Monday, July 28, 2014

Pack It All In

I don't travel light. Some of my friends have been surprised to find out that after years of travel I don't have packing down to an art.  Sure, I am able to pack six weeks' worth of mission materials into our family's allotment of four 50 lb bags, but I also take all sorts of unnecessary stuff.

Examples from this trip include:  4 bangles, 8 pairs of shoes (not counting the ones Kinley brought to share with me since we wear the same size), and a bottle of the hair straightening balm I use at home (who am I kidding to think that this mop of hair is going to straighten in a tropical climate with no A/C?).

Additionally, I bring lots of clothes for myself and for the kids.  There are, of course, reasons (rationalizations?) for this.  1)  Knox and Kinley will grow out of their summer clothes, so I want them to wear all of them while we're gone.  I must confess that I like to buy my kids cute clothes, and there's no way I'm leaving them at home in the closet when I know they won't fit next summer.  2)  Kids' clothes don't actually take up that much space if you roll them before packing.  Plus, the weight they add is minimal compared to books, toiletries, and shoes.  3)  On long trips or projects, we never know what our laundry situation is going to be.  Will we have to send out clothes out to be washed?  How long is the turn-around time?  Will we have a dryer?  Will we be dependent upon good weather to line dry our clothes?  I'd rather just take enough clothes to last more than a week just in case.

But we Boyds try to pack it all in in more ways than one. When we take a trip, there is no time for rest.  In fact, in our family, we have three different ways to distinguish travels: trip, vacation, and project.  A trip is a journey that includes many specific sites to see and things to do.  Whether it's checking new National Park Service sites off our list, doing a few whirlwind days at Disney, or visiting five European countries on a twelve-day cruise, a trip means go, go, go.  There is very little time to rest, and I don't get much reading done on trips.  We see and do a lot, but I'm exhausted by the end.  Sometimes, one of us is working during the trip.  For example, in 2011 Josh taught in London for Purdue's study abroad program.  He taught classes during the week, and we went on side trips on his off-days and on weekends.  Pretty much every single day of that summer had an agenda.  (BTW, Josh is more of a trip kind of guy.)

A vacation, however, is far more relaxing.  It means one hotel for several days in a row and no real agenda.  We sleep late, read a lot, eat a ton, and usually gain weight.  We may pull ourselves together enough for an excursion or two, but the lack of a schedule is the real treat we crave.  On our 2010 vacation to The Reefs in Bermuda (the same place where we had spent our honeymoon 15 years before), Josh and I never even left the hotel property.  It was glorious.  (BTW, I am more of a vacation kind of girl.)

Finally, a project is a period of time that we leave the country to do mission work.  It is most certainly not a vacation since we work five days a week for nine hours a day teaching English using the Gospel of Luke.  And by our definition it's not a trip either, since we don't have enough time off each week to do a lot of side travel.  The thing that trips and projects have in common, however, is that they are both exciting and exhausting.  We love the work we do with Let's Start Talking, and each project lasts four to six weeks of our summer.  (BTW, at the end of a project, we usually squeeze in a trip before we return to the US.)

So, you see, we pack it all in, whether it's in a suitcase or an itinerary.  That's just what we Boyds do.

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