The return trip

I know I’m super delayed on a Thanksgiving post.  And I know that by the time I finally get my pictures up, you’ll all thinking “geeze lady, old news, it’s practically Christmas” but I swear it’s coming this week so…there.  (I’m not much for retorts before 9am).

Anyway, this post won’t be entirely off subject so I think I can get half credit for that, right?


I want to talk about a little phenomenon called the “return trip.”  If you’ve ever traveled you know what I’m talking about.  It’s the part of the trip where you…you know…return home.

Why would I bother to write about this?  Why do I think this is a phenomenon?  Let me explain:

Everyone says that the worst part of getting ready for a vacation is the packing.  You have to decide what to bring and what not to bring.  What do you really need.  Like, do you really need to bring 3 pairs of shoes?  Do you really need to bring 4 sweaters?  Do you really need to bring the industrial sized bottle of hair gel?  And what do you want?  Do you want the red shirt or the blue shirt?  The blue shirt makes your eyes look great but the red shirt goes with more things.  The return trip is the easy part.  Everything that you brought with you goes back in the suitcase and you’re done.

Except that, somehow, it never works out that way.  It SHOULD work out that way.  Logistically speaking, it WOULD work out that way, but it never does.  Somehow, you accumulate more things.  This makes sense if you are going for Christmas or a birthday or something.  Gifts are expected.  Normally, people even allocate room in their suitcases just to account for the gifts, which, now that most airlines are charging you to check a bag, can be a real pain in the ass.

But, despite your best efforts, your suitcase will always be overflowing.  It will always be slightly heavier than when you left.  Or, if you pack like me, it will triple in size.

This effect is called the “return to a place where you don’t have a car trip.”  This is seen most often in college students who have no access to cars and/or post-college 20-somethings who move to cities where they don’t have access to cars.

Oh come on, this isn’t just me, is it?  It can’t be!  I’m gonna lay it out there for you all.  In college, I would periodically call my mom with things I hoped she could pick up for me, my Target list.  A second laundry bag, a bottle of Tide, food I could actually eat in my dorm room, or (when I moved out of the dorms) food that I could cook but of course they didn’t sell at the only grocery store w/in walking distance of me.

I used to ride back to school with whichever of my friends happened to be leaving around the same time as me–usually my friend Ben, who lives about 8 minutes from my house.  Inevitably when I would ask for a ride, he would say “sure” then followup with “how much stuff do you have?”  He knew me too well.  I specifically remember having so much crap with me after spring break of my senior year that it took up the rest of the trunk and most of the back seat.  We were supposed to bring another friend back with us but her flight was delayed and she told us not to wait.  It was a good thing she did–I don’t know how we would have all fit in that car.

Now before you all start assuming that I can’t pack well, let me stop you right here.  I am the world’s best packer.  While I was at Elle, I could be working on a project elsewhere and someone would pull me back into the closet to pack the trunks for the shoots.  I could pack a trunk like no one else in that office.  I could fit more outfits (and shoes!) into a trunk than anyone else and I always knew when to stop packing to meet the weight requirement to get it overseas.  I was a packing master.  It was inspired.  (And yes, I am done self-glorifying my packing expertise, sorry about that!).

So what is this phenonemon?  How can it be stopped?  I’m going to tell you right now:


It cannot be stopped.

All you can do is pack a couple extra bags with you and hope that whoever you travel with has extra trunk space.


9 thoughts on “The return trip

  1. You are not alone in this.

    Plus, who re-folds dirty clothes? You keep them in a bag that takes up more space in your suitcase.

  2. I pack like I’m moving. It’s disastrous.

    “Oh, a vacation for 3 days.” To me, that clearly means at least six outfits. Shoes, eh, I can get away with a pair of two – my most versatile, of course – but clothes. I mean, how am I supposed to know what I’ll want to wear next Thursday? I don’t know what I want to wear to work when I have 30 minutes left before I’m late… Psh.

    …My dog chewed up the zipper on my largest suitcase (bastard) and I’m already stressing about how I’ll fit everything into the medium-sized luggage for the five-day Christmas trip back home. Oy. Not to mention nervous I won’t have room for all presents, me and my small dog. Ya, this should be interesting.

  3. Let us also note that I was also carrying some of her stuff home…so BOTH of us left with more stuff…more of hers…wait…no I accumulated more too. Man…

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