Monday, September 12, 2011

Germany 4: First world panicking packer disorder

I don't want to bore you guys with my first world problems of Oh my I had to take a sudden trip to Munich and that is stressful.

But that is my world. I am very fortunate not to have real problems. I know I am lucky and I am grateful.

Side note: Those people who did the research where they discovered that first worlders get more depressed than third worlders? And they can't figure out why? How about because if your main concern every day is finding enough to eat, you don't have time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself? The women I worked with in Chile lived on subsistence farms without indoor plumbing or electricity. Their homes had dirt floors. Yet I never once heard any of them complain about their living situation or about having to bathe with ice-cold water. Maybe they just didn't whine to strangers or maybe they just got on with things.

Back to my whining.

Usually, when I go on a trip, I have a lot of notice, which gives me plenty of time to plan and make lists. I get guidebooks at the library and I figure out what I'm going to wear and what to pack. I start packing a week before departure by laying items out on the dining room table, which we use for dining only when we have company, which is not that often, which means clothes can sit there without bothering anyone.

But this time, I had about 24 hours' notice.

I panicked.

I brought everything, Just In Case.

Here is what I packed and how it was used:

One pair of jeans. Unworn.

One pair of brown slacks. Unworn

One skirt: Worn.

Two dresses. Both worn, one on the plane.

Two silky nice blouses. Unworn because turns out SH does not like how the brown spotted silky blouse looks with the brown skirt. I like it, but we were going to dinner with his co-workers, so whatever. Doesn't mean I won't wear it at home, but I am using this event the next time he wants to wear his mustard-yellow polo that I hate. NOBODY looks good in mustard yellow. Nobody. Even SH.

One light cotton pullover. Worn once.

Four t-shirts. Three unworn, one worn three days.

Running shoes and clothes. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Apparently, I learn nothing from history, which is that in all my life, I have NEVER gone running on vacation abroad. BTW, running shoes are very bulky. Without them, I probably could have brought a carry-on bag.

One pair of cowboy boots that turned out to have razor blades concealed under the insoles and a pair of black sandals which served me quite well for the five km hike up to the abbey/brewery on Saturday.

Lots of tupperware and ziplocks and two small coolers for all the cheese I was going to buy because I didn't pay attention to the exchange rate before I left and because I forgot that cheese is available in Wisconsin.

I paid attention once we arrived. Guess what? Twenty euros a kilo for Beemster goat is not such a good deal when you realize that that translates to (about, Gary, ABOUT, so no snarky comments about how 20 x $1.40 <> $30) about $30 a kilo and said cheese can be purchased from PennMac for $16/lb plus shipping, which is a little more than the German price but not enough to make it worth it to add ten pounds to your luggage.

Two purses. Yes you read that right. Two purses. Because I have a purse that is great for walking around town in a place I don't know: it's small but large enough for the basics (two pairs of glasses, wallet, handkerchief, small camera, phone, passport), it has a strap that goes across my shoulder so I don't have to hold it, and it has a flap that closes with a latch so it's hard to get into. I worry about pickpockets.

But it's not really big enough for being on the plane, when I need immediate access to a book and a bottle of water and a third pair of reading glasses. So glad I paid for those expensive bifocals. They've been worth it. Which is why I brought a purse for on the plane and one for when I am walking around town. Had I had more time to plan, I surely would have thought, Two purses! How dumb is that! I can get by with one. But - I panicked.

And then the books. Oh, the books.

One of my biggest travel fears is not that terrorists will blow up the plane but that I will run out of reading material and will be bored. I do not handle boredom well.

I took five books.

In addition, I bought a guidebook and another novel at the used bookstore at the airport. As I had five minutes allotted for this task and the owner was helping me, I did not do my due diligence.

I spend $8 on a guidebook that is 27 years old.

I know Munich is a lot older than 27 years and most of the information is probably still good, but that wasn't even the main issue. Had I bothered to spend a minute or two flipping through the guide, I would have realized that I really did not want a book that merely gave me an alphabetical listing of everything there was to see in the city with no value judgments whatsoever.

SH, however, did focus on the 27 year old issue. And if I had noticed that part, I probably would have used that as a disqualifier.

Considering I never opened the book once while we were there, other than to say, "Well this won't be a lot of help," I have to say that was a big fat waste of money. Now we are the proud owners of a useless 27-year old, $8 guide to Munich.

Of the novels, I realized 100 pages into novel #1 that I had read it before. I think. At least I had read the beginning. I started novel #2 and it was fine. Went back for #1 later in the trip and discovered I had left it on the plane. I don't know if I had actually ever finished it or if I had started it once and thought, "Wait! This is a 75 cent paperback from Goodwill! I should save it for a trip sometime!" Now I will never know how it ends. Unless I get it from the library. Which I could do.

I am not a spontaneous person. I should not do spontaneous things. I do not do them well. I had fun on this trip and I am glad I went, but my packing was a big fat FAIL.


Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

I know you like paper books, but I encourage you to consider getting an e-reader, especially given how much you read when you travel. The difference between an e-reader and those books you packed is 5-10 pounds. Think of all the Nutella you could have carried back if you hadn't had all those books. :-)

Seriously though, I took my Nook on our last two big trips and it was fabulous not having all my luggage weight given over to reading material.

Rubi said...

I'm with Jen. I have a Nook color that I'm taking with me to Madrid for three months because I also suffer from "I may not have anything to read" syndrome and in the past have packed my weight in books. (Also shoes and purses, because one must accessorize, but that's different.)

Plus more and more library systems have digital books to lend online -- even in backwards Vo' Dilan, for 21 whole days. (Can't wait to see if I can do it from overseas...)

Lindy D. said...

I don't own a Nook or a Kindle either. I keep a small stash of used paperback books that I know I will enjoy, just for traveling. I leave them behind or throw them in the recycling bin once read. I think the airport book store is a rip-off! Have you tried Half-Price books?

Class factotum said...

I don't know that I'm ready to make the jump to electronic reading. Reading off a screen is really hard on my eyes b/c of my astigmatism.

Lindy, the airport bookstore is good for an emergency, but I usually stock up on used books at Goodwill and the library.