For years my work required me to travel. I remember leaving home once at the end of June and not returning until just a couple days shy of a month later. Now some would say traveling for 30 days is not that much and, indeed, I have enjoyed vacations longer than that, but this particular trip was actually several trips all combined into one long jaunt. Over the course of the 30 days I had to attend formal events, casual events, active events, business events, inside events, outside events and everything else you could imagine WITHOUT being able to return home between events. Now add the fact that I traveled via airplane and train and was thus governed by two sets of travel restrictions and regulations relevant to my luggage not to mention the fact that I was a woman traveling alone. Who wants to try to navigate with a ton of luggage? Not me! Two bags max, preferably one!
Bottom line, I had to really think through packing my suitcases.
When I travel by car, I take a lot of stuff. I can pack outfits in a variety of colors. I can pack extra shoes and handbags. I even sometimes take my own pillows. When I travel by train or air I have to be cognizant of the luggage size and weight restrictions. I also have to consider rolling that luggage, monitoring that luggage, lifting that luggage, etc. You want to keep it simple. You want to keep it light. You want to keep it at minimum.
But a girl needs a lot of stuff! You have to be prepared for the what-ifs. What if I snag my pantyhose? Got to have extras. What if my hair flops? Got to have a curling iron. What if my shoe strap breaks? Better have an extra pair. What if the hotel catches on fire in the middle of the night? Yes, pack pajamas, a robe and slippers! (Yes, I actually think about the hotel catching fire in the middle of the night.) What if the meeting space is chilly? Be safe, pack a jacket. I might get hungry in the middle of the night. Room service is expensive and hotels don’t always have snack machines any more. Hmm. Pack some Nabs. (Go here if you don’t know what a Nab is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance_Inc. Smile.)
Through the years I have come to pride myself as somewhat of a packing expert. I can travel light yet seem to have all that I need. So once I had the bright idea to “kidnap” my friend for a weekend away. I picked him up from his office and shared part of my plan with him once he was in the car. “I’ve taken care of everything,” I told him. “I packed for you.” He was amazed. Especially when we got to our destination and he opened that suitcase!
That’s how life is for us. Our life suitcase is packed each night for the next day. We go out with a destination in mind carrying a bag with unknown contents. Sometimes there is tragedy and heartache in that bag. Other times there might be confusion or anxiety. And sometimes there’s pure joy. But we never know.
So as a packing expert I’ve learned to keep certain things ALWAYS packed and at the ready. My luggage (and I have multiple sets) is never empty. Certain toiletries, lingerie and first aid items are always packed as is a good book. Pantyhose, socks and shower shoes are always waiting for me. When I am ready to go on a trip, I simply add the items unique to the given trip. That’s a good tip for travelers, and that is a good tip for life.
James 4:14 (NASB) says, “…you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” You don’t know what will be in that suitcase when you open it. Make sure, then, that you have packed and have at the ready your own bag of essentials – prayer, faith, Scripture internalization, songs of praise, self-control, love…