Why Traveling is so Overwhelming as an Adult

Remember the days when it was as easy as shoving some clothes and a toothbrush into a bag to pack for vacation? I so miss those days like I miss the days where eating out of a pint of Haagen Daaz’ chocolate chocolate chip ice cream didn’t make me instantly gain weight.

It was so simple back then and maybe it’s because I cared less. But I feel like perhaps it’s that in adulthood we know too much and as a result, we’re faced with lots of options and are fickle about our choices. Travel used to bring with it a time-slowing, heart-jumping excitement that made the days and weeks before feel like some obstacle of torture I had to get through to make it to the prize—the thing I always wanted and never knew I could have but would finally be awarded.

But these days, travel is stressful. For me, it starts with worries about hair. Not the hair on my head, but the mustache that is always threatening to go from subtle to startling. I have to carefully plan the day I’m going to wax and the backup plan (depending on how long I’ll be away). But I worry about the hair on my head too. How can I schedule a wash and blow dry so I can minimize what I have to do while away? And will I feel dirty after the plane?

But more than these concerns, it’s the little things that bog me down: the toiletries I have to pack. I now use two different types of cream per day, plus a sunblock if I’m going to be sitting outside for any serious period of time. I also use eye cream, because ladies and gentlemen, the bags are nothing compared to the lines that are beginning to take residence. I have to do my best to prevent them from permanence, don’t I? (Especially if I crave the comments about how I look too young to be thirty, and I do.)

I need floss these days and feel guilty going even one night without it because I have chronic dental issues. I am sick of fillings and root canals and so I must floss or I will be up all night thinking about what will happen as a result of my missing two or three days of flossing in a row.

I also have to carry my nightguard, because I grind my teeth and even when I skip one night of wearing it, I have terrible sensitivity in my teeth and pain in my jaw.

Then there are the optical deficiencies. I need to pack my glasses but also an extra pair of contacts in case I rip the ones I’m wearing, which has happened before and been a pain in the ass to deal with. (There was a time in Vegas and I spent way too long trying to get a replacement pair so I wouldn’t feel like the nerdiest looking clubber at Pure.)

TMI, but if you’re a lady who might get her period, add more crap to the list and lose more space in your suitcase. I tend to over pack feminine products because I am the type of person who always thinks like, “What if I run out?” aka. “What if it is the worst period anyone has ever had?” I always think in worst-case scenarios, which basically translates into pack more of everything. Pack more options so that you don’t get stuck regretting it.

Beyond this, you need underwear but it’s not that simple. Bras have subcategories, people. Some have underwire and you need that sometimes but sometimes you are trying to layer something fun underneath a sheer white t-shirt so it needs to be more like a tank top that fits snugly around your boobs (cue bralet). Then there’s the strapless bra for your strapless dresses or tops that would look stupid with any strap showing anywhere. (Women’s clothes are so fun and so annoying. I love fashion but I might be at the point where I just need one type of bra that works with everything so I can stop thinking so much about it.)

If these things are complicated by any of the following: multiple weather zones, a diverse itinerary, different types of terrain, you are essentially screwed in the shoe and jacket department. Boat shoes or flip-flops or sneakers or boots or all of them? Do I also need heels? Do I need a blazer? Should I bring the casual white summer blazer or the fancy black blazer that will look better with the non-flip-flop sandals I chose? Thick hoodie or a light cardigan? Should I throw in a shawl just in case? (I always throw in things just in case and regret that I have way too much packed later.)

The truth is, I like options. I like to travel with options. I hate having to wear the same thing or wear a summer jacket when its much colder outside or wear flip-flops when I know I have a pair of sandals that would look much nicer. It’s my attachment to exercising my freedom to choose that ultimately weights me down and traps me in this process.

So hear I am, planning and packing for a short weekend trip and telling myself that it’s all okay. One pair of earrings will do.