Wanderlust: A lesson in overpacking

by Jessie O’Brien

My sister is a notorious over-packer, so when we went on a backpacking trip through Europe, I wasn’t surprised that she packed a pirate chest with a couple dinky wheels. It would have been more practical to pack a wheelbarrow.

I was the one who was punished for her over-packing, and had to hoist the pallet of belongings from train to train. We didn’t make many friends.

When we made it to London, both of us were in desperate need of clean laundry. I had three shirts, a hoodie, two pairs of pants, a handful of undies and five pairs of wool socks. She had the entire Nordstrom women’s department. We found a laundromat willing to get our laundry back to us the same day.

That night, we had tickets to a comedy show and wouldn’t have time to drop the clothes off at our hotel, so we planned to stop at the only train station on our route with lockers to store everything.

Typically, my sister is really good at getting around, but she pulled me back on the train at the locker stop, thinking it was the following stop. It wasn’t, and we wouldn’t make it to the show if we turned around.

I was horrified at the thought of walking in late to a stand-up show while sherpa-ing a mountain of laundry. My anxiety was building, and the heavy plastic bag wrapped around my hand was cutting off circulation.

When we got into the city, the heckling started right away.

“What’s in the bags?” “Hey girls, will you do my laundry?” “Will you carry me in a bag?”

We managed to make it inside undetected by the comics, but the laundry bags were aggressively in our neighbors’ personal space. The comedy was excellent, and none of it was at our expense.

There is no moral to this story. My sister never learned her lesson. We recently went to Australia and her bag was not allowed on the plane because it was about 25 kilos overweight. I had to put nine boxes of Tim-Tams and other souvenirs in my bag if we wanted to avoid paying $400. I wish we had been shamed for our tardiness and laundry. Maybe then my sister would understand the value of packing light.

Jessie O’BrienGot a travel story worth telling? Write it in about 400 words and send it to [email protected]. If you’d rather tell your story, send a brief synopsis to the same address. Either way, your story should be true.

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