Yay! It’s summer - the season that sparks the most joy for me. Swimming, hiking, gardening, and usually a short vacation or two are on our agenda this time of year. My favorite thing about vacations is seeing new places with my family, especially random, weird places like The Blue Hole. If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. We never had either.
Two years ago were driving down Rt 66 through the desert in New Mexico and started seeing billboards for The Blue Hole. Come See The Blue Hole! Swim In The Blue Hole! I had one of our girls google it, and we found out it’s an 81 foot deep hole made from an artesian well. It’s always 61 degrees and amazingly clear. Kelsey and Carly and I started cheering, “Blue Hole! Blue Hole!” Jeff said, “We’re not getting off the highway to go to The Blue Hole.” Luckily, I was driving, so we got off the highway and you know what? The Blue Hole was one of the highlights of the trip! I think it cost 8 bucks for the whole family, and jumping off the rocks into that freezing water gave us all a new lease on life.
I’d have to say that stopping a few days later when we saw a sign that said “Feed This Bad Boy” at OstrichLand USA was a close second.
Things like that and the people I’m with are what make vacations fun for me.
What’s not fun for me is packing or driving or flying. And I don’t particularly enjoy poring over maps and guidebooks or reserving hotels, airplanes, or any other type of transportation. I know there are a lot of you out there who love doing it. In fact, I just recently read that some people enjoy the planning more than the actual trip, which is astounding to me. I just like to come up with a fun idea and instigate things, then let someone else (my lovely husband for example) do all the work to make it happen. Which sounds lazy, but is actually super nice of me since it sparks joy for him. In fact, as of today, he’s been finishing the things I start for exactly 33 years. Happy Anniversary, Jeff! Our oldest daughter Kelsey and I discussed the fact that even though he pretends he wants me to finish things, Jeff is happy to pitch in and get them done. Aren’t we a good team? I’m the starter, he’s the closer.
Kelsey totally gets the whole marriage thing. By the way, I never did finish painting the trim. Guess who did? Hah!
This has nothing to do with packing, but I’d like you to know that Kelsey was born on our 4th anniversary, so Happy Birthday, Kelsey! Kelsey cheerfully likes to remind Carly every year that it’s Nothing Of Hers Day - so Happy Nothing Of Yours Day, Carly.
Back to vacation planning and packing - even though I will probably never adore packing, using the KonMari Method(™) has made it so much easier for me. Three of the core principles of the KonMari Method(™) can easily be adapted to packing:
Imagine your ideal life (trip)
Choose (pack) the things that spark joy
Fold things into rectangles and store (pack) vertically
When I’m getting ready to go on vacation, I imagine the ideal trip and write down what we’re planning to do, keeping in mind that I always want to have a rigid commitment to flexibility. Because you never know when a Blue Hole will cross your path. Thinking through what we’ll be doing every day helps me figure out exactly what I need to pack. I make a list and choose things to fill the list that spark joy. My clothes are already folded the KM way, so all I have to do is put them in packing cubes.
If you haven’t seen or heard of packing cubes, let me tell you, they’re game changers.
Our friends Joe and Dana have been travelling the world the last couple years doing missionary work with Teach Beyond. They’ve had periods of living out of carry-on luggage for months at a time. Once they discovered packing cubes they swear it changed their lives. Dana bought me some for my birthday, and I use them every single time I pack a suitcase. They’re honestly a KonMari lovers’ dream come true. They’re inexpensive (a set of 4 is $13 on Amazon), they’re deep enough that clothing can be packed standing up vertically, and the entire top folds back so everything is visible. No more pawing through a suitcase trying to find a pair of socks. Dana keeps her underthings in one, shirts in another, and pants in a third. When they get to the place they’re staying, they simply take the cubes out of their suitcases and put them in the dresser.
I usually don’t recommend that anyone buy stuff to store stuff, but this is where I make an exception. If you do any travelling at all, I highly recommend you get packing cubes.
For an upcoming Chicago trip we’ll be going to a couple shows, helping Kelsey move from one apartment into another, and going to church. After looking at the itinerary, I made a list of what I’ll need and easily got all my clothes into one cube. Jeff put all his in another. We’ll be able to throw them in a suitcase along with our toiletry bags and flip flops and have room to spare.
The second trip we have coming up is to Southern California. My sweet Aunt Margaret passed away recently and I’m going out to join family at her memorial service. Jeff found really inexpensive flights, so Carly gets to go with me. The one downside is that we can only bring a small bag each to avoid extra charges. Just the clothes we’re wearing and an 18x14x8 backpack are allowed. (This airline charges extra for everything - it’s 10 bucks if you have a ticket agent print out your boarding pass at the airport!) The idea of having to cram everything into a backpack then dig through it to find something was not thrilling me at first, but since I discovered I can fold everything neatly into two packing cubes and slip them inside the backpack, I’m overjoyed. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to travelling so lightly. No luggage to lose or wait for, just one thing to keep track of, and less room to pack things that might distract us from being present in the moment. It was less expensive to add a couple days on either side of the memorial service, so the trip will be 7 days total. We have lots of friends and family we’re planning to visit, so we may be staying in 4 different homes, and just having to carry in one backpack wherever we end up is sounding better all the time.
I hope you’re able to take an amazing trip or two this summer and that you get a chance to try out packing cubes. They’re definitely sparking joy for me. And if you come across your version of The Blue Hole, let me know. I’d love to hear your story!
Here’s some packing cubes in action from a segment I did with Mariel Ruiz on The Vine!
Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’s only Certified KonMari Consultant
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