Thursday, March 28, 2013

Don't Mess With a System That Works

Although I’m no longer flitting around the country like a “fart in a whirlwind”, as my grandma used to say (for real, she said that), I still do my ample share of trekking between Illinois and Minnesota. In my car. Where I can pack any size knife AND my dog Kornflake. Even when he has gas. (Thank you God for inventing mouth breathing.)

But no matter where/when I find myself planning that next trip, and no matter how long between trips, for the last decade there is one bag I never unpack: Kipling’s Sherpa Carry-on Tote. Brilliant red, baby. I simply work out of it so that when I get to the “otherly” place I’m sure I’ll have my toothpaste, eye shadow, emergency Zantac, deodorant, foot powder, moisturizer, book of matches (you never know), knee brace, exotic earrings and all  other must-haves like a few pair of Dollar Tree glasses and way too many ballpoint pens. 

When I get home, I set this bag out of the way on the bathroom floor and leave it unzipped. Whatever comes out of it goes back into it. Working out of a bag on the floor helps my health:  Bend and stretch. Bend and stretch. Bend and stretch.

Since I'm doing no air travel as of late, the only time I'll alter this system is when I do have to fly, in which case I'll find the few tall bottles and swap them for my short ones. Trade off the large toothpaste tube for the travel one. Trade for trade. That way I For Sure won't take something out I need.

I’ve talked about my Kipling bags before. I also shared a picture of the vintage snap-lock “cosmetic bag” I keep filled with of G.I.Joe body parts from yesteryear. (Mother of sons who used to like to pretend to blow things up, so you might want to check that link out after all guys, relive your own memories.)  I can always—always--cram just one more thing into my Kiplings, although as of yet I’ve found no need to add any body parts. I hope the TSA or some other federal agency doesn't start watching me now, just for saying that.

These soft bags weigh almost nothing when empty, have extremely durable zippers and just the right amount of exterior and interior pockets. Truly great organizers. After years of use they still look brand new. Wish I could say the same for my face. They come with shoulder straps too. They're also offered in manly colors like boring black. (Nothing personal.)

Process of full disclosure: don’t fall in love with my exact large Kipling duffle bag show here because I can no longer find it online, not even on eBay. But just so you can lust after it ... And there are other versions.

Since I often make that Chicago/Minnesota trek between our main digs and the writing hideaway we rent year-around, there is another “bag” which is really a “bin” that stays active, for lack of a better definition. We (hubs and I) keep it out of the way, but “out.” Our marital shorthand goes something like, “Put it in the blue bin.” This way as soon as we think of something that needs to go back or forth, and because we’ll soon forget what we thought of, we put it in the bin rather than on a list which we’ll also lose. 

There are a few must-have, always-use household items we don’t want to duplicate, so we keep them stored in the bin, like my Tupperware Spin N Save Salad Spinner and my Pampered Chef garlic press.
(Who doesn't love a good party?!) Seriously, that garlic press transformed my life! Why put them in a cabinet here or there where we might forget them? Use, wash, dry, back in the bin. We store the camera there too, and my prescriptions and vitamins and a small empty White Castle hamburger box (lower right-hand corner of the bin). I'm not sure why the White Castle box is there, but it's been there for years and like I said, DON'T MESS WITH A SYSTEM THAT WORKS! Since the blue bin is always "active," the giant thing is hard to forget when we're packing the car.

So there you have it: one old woman’s methodology. What about you? Got any “always do it this way” keen-o, neat-o, fail-safe, gotta-have travel ideas and necessities? Go ahead and share them here in the comments.