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Do you have yoga pants and handbags, you will travel

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Whoever coined the phrase “you can’t take it with you” has obviously never seen me try to pack a suitcase.

My rule of thumb is to wear one outfit for every day I’ll be away, plus some extra clothes in case I’m in the direct path of a ketchup factory blast or called upon to run a mud wrestling competition. Put on a pair of evening wear, several pairs of shoes, toiletries and an umbrella, and feel reasonably prepared. If there was room for a bunch of jumper cables, I’d add that too. It’s a little-known fact (I just made up) that I’m the inspiration for the old American Express motto: “Don’t leave home without it.”

Regardless, when I’m at home, I’ll wear the same pair of yoga pants every day for a week. When I’m on vacation, I want options. And that’s what I planned to do when I started packing for vacation at the end of the summer – traveling solo for a few days in London before joining a little walking tour in Portugal. It was easy to imagine myself as a character in an Agatha Christie novel set in a foreign place. The list of suspects always included an eccentric American woman of a certain age who, apart from her piles of steamy trunks, was traveling alone. Although the character never turned into a killer, she was able, like me, to have a look that could kill.

But then I started hearing horror stories about traveling abroad this summer. The world was ready to fly again, but record numbers of travelers combined with severe staff shortages at airlines and airports meant a record number of baggage was lost. I was worried that if I lost my oversized bag, I’d have to spend the week wearing the same clothes I was wearing on the plane: yoga pants and a T-shirt. I might not bother to leave the house.

Some research led me to a Facebook group for female travelers that focused on what’s packaged and how it’s packaged. The consensus among the group was that the best way to travel was to use carry-on bags only. As someone who always checked a suitcase, the thought of packing everything I needed for 11 days in two small suitcases made me explode in hives. Unfortunately, now thanks to limited space, there probably won’t be room for an anti-itch cream.

However, the idea of ​​having to deal with lost baggage on my own in another country sounds even worse. I was traveling on a European airline, so I needed to make sure the bags I used fit their exact size; It’s more restrictive than the sizes allowed for US carriers. I picked a bag that, although not a steamer bag, was something I had imagined an American socialite traveling alone along the Nile and had requested. When I arrived I was disappointed. I had bigger lunch boxes.

Obviously jumper cables have to go, but how am I going to put all the clothes I need for my trip in such a small bag? I turned to the travel kit again and discovered that the answer was a capsule wardrobe: a few mixed and matching pieces you put together over and over in different ways until you got tired of your clothes and started looking for the cyanide capsule. Smart travelers were also advised, given it’s so hot in Europe, to pack lightweight fabrics like linen.

I’ve always avoided linen because it wrinkles easily. Unlike, say, yoga pants, which can lie in a pile on the closet floor for days and still look good (I may or may not know this from personal experience). But I had a small bag to fill up and a plane to catch, so I decided to give it a try.
It turns out that this packaging method gave me more options than I expected. If I don’t want to look wrinkled on a particular day, I can always opt for wrinkle. or even disheveled. Others in my tour group checked their large bags without incident, giving them new clothes every day. On the other hand, I pretended that the “failed origami project” was the look I was looking for. Hercules Poirot had to take one look at me and know that iron could not be a murder weapon.

Perhaps there was a lesson in all of this: that I was better off going with my own, rather than imagining I was a character in an Agatha Christie puzzle. People die in those books. When it was time for the return flight, I put on my travel clothes. The moment I put on my yoga pants I really felt at home.

Betsy Pettner is a writer in the metropolitan area.