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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Have gun, will travel

The Hub and I are the motherfuckers of the travel world. We don't believe in wasting time or energy lugging our crap 'round foreign parts. We believe in traveling light and fleet of foot and we are good.

On our Italy trip last year we went two weeks, six cities with nothing but a small duffel, a chocolate bag (insulated) and a collapsible backpack. Eeyore met us in Rome carrying a hiking backpack packed to the brim with perfectly organized clothes, travel guides, cameras and whatnot. The look on his jealous, jealous face when we popped up all footloose and fancy free was a thing of beauty. My gloating lasted exactly as long as it took the temperature to drop from ninety to forty. Groveling for extra layers of clothes wasn't nearly as fun as crowing.

That was last year. This year we started small with the LA trip. We learned from that experience. Oh, how we learned.

Imagine an empty living room floor. Soon occupied by a suitcase and a backpack. Toiletries spread out on a table to be tallied and packed up. Clothes organized, items grouped, everything neat and tidy. Then imagine a car seat appearing by the suitcase. Then a nursing bag with its pump, bottles, clothes and sundry. And a cooler for road bottles, drinks and snacks. Don't forget the stroller. Which soon has carriers piled on it. Then a diaper bag. And on and on until our luggage is completely subsumed by baby accouterments.

It was shocking. I kept thinking I was done and then one more thing would come up (co-sleeper! of course! in case our hotel bed is the size the Serengeti). The only thing that took longer than piling all the baby bits up was figuring out which of them we actually needed.

The funny thing is that knowing ahead of time in no way prepared me for the completely new level crap carrying in my life. People tell you. Its not a secret like so much else about pregnancy and babies. And yet...the first time you stare down that added luggage pile or realize (while at an appointment) the baby has gone through two outfits and you didn't pack a third, there's this feeling of utter disbelief that is takes this much to keep one tiny creature clean, dry, and comfortable.

I mean you don't need to carry three outfits. You can have less stuff. As long you don't mind unhappy damp baby while running errands or scrambling to MacGuyver a chew toy out of objects found on the street. In fact, some people advocate going diaper free which, as far as I can see is first world nonsense where people mimic cultural practices in places a hell of a lot warmer than here and you have to be willing to train your kids to pee on shrubbery in public. (Sidebar: what is with Americans fetishising other culture's parenting practices? This country was founded by psycho Puritans. That's your heritage. Suck it up for God's sake and work for a happy damn medium.)

With the first trip out of the way and a second in the offing we can begin to assess our stunning baby-crap travel piles and sort out necessary from the convenient. If you think about babies as one big shock to the system then the next few trips should get us from baby detritus overwhelm to reasonable and then finally back to slim, sleek travelers: family edition.

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