How many times have you heard the question “If your house was on fire, what thing would you grab”? It’s meant to reveal what’s most important to a person. I say there’s another (less destructive) way to find out the same thing.

Limiting space can reveal what’s most important.

Go on a trip. In fact, go on multiple trips in a row (that is, if you can. It’s really up to you. Don’t let me tell you what to do with your life. But I do highly recommend traveling). What you choose to pack are the things you can’t see yourself living without.

I’ve packed a lot in my life. Vacations every summer. Moving a lot when I was younger. Some trips were only for a weekend. Others were for months at a time.

I’ve also packed a lot this summer. I packed to come home from school. I packed to go to Colorado for two months. I packed to come back again. I’m still unpacking from that, actually. I’m going to be packing in a few days for a weekend road trip with my sister. Next week I’m going on a short visit to family out of state. And by the end of the month, I’ll pack to go to school for the last time (not like I’m freaking out or anything!).

The Aran Islands, Ireland
The Aran Islands, Ireland

I’ve learned some valuable lessons from traveling and packing so often, like be careful picking up an overstuffed suitcase, or always have a change of clothes in your carry-on. But most importantly, I’ve learned what’s important to me.

There are things that I never leave home when I leave. Whether it’s a long trip or a short one, I have a list of essential items that I pack first. Aside from things like clothes and toiletries, that is.

Notebooks and pens. Even if I’m only leaving for a few hours, I have a notebook with me. It’s the writer in me. I have to have a place to scribble down any ideas I get. Maybe I don’t use it, but better to be safe than sorry.

Books. Packing books has become immensely easy with technology. I can take my Kindle or iPod Touch and have access to hundreds of books, so I don’t have to go through the painful process of choosing which ones to bring. But I still find myself bringing at least one or two paper books. I just can’t help it. I love the texture of the pages, and, I’ll admit it, the smell of books.

Camera of some sort. I love being able to revisit memories of my trips and cameras preserve them better than anything else.

Phone. Surprised not to see this higher on my list? I actually don’t use my phone terribly often, but I still think it’s important to have a means of communication with me.

There are other things I’ll consider necessary depending on the length and location of the trip, like my computer, my favorite sweatshirt, or my hedgehog mug.

What do you consider necessary for a trip?

Until next time, word nerds!

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