Two Weeks, Three Cities, Two Conferences, One Carry-on

I recently finished up a two-week tour of California. Actually, just three cities (or, three airports - however you want to judge these things):

  • San Francisco
  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles

My trip was eventful before it even started. I think most are. This one was made up of a handful of activities, which included a lot of pre-planning and pre-scheduling:

  • Two conferences
  • Three family visits
  • Visits with friends (We lived in SF for a long time)
  • Three off-site conference events

I packed a single, carry-on suitcase along with a half-empty backpack. Somehow, it all worked. A few bumps in the road, but here's what I learned:

  • Pack early: Open up your luggage and pack. Just throw everything in there you think you'll need. Do this a week or a few days before you leave for the trip. This will give you a realistic idea of how much space you actually have, not how much space you're pretty sure you have. Until I've made this same type of trip a few times, this step is my most important.
  • Pack light: Now it's time to pack. Strip out anything that's on your "maybe" list. You don't need it. You can do without it. If you find out you need something when you're on the trip, you'll find a way to adjust. You will.
  • Get out: Seriously. Get out of the room. Get out of the conference. Wherever it is, just get out. You'll need a break. Take it. Two different conferences in the same hotel made for a long two weeks. I got out, and I needed it.
  • Do it: If you're in a new city, or one you haven't been back to for awhile, just do it. Whatever "it" is. "I'd really like to get over to that restaurant we used to go to all the time, but it's kind of far." Really? It'll be even further when you're back home. Go. Do it.

I did have a helping hand in my travels - I stayed with my sister for two nights and was able to do a load of laundry there (Thanks Jen!). You could do this at the hotel or even find a local laundromat / dry cleaner and have them launder your clothes. It may be an extra cost, but it's really worth it.

When I got off that plane on Friday, without having to wait for my baggage at the carousel, packing light was well worth it.

After two weeks of traveling, the last thing I wanted to do is wait for that bloated bag to pop out onto the conveyor belt.