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Have Phobias Will Travel

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. ~Marie Curie

No disrespect Madame Curie but I understand that I fear. ~Steph

U.S. Traveler Rio 2 pc Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set - Blue
U.S. Traveler Rio 2 pc Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set – Blue

Are you at all familiar with Adrian Monk, the famous detective? If not allow me a moment to tell you a little about him.

Monk, was a television series that aired from 2002 – 2009 and he was an unquestionably exceptional, obsessive compulsive detective. I can’t tell you how elated I was when I first saw the program. The reason being for the first time in my life here was someone to whom I could relate. Now I know Monk was just a fictional character but his quirky idiosyncrasies, while comical at times, brought to mind some of my own peculiarities.

Excessive hand-washing, organizing, perfectionism, rigid procedures, unexplainable fears, non-stop worrying and needing to be in control are only a few of the traits I exhibit. The good news is I’ve been told by a therapist they are only “traits” and not a true “disorder”. Whew, what a relief. This means all my family members and I say this with love who also exhibit their own “traits” are completely dysfunctional in a “normal” way as well.

While I would be the first to admit that technology is a great thing it has its drawbacks especially for one with obsessive compulsive traits. For instance I did not need to know about dust mites or how many germs are on any given thing. I just can’t handle it. As a germaphobe (yeah I’m one of those) my friends and co-workers were not surprised when I came down with H1N1 (swine flu) a few years ago. Never, ever, do I want to go through that again everything hurt, even my eyelashes. But the kicker was in an office with hundreds of employees and even at home with my two younger sons, husband and stepdaughter I was the only one who got sick.

Oh well, back to what I was saying. When I was preparing to go on a short trip a few months ago I was eagerly anticipating the travel, the hotel and just getting away for a few days. Then my anticipating turned to dread with just two little words – bed bugs!!

U.S. Traveler Rio 2 pc Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set - Blue
U.S. Traveler Rio 2 pc Expandable Carry-On Luggage Set – Blue

No, I do not nor have I ever had bed bugs but just the thought makes my skin crawl. After watching this segment on TV about bed bug infestations in hotels I nearly hyperventilated. It was all I could focus on and even though intellectually I knew there are only so many things in life I could control I wasn’t sure how I’d get through this. I immediately gravitated to the worst case scenario and my plan was to burn all my belongings but I wasn’t sure how or where I’d get decontaminated so that I could return home. Hmmm.

Eventually I had to come up with a more realistic solution and I must say I was quite proud of the end result. From previous years working at Pittsburgh International Airport I was aware of how flight attendants would very efficiently pack. So I adopted their practice of packing wrinkle free rolled clothes and tweaked it a bit by some great tips from Gretta Monahan of

What I did was lay out all my outfits for each day of my trip, including shoes and accessories. Following is what I packed for each day and how I did it:

The What

  • Travel Day – Dark denim jeans/gray embellished tee/zebra leopard print scarf/black boyfriend jacket/gray oxford flats/turquoise handbag
  • Day 1 – Black skirt/white sleeveless ruffled top/black boyfriend jacket/black flats/jewelry
  • Day 2 – Turquois knit maxi skirt/black sleeveless top/black jacket/black flats/jewelry
  • Day 3 – Black Leggings, black tank-top/white short-sleeve shirt/jewelry/leopard flats
  • Day 3 Evening – LBD (little black dress), black jacket (from day 2)/jewelry/silver clutch/black kitten heels
  • Travel Day – Jeans from first travel day/white tank-top/black boyfriend jacket/gray oxfords

The How

With the exception of traveling clothes this is how I packed:

  1. I laid out each outfit with coordinating accessories and shoes
  2. I neatly folded each day’s outfit lengthwise (black skirt then white sleeveless top was placed on the skirt then bagged jewelry and flats on the top)
  3. I then rolled the entire outfit together and placed in the suitcase
  4. I repeated this process with the remaining clothes including my sleepwear.

The end result was a very neatly packed suitcase and since outfits were rolled together there was no need to unpack everything and risk (dare I say it) bed bugs. You probably noticed that the jackets were used more than once although the looks were completely different.

The bag I used (pictured from Target) measures 20 inches tall by 13 inches wide by 6 inches deep and expands to give additional room if needed. The tote bag contained my heels & toiletries.

I do not travel nearly as much as I used to but I always pack wrinkle resistant clothing, sample size toiletries and gone are the days of packing the “what ifs.” What ifs are those things that I used to pack for those “just in case” situations. In view of the bed bug situation for any future travel I will be packing only essentials going forward.

“We are all such a waste of our potential, like three-way lamps using one-way bulbs.” ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

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