First off, let me just say that I have had a longtime love of packing for trips. Maybe even just packing in general. When I was a kid, after the back-to-school shopping was done, I would pack and re-pack my backpack, pencil case and binders in the days and weeks leading up to going back to school. Anytime I was going on a trip I would make lists of what to bring. I typed them out on the Apple IIe when we got one and every computer thereafter.

Even now, when I get to go somewhere for work or pleasure, I love the whole process of packing and making sure I have everything I need. I follow some of my dad’s advice to try and use everything, at least once, in order to justify having packed it. I have space bags and shoe bags and know how to pad the liquids to avoid leakage. I know that if I forget something I can always buy a replacement, but it is annoying to buy something you already have just because of an oversight. (I have spent many rainy days walking to meetings without an umbrella because I have three perfectly good ones at home in my closet.)

So, given my love and talent for successful packing, I have been putting off finally trying to get all my stuff into the bags I have for this trip because I already know several things going into it:
     1) I have too much stuff to bring. (Especially considering I have to bring my own shelter, bedding, mattress, medical clinic…)
     2) My bags have to be under the size and weight restrictions.
     3) I have a lot of uncollected items that will still need to get in there. (camera, chargers, cords, sunglasses, trip papers, iPod, etc.)

I packed all I could into the big bag and then Brian expertly squished all he could into my new backpack. (I abandoned the big backpack in the fear that I would have to check it anyways, as it exceeds the size dimensions.) There was still a pile on the floor (gifts for the children, my travel Settlers of Catan game, camping pillow, shirts, my two pairs of pants), plus the before-mentioned extra things. Hmm, I opted for a cup of tea and reading the paper before we tried again.

We took everything out of the big bag. We started trying to figure out how to do it better. I opted to start this blog post while Brian tried to reconfigure. He called in from the next room and asked what else I needed to bring. The big bag was miraculously able to gain 10 more pounds, lessening the backpacks weight and overcrowding, bringing the checked bag to exactly 44 pounds – my exact limit for Air Madagascar. The backpack is now only half full. Then Brian said, “Now you just have to hope they don’t lose your bag because you won’t have any clothes.” I think I will cross that bridge when…well you know…

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