Weekend Workshop: On Questions of Travel

April 2nd, 2011 § 10 comments

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.

European Travels

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.

13 September 2009 - Gute Reise!

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?

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§ 10 Responses to Weekend Workshop: On Questions of Travel"

  1. Marleah says:

    Thank you thank you! I’m actually going on a 5 day trip next week (although driving, not flying) to a professional conference, and then will be flying for a week-long conference in June! This will definitely help me get prepped and be confident that I am ready to go.

  2. NotaBene says:

    With E.’s inspiration, I am now a convert to the one-bag carry-on approach. I’ve used your packing guides several times, and I was amazed at how much I was able to reduce from my luggage load by careful planning. Its just such a weigh off my shoulders (literally!) to not be schleping around extra luggage, and to feel confident that I have cute outfits to wear without a lot of fuss. Particularly when on campus interviews, I was able to outfit plan (see http://latinforpayattention.tumblr.com/post/3593257776/reflections-on-interview-attire) once and keep my mind on the more important tasks at hand. Thanks, Chics!

  3. jessica says:

    Great post – I recently traveled to the Netherlands for 20 days on a business trip and enjoyed/hated the challenge of packing a mix of outfits with interchangeable parts.

    It’s aaaalmost Spring in North Dakota and I recently purchased a bike and plan to start bike commuting once the snow disappears. I wonder if you have any tips for modest biking?? I live ~3 miles from my office and it’s a fairly high-traffic route. I like to wear skirts to work and don’t want to bring two outfits but I also don’t want to be giving a free show to morning drivers. :)

  4. Terri says:

    I love the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop…but this one is new to me.

  5. SE says:

    These packing posts are all so helpful- and as a life-long bad packer I intend to study and take notes. I would love to hear about the end result, as far as what you packed. Did you have what you needed, did you regret any choices and why? It would be really appreciated.

  6. elsie says:

    also a fan of elizabeth bishop — so happy to see her words here! and a repost of your travel tips is so timely. thanks!

  7. Denise says:

    Thanks so much for this! I’m actually going to a conference next week and was actually planning going through your archives to find posts about dressing/packing for conferences! So thanks for linking to your older entries on the topic!

  8. Great post – I too am a fan of good packing advice! I struggle to take one carry-on because of the liquids restrictions, but I’m planning to aim for that on my next short overseas trip.

  9. This is so, so timely! I’ve been planning my packing for a ten-day trip to England this week and I had set today as my day to look through here for some cool-weather ideas (I live in the Caribbean and I’ve kinda forgotten how to dress for cool temps!), and not only did I find great outfit ideas, but a packing tutorial too. So I’m dedicating a well-dressed pint to you lovely ladies for keeping me stylish and wrinkle-free in London.

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