Jamie vs. Rick

Monday, March 26, 2012
Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States
I spent most of Sunday doing laundry, shopping for toiletries and packing my suitcase. I hate packing. It's probably my least favorite part of the trip process. I actually hate it more than unpacking and doing laundry once I get home. 

I've discovered why I dislike it so much, and why it makes me so irritable . I hate deciding what to bring. I hate making choices between one sweater or another. Two pair of pants? One? Can I get away without a curling iron? How many toiletries can I cram into a bag? And then there are shoes. Shoes are in a whole other category of stress-related-packing.  

Fortunately (or unfortunately), many travel books have a packing list. I do have Rick Steves' travel guide for Spain. And sure enough, on page 853 (yes, I know it by heart) is his packing list. I say this with caution, because 1) he is a man 2) he clearly favors the freedom of traveling "light." Rick says that once you pack your suitcase, you should remove (and will only need) half of what's in there. Well Rick....I tend to add more.  

 I get what he's saying. And believe me, lugging heavy suitcases in other countries is not fun. But I also think his recommendations, especially for females, are not practical. Here are some up for debate: 

5 shirts (combination of 5 short sleeve and long sleeve):  There is no way I can do that. Not gonna happen. I'm bringing 2 long sleeves and 4 short sleeves, 2 black cardigans, and 4 tank tops. Hey....I like layering!

One sweater or fleece: I actually agree with this one. One black sweater for me. 

One pair of shorts: I agree with this one, too, only because I hate shorts . I'm bringing two skirts instead. And 2 sundresses.....

5 pairs of socks: I'm only bringing 4. Take that!

- 1 pair of shoes: Ok, I assume he means you will pack one pair and have another pair on your feet? That's still not acceptable. I'm bringing 4 - tennies, good walking sandal, another good sandal and dressy sandals/heels.  

- 5 pairs of underwear: I'm bringing 7, plus other undergarments that do not pertain to Rick.

- 2 pairs of pants: Again, unacceptable. Right now I have 3, but am considering removing one. Also have 2 pairs of cotton capris.  

- 1 Swimsuit:  That's fine. Although years ago I remember Rick writing that a sports bra can also be a swim top, and I think that's stupid.

- In addition, I'm bringing a "work out" outfit in case I can get in a run, as well as a sun hat and scarf (to dress up my blah white and black clothes). Some hair product and make up is also needed. 

My reasoning/excuses: 
- I realize this might sound like a lot, but remember that most of it is light (skirts, sandals, shirts, pants) and not heavy pants or sweaters. 
- I have no issues with hand washing items in hotel sinks, but when I'm on the bus tour, I really won't have the chance to wash anything, as we're staying in 4 hotels in 5 nights! I need some options .  
- I'm also unsure of the weather. It should be decent during the day (60s and 70s), but I think it will cool down at night. That's where pants/jeans will come in handy.  
- I don't want to look too much like a touristy dork. I will look like a tourist and it's bad enough that I won't have a cute purse or can't bring a lot of clothes with color. So let me bring what I need to get by.

My clothes and toiletries fit fine in my 25" rolling suitcase, and there is room (and weight) for souvenirs. I'm also carrying on a backpack with my money, guidebook, netbook, camera, trashy girlie magazines for the plane, snacks and medicines. I have a great day pack that can fit in my suitcase.  

I'm pretty well traveled, and I can't say that I have regretted bringing the stuff I do. I will wear most, if not all of these items at some point. I see what Rick is saying, and agree with him on some items. But if my packing list is wrong, then I don't want to be right. 


Other Entries


Scott Bader

Sounds like a lot of aggravation to me. I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to deal with all of this. So....I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through you for now. Hope you have fun!!


It's not so bad. I'm past the annoyances now!

joe feliciano

first of all i hate rick steves and EVERY other person who gets PAID to travel. jealousy aside, i understand what he's saying. every time i go on a longer holiday, i take more clothes than i need and end up not wearing a third of it.

i think you have packed brilliantly. steves goes to people's houses or local pubs and such. but people dress up in spain, so you do need more shoes and other options.

you are going to have a blast and come home with the satisfaction that you have one up on mr. rick!


I agree! He can do and go where he wants - he's Rick Steves! I need to make a good impression. haha

John K

I have traveled quite a bit myself and have horrible memories of lugging a huge suitcase through cramped train stations and crowded streets, but that is how I learned the hard way! When it comes to clothes, you are better off taking thinner layering pieces, like you said. This way you have have all those individual options that can mix and match but also add up to a warm total package. Darker colors keep you warmer in the sun and show soiling/wrinkles less.

My sister taught me a good trick for packing clothes: Every fold takes up extra room so lay everything flat and fold as little as possible (less wrinkles too). Also, keep all your socks and under-things for stuffing (as flat as possible) into all the nooks and crannies in the suitcase or put them in your shoes.

It kills me when I try to pack so light that I end up regretting something that I left behind; unfortunately, you cannot always tell ahead of time what that "thing" will be. You can always pack a little light knowing that you may want to buy some clothes along the way.

Then there are those items that tempt you but may not be realistic in the big picture. An e-reader, for instance, sounds like a good idea but if you do not have much down-time is it worth it? Magazines might be just enough and can be discarded along the way to keep things light. An e-reader is fragile enough to require special attention, can be the target of thieves, and also needs the charger; what a pain if you do not end up using it much!

I could go on for hours! Have a great, safe trip, John


I don't have an e-reader, so no worries there. That's why I like magazines, as they can be tossed. I don't bring books other than my travel guide. And I try to keep in mind that my bags will get lighter as I go, as you start using your toiletries, snacks, etc. My bag is about 36 pounds, so I'm good. :)


And I decided I'm not doing public transport to/from the airport. TAXIS all the way! More safe and less hassle. It's worth the money I think!