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.
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!