When I was only 5 years old, my mom enrolled me in to Irish dance. I loved music and patterns, so she thought, why not? Man, did she hit the nail on the head with that one. For almost 12 years, I danced competitively. I loved the music, the costumes, the wigs and especially the unique “no arms, all legs” style of dancing that can be as graceful as ballet and as rhythmical as tap dancing. I traveled with my mom all across the province to compete and even sometimes crossed the border to the USA for competitions like North American Nationals. But not in all those years of being a part of something so quintessentially Irish, did I get the opportunity to visit Ireland itself.
Well, that day has finally arrived. Though my dancing years are in the past, I’m excited to travel to Killarney and across Ireland with my mom this fall. We’ll be visiting for the TBEX conference and checking out as much of Ireland as we can in the 10 days of our visit. While this isn’t our first mother/daughter trip (we went to this conference in Costa Brava for TBEX 2 years ago), I always look forward to traveling with my mom and considering the years that we spent together travelling for Irish dance competitions, I just know that this will be a very special trip for the both of us. I always appreciate intergenerational trips like these, it really gives me an opportunity to catch up with and learn more about my mom. So, it’s time to start getting ready.
The first step to a good trip is always packing right! For some, packing for a trip is a walk in the park, they’ve got their outfits all planned out in their head and the thought of filling up a suitcase just adds to the excitement of travelling. For others, it’s a burden. Trying to pick through an entire wardrobe, anxiety of forgetting crucial items, making sure you have enough room for everything you need? It’s a stressful job! Well,fear not! I’m here today to share with you my own fool-proof method to packing. It’s only 4 simple steps, anyone can follow! No matter where you’re going or what you’re planning, this guide will work for you. Let’s get packing!
The first thing to consider when packing is always: location. Where are you going? What is the weather supposed to be like? Will you spend most of your time indoors, outdoors, or a mixture of both? It may seem obvious that if you’re going to Whistler in the middle of the winter that you’ll want to bring a heavy jacket and some boots, but for a destination like Ireland, at the beginning of fall, it might not be so easy to guess. I made sure to take a moment to check the weather for Killarney, Galway, Cork and Dublin for the next 10 days to get a better idea of what I need to bring.
Since it looks like it’ll be overcast and a little bit rainy, my mom and I went out to find some sturdy raincoats and waterproof shoes for our outdoor adventuring. Considering the mild temperature, we also brought home a few more long sleeved shirts and a new sweater for myself.
Make sure to dress for the occasion, whatever that occasion may be. Traveling for a wedding? You wouldn’t want to forget your formal wear. A jungle excursion? Maybe leave the suit and tie at home. Similarly, a walking tour through the city of Dublin will certainly require a different wardrobe from a hike through the Irish countryside. It never hurts to take a look through your itinerary and double check that you’re packing the right clothes for the right situations so as not to be stuck without the right attire, miles away from your closet.
In Ireland, I know that we’ll be spending a good amount of time on tours or in museums, so I’ve packed lots of casual, layer-friendly clothes so I stay comfy while still looking cool. Since we’re also checking out a conference in Killarney, I’ve brought some business casual looks that would be suitable for those days.
3. How much?
Now that you’ve rounded up your weather and occasion appropriate wardrobe, it’s time to consider how much you actually need to bring. What size of suitcase are you planning to bring? Will you have access to a washer and dryer during your stay? Are there days where you will need multiple outfits? These are all things to consider before you start packing things away into your suitcase. Especially if you will be traveling from one location to another often, like we will be in Ireland, you will probably want to pack light with pieces that are versatile in style and easy to wash.
If you’re planning on bringing home some souvenirs but just don’t have much room in your suitcase to begin with, consider packing clothes that you can donate or toss during your stay to make some room for some newer, shinier things. I know for sure that I’ll have to leave some room for the multiple bottles of Irish Whiskey I’ll be bringing home!
4. Dont forget!
Lastly, it’s time to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important. Here’s a strategy that I have been using since my Irish dance days (suitable for the occasion, don’t you think?) to pack for out-of-town competitions; I like to call it the Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes method. Stand in front of the mirror (or not, if you don’t have one handy) and just like you did in elementary school, go through each part of your body, starting from the head and remember what you need to keep that part covered and well-styled.
For example; your head. The top of your head needs a baseball cap, your eyes need sunglasses, your ears need earrings, etc. Next, your neck: a scarf? some necklaces? maybe a tie? Next, your torso: some shirts, some sweaters, etc. Go all the way from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Although it may seem kind of silly to stand in the mirror and point at all your body parts as if you’re learning what they are for the first time, I guarantee that this has been the most effective way for me to remember everything I need to pack. The method works well for packing toiletries and medications too so that you have everything you need to keep your body happy and healthy. If you are packing with children, I think this would be a fun and interactive way for them to get involved in the process.
And voila, my 4 step method to packing for any trip! It hasn’t failed me yet and hopefully it won’t for my trip to Ireland! Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming trip to Killarney and Ireland. Bon Voyage!
Lauren Ibbott is a University of Ottawa student, blogger and freelance writer. She frequently writes for DownshiftingPRO. Please follow her on Instagram @Lauren_Patii All opinions are her own. You can read more of her post below:
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