Bridget Gleeson writer + illustrator

Carrying on

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I don’t care to be the girl with the overstuffed suitcase. It’s a matter of pride.

Traveling light is sophisticated, obviously, and I’ve gone to great lengths to seem sophisticated whether I’m traveling for work or play, for a weekend or a month. Sometimes the minimalist approach has worked against me, though. I remember flying to East Germany for a week in college as part of a geography seminar. I knew some of my classmates would be lugging full-size Samsonite boxes on wheels, so naturally I opted to squeeze my essentials into a small over-the-shoulder duffel bag. My boyfriend at the time said ‘but you’re not taking a sweater?’ And I said ‘it’s spring in Germany, I’ll layer!’ He said ‘you know there’s no prize for having the smallest piece of luggage.’ I paid no attention. Hopping off the high-speed train from Frankfurt, I was triumphant. I offered to help my classmates with their gigantic suitcases, smiling but feeling superior and self-satisfied.

It all worked out great till it started pouring in Weimar and the temperatures dropped. I was the only student who wasn’t prepared for unseasonal weather, but I pretended that I was fine in my long-sleeved t-shirt.

Eventually I had to sneak down to H&M on our lunch break and buy a cable knit sweater. And a hat. And another pair of socks.

So we’re about to fly to Europe for a quick vacation. I tried to pack smart; it remains to be seen whether my streamlined carry-on bag will cut it. Probably I’ll be eating my words again and buying a wool coat at full price when the ‘spring in Spain’ thing doesn’t work out.

On a related note, following up on my notes about letting someone else do the travel planning, I guess my better half has picked up the slack. I haven’t planned much of anything but he has charts, diagrams, Powerpoint presentations – I’m not kidding, this is totally true. Take a look at this visual aid, for instance. (First stop – Barcelona! I went there when I was twenty, but I haven’t been anywhere else on this itinerary.) The airport cab will be here in an hour, so I’m signing off – hasta luego, chicos!