The pain of packing | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |


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By Sally Torbey

The pain of packing

Uploaded: Jun 17, 2014

Our family vacation is fast approaching. I love vacations but I dread the packing because my husband and I have completely different approaches. If my husband travels with more than a messenger bag he feels weighed down. I like to be prepared for anything. I also want to start having fun immediately upon arrival. If I am not at the beach, on the slopes, or in a museum within one hour, I am irritable. My husband, however, is content to spend the first day of vacation shopping for whatever necessities he did not bring. He has amassed an impressive collection of hats, sunglasses, and gloves over the years, as he rarely bothers to pack these items.

Our differing approaches to packing became apparent on our first family vacation when our eldest son was almost two years old. I thought that if we packed a lot of useful gear, it would make the vacation easier for all of us. We had nine pieces of luggage including but not limited to: a crib, a stroller, a backpack, a folding high chair seat, and a car seat. United Airlines started charging for checked bags because of us.

My husband was apoplectic, especially since our son absolutely refused to use any of the equipment brought along for his comfort. He would not ride in the stroller or backpack, nor sit in the high chair, nor sleep in the crib. In addition, his feet barely touched the ground for the entire vacation. He refused to walk and instead clung to me, insisting that I (and only I) carry him for two weeks. As I was seven months pregnant, our vacation album has endless photos of pregnant me with toddler on hip posed before every attraction. Just looking at the album makes my back hurt.

My son did eventually get over his anxiety of unfamiliar places. He now relishes traveling alone by public bus in remote areas of foreign countries where he does not speak the language. My husband and I would sleep better had our son retained just a tad of his former reluctance!

I wish I could say I learned from that first vacation and managed to pare down our load for subsequent trips, but with adding four more children to the family, I have not improved much. This year, however, we have an exciting development. Every member of the family can now swallow pills, which means we can travel with only one formulation of Tylenol, the adult strength tablets. No need to pack infant drops, children's liquid, and junior chewables. How liberating to travel so light!

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