
1 gutta percha poncho.
1 broad-brimmed hat of soft felt.
1 comb and brush.
1 pound Castile soap.
3 pounds bar soap for washing clothes (for three months?)
1 belt-knife and small whet-stone.
Stout linen thread, large needles, a bit of beeswax, a few buttons, paper of pins and a thimble, all contained in a small buckskin or stout cloth bag.
Being written by a man, it doesn’t deign to offer advice on women’s wear, but I would guess it would be two dresses, two pair of cotton drawers, etc.
I fear I would make a terrible pioneer, but the above information provides some inspiration. Perhaps on the next weekend trip, I can leave the kitchen sink at home.