Try to at least think about where your layover is

a red knit hat with a pomI really don’t like to bring more stuff on a trip than I need. My mother refers to me as the “queen of minimalist packing.” My friends stress about bringing too much when we go on vacation together, lest I judge them. (My husband ignores all of this and brings whatever he wants.) Packing light means I can get around quickly without being weighed down by a bunch of unneeded junk. Of course, it also means that if a trip has unexpected bumps, well, I have to improvise.

When I went to Raleigh a couple of weeks ago, I saw that the weather was going to be just like at home (mid seventies) but rainier. Since I was just going for one night, I brought something to sleep in and something to wear to the office the next day, which I also planned to wear home. This meant I had a tee shirt, yoga pants, a long sleeved tee shirt, slacks, a blouse, a light jacket, a pashmina, and an umbrella. Plenty, had my trip gone according to plan. But alas, it did not.

My flight out to Raleigh went according to plan. I arrived on time, had a nice dinner with a coworker, and got all my work done before turning in. On Friday, after my meetings had finished up early, I went to the airport to see if I could get on an earlier flight, or at least a more direct flight as I was slated to fly home through Chicago (which, by the way, is not the shortest route from Raleigh to Texas, but was the only flight available when I made my reservations). Not only were all the earlier flights AND all of the later, more direct flights overbooked, there was a ground delay in Chicago and I wasn’t going to make my connection. Which meant I was going to have to spend the night in Chicago and come home on Saturday. And of course, all of the direct flights from Chicago were also overbooked, so I was going to have to connect through Dallas and wouldn’t get home until 5pm. Sigh.

On the bright side, my sisters live in Chicago, and even though I was only going to get a few hours with them, it’s always nice to get to visit. The biggest problem was that it was 34 degrees and snowing, and I didn’t have any clothes for that kind of weather. I ended up putting my sleeping tee and long sleeved tee over my blouse, putting on my light jacket, and using my pashmina as a scarf while I waited for a cab. The cab line was mercifully short, but had it been its typical 20 minutes I would have been very uncomfortable. I’m not necessarily recommending that you bring your winter coat if your connecting city is much colder than your destination. I would have at least liked to have a sweater, maybe, or some gloves and a hat. Those things don’t take up too much room in a suitcase, and could have made things a lot better!

I suppose that I’m lucky that this is the first time in six years of traveling for work that this has ever happened. And I’m definitely lucky it happened in Chicago where I have family, as opposed to some random place. But next time I will pay a little more attention to my connection, because a little preparation (and a few extra items!) can make things a lot better.

Readers, do you bring anything with you “just in case”?


  1. I also like to pack light when I travel. if the travel is a vacation, than just a few comfy things to wear and maybe something a little more elegant and that is it, usually all my staff fit into a smaller suitcase or a larger backpack…

  2. I always, always carry an umbrella. For rain, obviously, but also for sun. It’s saved my pale skin a few times when travelling in the summer!

  3. Layering is a great way to gain warmth. Good for you! I also carry a pashmina and use it as a scarf and/or wrap it as a head scarf for warmth. In addition, I carry a few other items that will stretch my wardrobeinto other seasons:

    * A 3/4 sleeve scoop neck long john top. This is the lightest silk, so it will go under your normal clothes. It is small/light enough to fit into a quart sized zip lock. It can also be used to sleep in.
    * capri leggings. These can be worn with a skirt or under your pants for extra warmth. You can also sleep in them.
    * Light black silk windstopper bike gloves. They keep my hands from getting chapped. These are very light weight, but cut the wind.
    * I get cold easily, so I always bring a sweater or fleece. Even a light sweater will add warmth.
    * A rain jacket will also block the wind. With the sweater underneath and the scarf and gloves, you are set.
    * At least one pair of wool socks. I like the Smartwool brand.

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