Pack It Up

Summer is just around the corner. Any travel plans on your schedule?

One thing that makes it easier to prepare for any trip is being ready to pack all the time. There are three things always in my suitcase:

  • Toiletry bag(s) — to hold travel versions or travel containers or duplicates (i.e., hairbrush) of everything; you may need to add a medicine pack, but there is a lot that can be ready and waiting
  • Charge cords pouch — duplicates of cords for charging phones and other electronics mean they are not forgotten and ready to use when you hit the guest room
  • Plastic laundry bag — always ready for use; when we come home, the contents are dumped in the hamper and returned to the suitcase

Using pouches for these things also means it is easy to switch to another suitcase if that were needed (bigger or smaller, depending on the trip). When it’s time to pack, all that needs to go in is clothes and shoes.

Note: It may help to have a list of things you need to remember written on a card that you keep in your suitcase. That would help you with the things that need to be packed that aren’t ready to go all the time.

Another help is to pack light. Really. It’s tempting to make sure you are ready for every remote possibility, I know. In reality, chances are slim that you will need all the extras, but it is guaranteed you will have to deal with all the extra stuff for your whole trip. You can save some effort by remembering this.

  • Go through your expected schedule and pack what you need. In reality, you will almost always be able to adjust with what you have packed when plans change.
  • If you are going for more than a weekend, plan to do laundry. It’s easier to get 1-2 hours free to do a load or two at some point than it is to drag tons of outfits and sort through them in the suitcase every day. Most hotels have a laundry room, most hostesses will have no problem with you using their facilities, and laundromats are all over if neither of those is available to you on a trip. Note: The more people in your group, the more this tactic benefits you.
    Pack 2-3 outfits for the activities you expect, and hit the road.

As you pack your clothes, use packing cubes or roll up your clothes tightly (like a taquito). You will maximize the space, and it will be easier to grab what you need.

Finally, if you will arrive at your destination (or an in-between destination) late at night. Consider putting pajamas and the toiletry bag at the top of the suitcase (or bag). You won’t have to unpack everything, just reach in and grab what you need for the night before falling into bed.

Volunteering in Your Community

It is good. It is necessary for a healthy community. Someone needs to do it.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction… (James 1:27)

Some have volunteer opportunities everywhere they turn. Others have limited circles and no known connections. If you want to help others, how do you make it happen?

Know your calling. Why do you want to do anything? What, in a broad sense, are you called to do? Remind yourself of your motivation so that you can serve from the heart and not just off the checklist.

…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Know your availability. You can’t give what you don’t have. If you aren’t free 20 hours a week, don’t sign up to work 3 days a week at the neighborhood thrift store. Before you make any decisions about what you will do to offer a cup of cold water to anyone, know when and how much time you can offer.

Know your gifts. What are you good at? If you love nothing more than serving dinner to the entire block, a soup kitchen is probably a good fit. If you are an extrovert and communicate well, leverage those people skills on a one-to-one basis or as a group leader or teacher. If you prefer limited small talk and being outside, check into a list of houses needing yard work or repairs from a local church or agency. Habitat for Humanity is a lot of fun as a group project and serves great needs. I am by no stretch of the imagination a contractor, but I have enjoyed several years of builds with that program.

Know your possibilities. Start asking. Talk to friends. Let people know you are exploring options. Get ideas. Research local agencies. Call places and ask questions about need. Brainstorm. Pull together a list or pool of what might work. Now you have what you need to make a choice.

Enjoy! Put your heart into it and be blessed.