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Packing for the Summer Silly Season

Summer is sometimes called “the silly season,” perhaps because the warm to stifling weather encourages us to shed layers of clothing and decorum. This 1939 poster advertises a seaside extension for visitors to the World’s Fair in New York City. What could be better than a stopover at Sea Cliff, Long Island? At 250 feet above sea level, visitors could enjoy relaxation “without mosquitos.” Today this Victorian Village located on Long Island’s “Gold Coast” is still a tourist destination.

It’s entirely possible one might decide to combine a visit to the cultural icons of New York City with a little beach time at Sea Cliff. Flights and accommodation are easily booked. Then comes the silliness. Whatever possessed you to think you could pack everything you need for a two-week vacation of city sophistication and idyllic ease in hand carry luggage?

There are many reasons to try. For one thing, you don’t have to wave good-bye to your suitcase as it’s swallowed by the invisible conveyor belt taking it through security checks and who knows where after that? Best scenario: The bag is waiting to greet you at your destination. Less attractive: You open the bag to find a note from your friends at TSA letting you know the reason your undies aren’t exactly where you left them.

First the encouraging news: As exemplified by this You Tube video “How to Pack Like a Pro,” it is possible to get everything you need into a carry-on bag.

Oops. That’s a guy packing. What about gals? Well, some can get away with essentially the same items. But I find I have to sacrifice clothing items to configure other necessities. Let’s assume you’re taking a cabin size case and a backpack or other small item. Here are some things to think about.

  1. Be sure you have all travel documents as required – put them in a safe place. Forget where you put them ten minutes before you depart, so you can experience pre-travel panic guaranteed to start the journey on a note of excitement.
  2. Count out all medications and toiletry items. There’s no room for extras. And be sure anything liquid is in a TSA approved plastic bag so you can place it in the bin with your laptop and then be pulled aside because you aren’t allowed to do that, except when you are.
  3. Lay out all electronic and photographic equipment. Try not to duplicate wires. Take a portable power source if you must. Decide if convenience is worth weight. Take the laptop anyway.
  4. If you against all practical advice decide to check your bag, be sure to pack clean underwear and a toothbrush in your carry-on, because you never know when you’ll have to go to the emergency room. This makes no sense, but my mother tattooed it in my memory bank.
  5. Pack sunscreen, even if they do have stores at your destination. You know how expensive things are in tourist areas.
  6. Check the weather at your destination. It’ll be different when you arrive, but at least you tried.
  7. Take a first aid kit, even if it’s only antiseptic and band-aids. See rule four.
  8. I’m told that you should take a bag for your dirty clothes because you wouldn’t want them to touch anything else. Or not.
  9. You’ll want to take your own airplane balnket and pillow because even if the airline provides these items you don’t know here they’ve  been. See rule four.
  10. Now we can think about clothing. Where are you going and what will you be doing? No matter how hard I try I’ve never been able to be in one climate zone requiring only one type of apparel. My new motto is glitter and sequins match most occasions.


 Don’t forget the cat. You can stash her in the laundry bag.

 One more thing – unless you’re going backpacking in the Himalayas, there will be stores at your destination. As long as you have your medication and glasses, you can acquire items as needed – the sillier the better.


Featured Image: Travel poster c. 1939 for Sea Cliff, New York. U.S. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

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Author Sandra Wagner Wright

Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.

 Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.

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