Monday, June 27, 2011


Notorious homebodies that we are, Art Boy and I don't travel all that much. The sun is out (yay!), the fruit trees are ripening, the succulents are blooming, the kitties are frolicking: why would we leave? But when we do—like our recent trip to the wilds of Spooner, WI, for a family reunion—we try to minimize the trauma as much as possible. It's hectic enough charting and booking the flight, reserving airport parking, and arranging for a cat-sitter. (Thank you, Marta!) Who has the time or energy to obsess over what to wear?

Well, that would be me. How I long to be one of those people who can just toss four items into a satchel (jeans, top, dress, wrap) and be ready for any adventure, from a trek through a tropical rain forest to dinner at Maxim's. (Well, neither is likely to occur in Spooner, WI, but you get my drift.) But no, I'm a Virgo; I tend to overthink the entire process, packing a little bit of everything, just in case, and ending up with three times as much stuff crammed into my suitcase as I could ever possibly wear.

Or I did, until I hit upon the Doodle Solution. A few weeks before take-off, I start doodling the options from my so-called wardrobe in my sketchbook. I start with the essentials, then do some mental spelunking into the musty depths of my closet and dresser drawers, sketching in additional items that might plausibly be coordinated. (For me, this is a much less laborious method than actually trying everything on; besides, my clothes look better when I'm not in them.) Neutrals are best for travel; in a pinch, all the pieces match (sort of). And if you focus on one color to jazz things up (for this trip, the operative color was green), you can cut way back on the amount of jewelry, shoes, and accessories you might be tempted to pack with a wider variety of costume changes.

Once I had everything drawn out, I ex-ed out a few items that seemed redundant, then drew connecting arrows between other items that might be coerced into outfits. Affter separating out what I would wear on the plane, packing the rest according to this "key" made the whole process seem less random and scary. (Although I was obviously still too discombobulated to remember what year it is when I scribbled in the date at the top. D'oh!)

Of course, the one element you can't control in even the best laid travel plans is the weather. Having Googled various weather reports for days, which yielded forecasts of 90 degrees, or rain, or both, I was expecting a typically muggy Midwestern summer, and so packed a few too many tank tops. Only at the last minute did I throw in a long-sleeved T-shirt and a sweater—which I wore just about every day in Spooner, when the weather turned cold, grey and drizzly.

Still, but for three superfluous tops, I wore everything else on this chart at least once, and was prepared for anything, from a hike through the lakeside underbrush to teatime with Grandma. The best thing is, I could have packed the entire lot in one small piece of carry-on luggage. Which we will certainly do, one carry-on apiece, next time we travel (IF we ever travel again, as Art Boy always says as soon as we get home to Santa Cruz), now that the airlines charge $25 to check the one large piece of luggage we usually share. Whatever happened to the friendly skies?

Speaking of travel to exotic places, our niece, Helena, and her boyfriend, Per, are visiting us from Sweden this week, and having a blast bombing around Santa Cruz. (This is her fourth visit, and his second.) If you have out-of-town visitors this summer, Per and Helena recommend Verve coffeehouse in Pleasure Point, the Swift Street Courtyard (especially the Bonny Doon tasting room), the Live Oak Farmers Market, and the Penny Ice Creamery downtown. (The Cardamom Pistachio Chocolate Chip gets an enthusiastic thumbs up!)


  1. Wow that´s some way of packing! I didn´t wear half of what I brought on our trip, so maybe I´ll try it your way next time. Less clothes, more space for wine bottles!
    Miss you!

  2. I agree: less clothes, more wine!

    Hope your bottles of Cigare Volant made it home okay.

    Miss you too!