The Road of Packing Stress Leads to Self-Realization... & New Zealand

Bella Santana
June 30, 2018

In seven short days I am going to board a plane headed to Christchurch, New Zealand and the journey that I have been anticipating and planning for will finally be taking place. I cannot even begin to express the gratitude and excitement I feel about my upcoming trip and while my excitement has been bubbling up inside of me since December, with only a week until I depart, I thought it was time for me to get physically prepared for the journey. So today I began packing the next 5 months of clothing and personal items into my giant suitcase, a backpacking pack I am trying to make pass as a carry on, and a school backpack that now looks like I have checked out the whole library because it is stuffed so full. I began this chore at 3 pm and finished around 11. After almost 8 hours of packing, weighing, unpacking, staring at everything on my bedroom floor, debating if I should pay the overweight fees, deciding 5 pounds of pants, skirts and shirts are not worth 150 dollars, only to repack everything minus a few items, to repeat the whole process 3 more times until I was below the weight limit, I have concluded something that I have known for a very long time, but haven’t had to deal with the adverse effects until now…I have way too much stuff.

Coming to admit this today was quite hard for me because I have spent the past 15 plus months of my life slowly going through my closet and my belongings and trying to get rid of the things that I do not make use of. I thought I had done a pretty good job of cutting back on these objects, until tonight, when I spent hours trying to make my bags weigh less than the limit that I previously thought would not be that hard to adhere by. Until this point today, I never even once thought about how hard it would be for me to figure out what I wanted to commit to wear for the next 5 months and pack it all away. It is not the decision of what I wanted to bring with me that was hard per se, everything I wanted did fit in my suitcase…but the decision of what I truly need while I am in New Zealand, that is what caused such an issue.

By no means would I call myself a minimalist, but I would call myself an individual conscious of what I decide to purchase and bring into my life, so to face such an internal crisis today felt like a huge setback for myself. The internal conflict that I faced today gave me the desire to broach this subject with you all. While I feel that it is obviously quite important to pack the right things for a trip this long, I think it is important to take a step back and realize that the objects we own and fret about packing, are not going to define the direction and overall growth we experience over the trip we are taking.

While I have learned over the past that objects do not equate to overall happiness, I have really thought tonight about how frustrating these objects we bring into our lives really can be. The time I spent trying to make fabric fit into a suitcase made me feel defeated and stressed out, it clouded the current excitement I had for leaving with stress and annoyance.

After I had been packing for a couple of hours, I realized that I had been looking at this packing chaos from the wrong lense, a lense that was not focused on the bigger picture. I need clothes, yes. I need to be protected from the elements, yes. I need to be clean, yes. And I will admit, I do like to be stylish which is not a need but is a bonus. While I need all of these things, and want the added bonus of style, I do not need to be reliant on these objects in my suitcase for anything but the above reasons. Once I realized this earlier, I thought I would share this with you all for a look into my mind and my predeparture state. I am hoping this post might aid in helping others not to fret too much about packing and weight limits. I spent so much energy focusing on clothes and shoes, as a lot us probably will before we travel abroad for our semester, that I hope this post will hold as a reminder to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remember, that shirt, those pants: they will not declare your experience. They might make you look a little better while you are having experiences, but they will not make those experiences any better. What we do, and how memorable an experience is, will not be determined by the objects we had with us along the way. Heck, they might even make things worse when you have to lug around a 50 plus pound suitcase while trekking through foreign countries.

To end with a gentle reminder to those traveling abroad, myself included: we are about to embark on something miraculous and life changing. We are about to take part in experiences that will aid in a lifetime of growth and knowledge, and while it is easy to get caught up in the packing and unpacking for this grand adventure, I have a feeling that long after we have returned from our journeys, it will not make a difference whether we wore the same outfit every week. What is going to matter is how we spent our time, with who, and if we were truly enjoying it.

Until next time.


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Bella Santana

<p>Hello all! My name is Bella. I am 21 years old, and am a lover of the outdoors, yoga, hula hooping, and music. I believe that life is about enjoyment, happiness, and exploration, and I hope to share my everyday findings of happiness and life with you all!</p>

Home University:
Indiana University
Chesterton, IN
Environmental Studies
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