“Ugh,” my friend groaned in exasperation as we discussed how society views childless, unmarried women. “Why do people have to judge and label other people?”
“To try to know them,” I replied. “People label others who are different in an attempt to put them in a knowable, safe place.” I mimed putting an object in a shoe box and onto a shelf, “’There. I know you now. You are a spinster with all that entails.”
Sadly this is a common response in the world. We judge and label based on societal norms and our own values and experience. And as a rule, we like to be with people who have made the same life choices we have. It’s affirming and easy. People who are like us are tacitly saying we are okay and making the right life choices.
If you take a new path in life – move away, go to school, start a new career, marry, have children, change your beliefs or lifestyle – you can expect that many people will leave your sphere, either because they walk away or you disconnect from them.
The challenge and reward is embracing people who are different from you. They are the ones who will help you grow and develop a rich, multifaceted life.
I’ve taken my fair share of trips and learned a few things along the way about packing for vacation. This list isn’t complete. These are just points I’ve encountered that I’ve never seen covered in other travel tip lists.
- Plan what you’re going to wear. Pick a color palette. That way you’ll be able to assemble more outfits with fewer pieces of clothing because everything will coordinate with everything else. For example, for my next vacation, I have a palette of black, tan and red. I’m only packing black bottoms, a pair of red walking shoes and a pair of black ones and a pair of black dress shoes. All my tops will coordinate with each other and all tops work with all the bottoms. A few scarves will change up the look and yes, I will wear items more than once.
- Think through your entire outfit and your entire day/itinerary. I forgot to pack socks once and had to spend the entire first day of a business trip wearing boots and bare feet. Disastrous? No. But not ideal either. Similarly, I showed up at a resort with no pajamas. At home I sleep in the nude, but on this trip I was sharing a room with my gal pal, Cheryl, who luckily had brought extra pajamas.
- Wheeled suitcases are great and take the lug out of luggage. But you better be able to carry your suitcase, if necessary. Wheels fall off. Stairs and landings happen and sometimes – it’s happened to me – you will be required to hoist your luggage over your head and through a bus window. Besides, airlines charge extortionist rates for overweight luggage and who wants to start a vacation being slapped with a fee?
- As a solo traveller, I recommend you travel lightly enough that you and your suitcase will fit in a bathroom stall together. You cannot leave your luggage out unattended and do you really want to leave it with a stranger?
- Forgot trying to de-wrinkle clothes in a steamy bathroom. I make wrinkle releaser. Put 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of liquid fabric softener in a clean 500 ml (approximately 2 cup) spray bottle. When you arrive at your destination, fill the bottle with water. Spray this mixture on any wrinkled, washable clothing and hang. The wrinkles will fall right out. I haven’t ironed anything in years!
- Pack a few plastic bags. They’re great for your return trip when you’ll have dirty or wet clothing you want to store and possibly bottles of liquids (perfume, wine from a prince’s vineyard) that you don’t want leaking onto your gear.
My father had a curious fascination for excellent shoes and foundation garments.
He instilled a fear in me of wearing other people’s shoes. Used shoes were imbued with the peculiarities of the previous wearer’s gait and would cripple me for life, my father warned.
Similarly, I spent the first 20 years of my life sure I’d die of a kidney infection if I didn’t wear an undershirt on cold days. My mother would recall with a sigh the cashmere underwear and camisole she was given on their first wedding anniversary.
Laugh as I may at my father’s dire fascination, he did have a point. Whatever comes between me and the earth has to be solid and supportive. We’re at our best with a strong foundation.
Wear the best shoes you can afford. I don’t mean the highest, pointiest, shiniest, Manolo Blahnik-est shoes. I mean the best ones for your feet, the ones that will support you, the ones that make your stride bold and sure.
Sleep on the best mattress you can afford. You spend a full third of your life sleeping. Do it on something that feels like a lullaby for your spine. You shouldn’t wake up with aches and sore spots from your bed.
If you drive, get the best tires you can afford. If you’re live in a snowy climate, yes, you do need snow tires for the winter. They make a difference in your ability to literally maneuver through the world.
And ladies, my father was right. Invest in some great foundation garments. A bra isn’t going to come between you and the earth (unless you’re doing burpees), but you cannot overestimate how a perfectly fitting, supportive bra can boost your confidence as well as your bosom.