15 Sep 2014
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New Year’s Resolution: Packing Lightly

In this week's Betsy and Sal, Sally Higginson talks about how she resolved to pack lighter, and how that resolution fell apart while getting ready for a trip to the Canadian Rockies.

New Year’s Resolution: Packing Lightly

It' early February, and we all know what that means: It's time to abandon our New Year's Resolutiions.

For the few among us who still think that whatever promises we made to improve ourselves we still might keep, let me say this: ha ha ha.

Here was mine: to pack lightly. That’s right. I decided to take a lesson from my younger daughter, who can pack for a week of skiing in a carry-on bag and offer space to anyone else in the family who is having trouble cramming a week’s worth of necessities into a bag weighing less than 50 pounds.

Before I continue, let me make clear the lesson my husband and I learned while planning our winter escapade: why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

For years I’ve heard tales from friends and family who set their atomic clocks so that they can be the first to call the airlines and book award travel to Hawaii or Europe or some island paradise. To a person they swear it’s imperative to call as soon as the digital second hand crosses the virtual Greenwich Mean Time line. On your mark, get set, book.

Chez Higginson, we don’t work that way. Just after Thanksgiving, as we realized my fiftieth birthday was within the lunar month and other than ordering a cake we had no specific plans for marking the occasion, Tim suggested that we take a family trip to celebrate. Maybe something snowy, and mountainous, where we could enjoy my favorite winter sports: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sitting in front of a fire drinking adult beverages.

(Maternal note: The rest of my family loves downhill skiing. I do not.  Apparently, every fifty years, the mother’s interests get to dictate the vacation. I can’t wait to turn 100.)

We decided to head to the Canadian Rockies. And it turns out that booking award travel to Calgary in January is easy. Want to use miles to go north into the frozen tundra after the holidays and before the June thaw? Virtually every flight had available seats. Correction. Absolutely every flight had available seats. There was no mad dash to secure free seats north of the 51st parallel. Ha! All hail procrastination! We booked.

What we didn’t realize was that although travel to Canada in winter might not be a competitive sport, packing appropriately is. Fifty pounds per bag is still the standard. That’s right. Crossing the border doesn’t cross out the weight limit on baggage.  

For a few mortals, heading into the mountains for a week of outdoor sport means easy packing. Long underwear, some fleece, and a few assorted hats and mittens do the trick. Throw in pajamas and a book and head out the door.

I am no such mortal. Nor, might I add, is my husband. We began by packing clothing appropriate for every ten degree variant between +40 degrees down to -20 degrees. Add festive sweaters and a range of evening fleece wear, and we filled suitcases one and two with ease.

Faced with a week in the mountains at a lodge with no televisions, however, we were determined to pack a week’s worth of old-fashioned fun. Battleship? We brought it. Travel Scrabble? Packed. Ligretto, the German card game, made the cut. 

As I was about to pack Bananagrams, a game whose entire contents fit inside a pouch literally the size of a banana, my husband announced we had no more room.

“The badminton racquets took up the last bit of room in the bags,” he said. With a straight face. Totally serious. I am not making this up.

Yes. My husband packed four badminton racquets, a badminton net, and pvc pipes which he figured he could drive into the snow so that we could play a few rounds of snow badminton at Emerald Lake, in January, in the Yoho National Park in British Columbia.

And that is why he said no to my Bananagrams.

Here is why we are still married. Because I brought Bananagrams anyway. And because I only teased him a little bit every day while we all played Bananagrams instead of snow badminton. And because I don’t care that he packed badminton racquets for a trip into the snowy Canadian Rockies. 

Still, my New Year’s Resolution is to pack lighter. Next time, Battleship stays home.

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