WARNING! Stay Contained!

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I have known my friend, Emma, for over 40 years. She’s one of the most organized people I know. Emma keeps a neat, tastefully decorated home; entertains with gourmet meals; and maintains optimum efficiency with lists neatly written in steno notebooks.

My small rented one bedroom condo was Emma’s last stop during her two week trip around Florida. She spent two days with me, sleeping on the sofa in the living room and living out of her suitcase. As she was packing the night before she was to fly home, Emma realized she could not find her license. It was her only form of ID since she chose not to bring her passport on this trip. We looked everywhere, unpacking and then repacking all her stuff. We looked under furniture and all the couch cushions. We then tried to call the airlines and the airport. We finally spoke to someone at The TSA who suggested she come in early and talk to one of the agents.

The next morning we both woke up tired, neither one of us got much sleep. We both spent the night wondering if Emma would make it home. We got her things into my minivan and started the forty mile trip to the airport. As I drove, Emma startled me with a sudden burst of laughter. She held a little box in her hand, one of those new security devices that prevents someone from stealing the information off a credit card. In this box Emma found her license. She had changed her routine, taken her license out of her wallet and put it in different location in her purse.

It is so important when traveling to have a routine of consistent placement of stuff.  It’s very tempting to randomly empty a suitcase after a long day of traveling. But since you don’t have the categorized spaces like you have at home, it is very easy to misplace things or, worse still, lose things that are left behind.

When I went car camping for 70 days in 2001, I had to force myself to be consistent.  Even when I was dead tired I knew I had to stay contained.  My scissors were always returned to the glove compartment and any medications were put away in the “important things” tote.  Everything had its place.  I could hear my mother’s advice, words that my sisters and I sometimes found annoying.  “Wherever you put it, there it is!”

Right now I’m training myself to always put my car keys away in the same side pocket in my bag. I hate digging around and searching for them in the dark recesses of my purse. I really need some extensive behavior modification, maybe something involving electric shock treatment.  Old habits die hard but good traveling habits make everything go smoothly.

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