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Posted by: | Posted on: April 5, 2015

You Packed What??? (in defense of packrats)

Camping on the California Coast

One of the first camping trips I took as an adult involved an overnight stay on the beach with my husband. The idea seemed great at the time: being alone, playing ball with the dogs, getting tans and falling into a glorious slumber surrounded by soft waves cascading in the near distance. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t thought of doing this before…until it came time to pack.

Where to begin packing for a camping trip? What to pack? What to leave behind? What if I make the wrong choice and am stranded in the middle of nowhere without that fourth kind of sunblock or with that magazine I chose over that book I should be reading? Should we bring more food lest we risk utter starvation?

I decided to play it safe and pack for any kind of foreseeable situation: various swimsuits, clothes, reading materials, several types of beverages, enough toiletries to make it through the Sahara for a month… the list goes on. Just pack it all, I thought. Just leave whatever you won’t need in the truck.

Off to the beach we went! And how well we did unloading and setting up the large tent, followed by the gazebo tent – both requiring intense assembling; then the barbeque pit, the large cooler, chairs, table, and so forth…and then, we went about our business.

It didn’t occur to me until the next day, as we grumbled our way through stuffing tent poles into a too-tiny bag under the unrelenting blare of the sun, how incredibly burdensome all this stuff became. Packing the still-folded tanks and shorts, followed by the hoisting of the cooler back into the cab with all those drinks swimming around in their little ice pool, made me wonder about my relationship with these objects.

Didn’t the point of getting away entail unshackling one’s self from the cumbersome, ho-humness of the everyday ordinary? If that was the case, why did I decide to bring it all with us on our mini-getaway? Did we really need seven types of flashlights in varying sizes and colors? I think not!

That whole exercise taught me a very important lesson:

Going away means letting go.

It’s about leaving your comfort zone and gaining confidence in yourself and what you’re doing, rather than focusing unnecessary thought and energy on those items which simply weigh a person down.

Everybody else will tell you to pack light and then describe how to stuff everything you’ll need into an overnight bag the size of your cell phone — with food included. Not me.

I implore you to take it all so you can gain an understanding on why you probably needed to get away in the first place. So pack those bags. Pack them to the gills. That way, you’ll know exactly what you should be leaving behind.

– Judith Lyle