I like to think of myself as a light packer. I don’t believe that this is actually true, since I also like to always be prepared for anything that might happen.
Is there a drought? I probably need my rain jacket just in case.
Is there a heat wave? I need an extra sweater.
Will there be enough pillows? No, definitely not the right ones, I should bring my own.
And you can’t forget your duct tape and dental floss. You know. Just in case.
But, will I be gone for two weeks? I should be able to carry everything just by myself.
Unless, I’m going by car. Then, a week spent at the lake can fill up my trunk. Granted, I am including everything I need, plus everything my husband needs, plus everything my daughter needs, plus a stroller. And food. And games and toys. And five books. Make that twenty.
I’ve got to be prepared.
But I want to pack light. I don’t want to bring anything extraneous. I pride myself on using all the clothes that I have packed for an excursion. Or at least only have one shirt left over that I didn’t get around to wearing. You never know when dinner will fall in your lap when you have a two year old.
Before I was married, I was able to pack for a weekend in my Shanzu bag the size of a medium purse. I could fit everything in there. Even a towel. (Because if you have a towel, then folks know you are prepared.)
Now that I plan for more than just myself, I seem to carry more with me.
This is probably about more than packing.
Now, when we travel, we go together. It means that when we travel, we go in the car, and we venture to places that a two year old can explore.
I like to travel light and fly far and spend all day out exploring.
But these days I travel with extra snacks and clothes and toys and books and music. And we make sure that there is always a space in the day for a lengthy nap.
Truly, though, it’s not so much where I go than who I get to go with.
Over the past two years, I have not spent a night away from my daughter. She’s gone everywhere I have gone. I’ve seen the world through her eyes. At her pace. We wander and explore and take breaks and stop to examine the cracks in the sidewalk. We play in fountains. We watch the birds. We crash in the waves. We hear roller-coasters roar. We share snacks.
Probably the first night I will spend away from my daughter will be the night I am in labor with my second-born child. It will be a different kind of adventure than all the ones that I have gone on for the past two years, but one that I hope will be familiar, since I went through a similar journey during my first labor with my daughter.
I will take too much with me. The drive will be both longer and shorter than I remember, probably counted in contractions rather than minutes or miles. Depending on how fast labor intensifies, I don’t even know who all of my traveling companions will be.
But the most important thing about traveling is being on the same page with your companions. One of the first things I did with my husband when we began our relationship is travel with him, because I knew that I needed to know that we could travel together, in agreement with each other. We’ve learned each other’s idiosyncrasies, and now we are more and more on the same page when we travel.
Adding a child to our travel plans changed we way we didn’t things, but we kept communicating and learning from each other. Soon we will add yet another child, and so our rhythm will change again. We will have to remember that we don’t know everything we think we know.
Choosing to travel with companions is humbling. You can’t always have your way. But if you have the right companions, you can have a much better time than if you were alone. You will end up with a memory that changes you both, forever.