How to pack a carry-on, my wayward son

Lindsay was brave and competent enough to whip up a Thanksgiving dinner on her own in DC. Were I in charge of a holiday feast, Thanksgiving probably wouldn’t happen until sometime in March and would consist of hastily ordered Chinese food and a half-eaten bag of Chips Ahoy. Thus, I jetted home to Chicago for the long weekend to enjoy a more humanizing meal with family and friends.

Since my move to DC a year ago, I have been back to Chicago seven times. Between holidays, weddings and family obligations, it seems as if I’m always Metro-ing off to Reagan after work to pop in and out for a weekend away. To maximize my time at home and minimize expenditure, I have never checked a bag. I instead manage wee trips with a backpack as my carry-on. I am sure a lot of people do this without much trouble, but they are probably lower maintenance than I am.
Weekend packing for vain and/or particular people takes a bit more effort, so here are my tips for quick trips.

Have a uniform conceptualized
In my case, this is usually tights, a dress and a little sweater or jacket. More specifically, this probably means the same tights and sweater three days in a row (note: I never said I was a role model. Also, my feet don’t sweat much, because I am sort of lazy.) If you wear the sweater and tights on the plane, you needs must only pack a few rolled knit dresses in your backpack for an entire weekend of relative sartorial variety. This also leaves a bit of room in your backpack for stuff you need to bring back, like things you buy at thrift stores in Chicago since thrift stores in DC are terrible. Um, hypothetically.

Consider your neutrals
Make sure that the heels you pack go with each of the sweater/dress/tights combos you have allotted for. You already know that, right? Also, I am talking specifically about dark brown and black. Any other neutrals can be paired. Are you one of those people who thinks that navy and black can’t work together? Sneeze my fashion dust, cliché robot. Navy and black are actually sort of awesome together. So are black and tan. Olive and khaki? Sure! I just can’t share a martini with chocolate and black, though. So, ruminate over that. Or, just be prepared to drink your martini alone.

Fly out of DCA
This might be controversial. Like anyone, I adore saving a buck or several. I too have been tempted to scrimp by going for an obscure flight out of Baltimore or Dulles. And yet, nothing serves as quite apt a metaphor for human misery as a trip to Dulles Airport. I have never even been to Baltimore, but I have indeed seen all five seasons of The Wire, which I am led to believe is a more realistic depiction of the city than Hairspray. This isn’t even a packing tip, really. Except that whatever vices or weapons you may have to stash in your bag to get through the Dulles or BWI experience will weigh you down considerably.

Limit your goo
The biggest downside of the carry-on strategy is the fact that gels and aerosols cannot join you. Acquiring travel size toiletries demands more planning than I am willing to invest, so I generally just figure out ways to survive without goo at all. This means planning hairstyles that don’t require gel or spray, and just washing my face with whatever soap I find at my destination. And probably not washing my hair at all. And not bringing jars of jelly everywhere I go.

Don’t take packing advice from me
In writing this post, I have discovered how truly terrible I am at it. Also, I just realized I left my hair straightener in Chicago. Hope you’re glad to have me back, DC.

– a wavy-maned Natalie

About Natalie Shure

literature, life and latte lady

3 Responses to “How to pack a carry-on, my wayward son”

  1. Wayward is misspelled!

  2. My little cousin always asks me why I never wear jeans, she hasn’t had to travel much yet, she doesn’t understand the miracle that is a one piece outfit 🙂

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