It’s no secret that I think packing is a pain in the neck. It’s the part of traveling I dread and avoid due to its insistence that one must plan ahead. Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to pack in advance and always end up waiting until the last possible minute. Yet, despite my deep-seated hatred for packing, I’ve realized it’s not my least favorite aspect of traveling. That honor is reserved for unpacking.
It amazes me that unpacking has managed to accomplish this feat, considering I previously thought this to be impossible. After all, what could be worse than a task that requires forethought and planning? Neither of these is a major characteristic of unpacking. What is it, then, that makes unpacking so darn obnoxious?
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Back to Reality
Imagine you’ve just gotten home from a trip. You’re worn out and want nothing more than to sit back and relax. Unfortunately, if you have any intention of leaving the house in the next day or so, you’re going to need something clean to wear. You might be able to put off doing laundry for a few days – depending on how long the trip was and the size of your wardrobe – but you’re going to have to get it done eventually.
Doing laundry isn’t really the issue though – it’s what laundry represents, which is a return to the monotony of everyday life. The time for carefree fun is over. Now it’s time to face reality and be responsible. This starts with unpacking, so it’s easy to see how one could have an aversion to it. It’s the final nail in the coffin, as it were.
Sort It Out
Dealing with dirty clothes isn’t the worst part of unpacking, by any means. It’s much worse when you have clean clothes left. Yes, this means you can put off laundry, but you still need to dig through your suitcase to find the clean clothes. You’re probably better off taking everything out to make it easier. Unfortunately, this leaves you with two choices: get the job completely done or leave a pile of stuff on the floor.
Leaving a pile is definitely the less responsible choice, but it’s one I’ve made many times. The idea of sorting through everything and figuring out where it all needs to go isn’t an appealing one, so I tend to avoid it as long as possible.
This isn’t exactly a great way to deal with unpacking, and it’s led to me spending extended periods of time living out of a suitcase. If you think about it, though, it’s not that different from having your clothes in a dresser. It does, however, instill a sense of impermanence. If this isn’t something you can handle, it’s better to face the challenge of sorting through your suitcase.
Work, Work, Work
The biggest problem I have with unpacking is how much work it is. You wouldn’t think taking items out of a suitcase and putting them away would be so hard, but it certainly seems to be. The work itself isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s piddly and time-consuming – an egregious combination.
If it weren’t for the obnoxiousness of the work involved in unpacking, it probably wouldn’t be all that bad. As it is, however, the work remains a consistent problem; and unpacking, as a result, remains the worst aspect of traveling. Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing anytime soon either.