Packing with a Plan

Readers,

A month from now I’ll be in London for the Fashion and Textile Museum’s short course Tailoring with Savile Row Tailors.  More than a week ago I started thinking  about what to pack in case I needed time to sew or buy something for this trip.

I’ve traveled quite a lot and packed many a suitcase in my time. More than a decade ago, I saw how many preparations are the same from trip to trip and wrote out a stack of index cards as memory aids.

Before there were apps there were index cards. My travel reminders.

Before there were apps there were index cards. My travel reminders.

Nevertheless, every trip has characteristics that distinguish it from all the others I’ve taken that may influence what I pack. That’s the puzzle I still have to work out every time. What will be or could be different this time that I could plan for? (Would it surprise you that I scored high in foresight in that battery of tests I took at the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation?)

Can my chart help me think about this?

Test-driving my chart. Can it help me plan a travel wardrobe?

Test-driving my chart. Can it help me plan a travel wardrobe?

Well, when I pack for a trip I think a lot about what I’ll be doing. What occasions will I or might I participate in? (I’m using “occasion” until I find a better way to describe activities governed by some kind of social rules.)

  • a class at a museum taught by a master tailor
  • going through airport security
  • flying
  • eating out with classmates
  • going to fabric stores with local sewing bloggers

What would I expect the moods of these occasions to be?

  • friendly
  • respectful
  • serious (airport security)

    A candidate for this trip: one of the jackets I made from a 1941 pattern.

    A candidate for this trip: one of the jackets I made from a 1941 pattern.

What physical activities will I do?

  • hoisting my suitcase on and off trains and up and down flights of stairs
  • walking miles of city streets
  • reading maps
  • sitting in airports, on planes, and in the classroom
  • sleeping (trying to, anyway) on planes
  • hand-stitching in class
  • photographing
  • writing by hand and on computer
  • doing light housekeeping at the flat where I’ll be staying
  • doing mat-type Pilates exercises at the flat

You get the idea.

Light, warm, washable--and I can sleep in it on the plane.

Light, warm, washable–and I can sleep in it on the plane.

What roles will I be playing on this trip?

  • passenger
  • student
  • classmate
  • tourist
  • diner
  • shopper
  • blogger
  • photographer

What physical conditions will I encounter?

  • On the plane: could be drafty, overheated or underheated, and cramped. There could be glaring light, or noise from passengers or the plane.
  • London: darkness. Short, overcast days. Chilly, damp, raw weather. Possibly windy, especially near the river. Rain, maybe even snow.
  • London Underground and train platforms: chilly
  • Indoors: probably fine, but could be drafty

    Wool jacket, cashmere sweater: a start to an outfit for London in January.

    Wool jacket, cashmere sweater: a start to an outfit for London in January.

Answering these questions helped me visualize my trip so much better than before:

  • Walking along the Thames on a winter day with sleet stinging my face
  • Sleeping in a cramped position on the plane
  • Being around people who sew at a high level, or aspire to

And that helped me start gathering clothes for my trip.

Packing is when I become extra aware of how versatile garments for travel need to be. When I pull a clothing item for a trip, I ask, What other wardrobe items could this go with, and are they appropriate? What are the gaps?

Maybe the gap can be filled sewing from my stashes. What patterns, fabrics, and buttons could I use?

Maybe I'll sew something for this trip.

Maybe I’ll sew something for this trip.

Some gaps may have to be filled with purchases. I may look for sturdy, warm and dry shoes or boots for this trip.

All of these questions so far are about what I can reasonably expect based on past experience and present circumstances. But what about the future? What could I be moving into?

  • What new occasions might I be initiating or participating in?
  • What new roles could I be playing?
  • What new activities might I be undertaking on this trip, or as a result of it?

I don’t know yet, but they’ll probably involve getting things sewn.

I’ll be ready.

Test, test, test: can these categories really help me plan my wardrobe and travel better?

Test, test, test: can these categories really help me plan my wardrobe and travel better?

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4 thoughts on “Packing with a Plan

  1. Delightful! The one I always have to include is “Is there anyone where I am going that I would like to admire what I am wearing? Vanity does play into my packing, as well as functionality

  2. Wow. I thought I was a decently planned packer but you totally win.

    Remember however to leave space in your case! When I made the reverse trip last year (London to NY) I had 35 pounds/17kg of purchases!

    • I don’t feel like I’m that great a packer at all. I wrote out those travel cards because I dislike packing and get nervous about forgetting addresses, maps, socks…As for keeping space for souvenirs, the bag I’m taking has a zippered expansion space I rediscover to my relief on every trip. I’m also going to buy some of those nifty travel bags that compress clothes to about half the volume. I only wish those bags worked for shoes.

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