Packing for #RSAC 2016: An OCD Case Study

by Bill Brenner on February 22, 2016

At the end of the week, I’ll be packing for five days in San Francisco, where I’ll write about the goings-on at RSA Conference 2016. When you have OCD, packing a suitcase is as ritualistic as the compulsive hand washing you’ve heard about.

Mood music:

Before I had the OCD under control, packing was an all-day affair. I’d line up all my clothes and accessories in order of the days I planned to wear them. I would undergo a similar ritual when gathering toiletries. I’d pack extra for fear that I’d be without something on the second-to-last day of the trip.

Today I do things a lot differently. I still keep track of what I stuff into the suitcase to ensure I have enough for each day, but I only look over my cargo twice. It takes less time to do than when I used to look things over 5 to 10 times.

I save space in my suitcase because I don’t stuff it with cigars and cigarettes anymore. While I carry my vaping pipes, they take up less space. I also used to stuff books in to have something to read during downtime. I don’t do that anymore, because those books always sit unread. I’ll still have a supply of Starbucks Via packets in case I can’t find my preferred coffee in the airport.

Last year I walked around San Francisco in my big, heavy boots. This year I’m being smart about it and going with the sandals that slip on and off effortlessly.

One year I forgot to grab my Prozac bottle on the way out of the hotel and only realized my mistake after getting through the airport TSA line. Now I just pack the exact number of pills I need for the trip. The rest of the bottle stays home.

Packing the laptop bag has gotten easier, too. I used to cram five notebooks and a handful of pens in there. Now it’s one pen and no notebooks. At this stage of my career, I’m pretty good at storing notes in my head. I don’t let then sit in my head for too long, either. I usually write up the talks and demos within 10 minutes of seeing them. Some talks I write up while I’m watching.

I still worry about having enough power cords, though, so I pack every cord I own. But I don’t lay them all out on the table to count them multiple times. I just stuff everything into the bag.

I’ve also gotten bolder about when to go to the airport. I used to get to the airport three hours before the flight because I worried about unexpected problems and wanted time to fix them. I’ve scaled that back to two hours during recent travel. So far, it’s working out fine.

I may not travel the lightest I can, but when you have OCD and learn how to simplify packing, it’s a victory.

Safe travels, all!

Suitcases and Briefcase

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

jonee April 13, 2015 at 6:08 pm

I laughed cause I’m still dealing with an overly, overly, stuffed large suitcase for one night. Bandaids, cups, alcohol, shoes, sneakers, etc. Still can’t get down to an overnight bag – yet. What holds me back is that I sometimes almost always need the one item I leave back. Damned if I do/don’t.

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