By land, by air or by sea, whether you are traveling over a school break, gearing up for a summer trip, or just found out you’ll be spending a research year abroad there are always myriad questions one asks when preparing to travel. What should I pack? What should I wear on the plane/train/boat/car ride? How formal will I need to be? What outwear should I bring? How many shoes will I need? and finally, How on earth am I going to get all this stuff into one bag?? Elizabeth Bishop has a few more philosophical questions in her poem “Questions of Travel”:
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?
This is one of my favorite poems, and while I (L.) have no answers for Bishop’s questions, I have compiled a few tips on the more basic travel and packing questions mentioned above.
When it comes to a long weekend, E. is a pro at packing for any occasion or climate it seems. She tackles what to pack for a wedding weekend in Colorado, what to pack for a warm weather weekend, and she even manages to pack for 14 days and three different climates, AND fits it all in one bag!
For a more formal event, like an academic conference, E. suggests bringing a few interchangeable items to mix things up depending on your mood. Of course, it is always nice to know that when you’re going to visit friends, chance are you can borrow things when you get there as well.
As for European get-aways, A. also figured out how to pack for 10-days and four countries all in one bag, and I briefly noted what I like to wear when flying “across the pond” as they say.
As far as packing for a longer stay, S. is by far our expert on not only what to pack for a research year abroad, but also how to pack efficiently for an extended trip. Once you’ve figured out all your interchangeable items S. thoroughly examines the pros and cons of Rolling vs. Bundling in your suitcase.
I hope these posts will be helpful for you lucky ducks who are traveling in the near future… and for those of us who are always planning a trip or two in our dreams!
I’ll leave you with Bishop’s concluding thoughts:
Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one’s room?
Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?