Solo woman's journey to authentic life after 50

5 Life Lessons From Packing 1 Bag for 70 Days

We all know the challenge of packing for a trip when you’re trying to get everything into just one carry-on. When that one bag has to hold everything you’ll need for a 70-day trip around the world, in temperatures ranging from 30-100 degrees Fahrenheit, packing has to be strategic AF. Funny thing is, I realized that my five key packing pointers also are lessons for living.

1. Make a plan. First, think about what you want to do and see it in your head. Actually visualize yourself doing it. Then list on paper everything you’ll need to make it happen. Lay out everything on your list. Does it all look right? Is it all manageable? Do you need to make any adjustments? In life, it’s the people in your life that take up valuable space. Friends, family, lovers, partners. Do they fit with what you see yourself doing? Do they support your journey and make it easier? Do they add to or subtract from the picture you visualize in your head? If they’re not adding value to your vision, is it time to take them off your list?

2. Compartmentalize. Packing cubes allow you to organize and maximize what you pack in your bag by compartmentalizing everything. In life, compartmentalizing helps keep emotions, goals, and tasks organized and manageable. My father died at home. I found him and had to wake my mother and tell her. The very next work day I went to school and conducted parent-teacher conferences until 8pm. Heartbreak must be compartmentalized for me to continue to do what I need to do. It may look as if I’m cold and aloof, but I’m in survival mode, zipping away in little cubes the emotions that get in the way of what needs to get done. Of course, never opening them — or taking too long to — is not at all healthy and that’s not what I’m talking about. But separating them, closing them off until later so they don’t get sloppily mixed in with my other stuff until the time is right, keeps me focused.

3. Keep your valuables on you, where you know where they are but no one else can see them. Jewels, credit cards, and passport stay on my body, tucked safely away from prying eyes and hands, in zippered pockets that I can keep an eye on. Similarly, I keep my soul’s valuable pieces secure with me as well. My love, trust, and respect are precious and irreplaceable. They are my inner riches, my wealth of spirit, and I make damn sure no fool or fraud is going to snatch up my goddess gold and misuse it.

4. Leave the small sh*t for last. When packing a bag, put in the larger, heavier items first, and then pack the small, light things around them. Just like in life, deal with the big stuff and save the little crap for later. Like they say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

5. Don’t make your bag too heavy. I crammed as much as I could into my one little carry-on bag. Everything on my list fit inside. It was quite the packing feat, actually. Then I tried to lift it. When you’re traveling solo you can’t count on anyone but yourself to carry your bag. You are solely responsible for lugging your own stuff throughout your solo journey, and there will be lots of bumpy, slippery, steep, long, winding roads to follow, cross, climb, and get lost on. You will struggle. You will be tired. You will hurt. And you will wonder, “WTF was I thinking when I thought I could do this?” In life, don’t make your load too heavy. Aim high, but set realistic, achievable goals. Don’t put so much on your plate that you can’t hold it to eat. Use your strength, but know your limits. Are you carrying dead weight? Carting around regret, anger, hurt feelings? Dump that sh*t and lighten your load.

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