A bit messier than usual.
 They say packing is an art and I couldn't agree more. It takes practice and is something you can easily get better at over time but some people are just good at it, almost innately. I also think there is an interesting part of packing that no one ever talks about, the personality factor. How you pack and learn to pack has a lot to do with your personality. It's a little bit like the window or aisle seat thing. It's how you enter the world, how you think about things. For example, if you are an organized, type A, pitta person you are going to pack a certain way while if you are Type B, vata person you will pack a very different way. These obviously aren't the only categories but for the sake of argument I will focus on them. Even the act of picking a bag will be swayed by these factors. Will you get a backpack, a rolling duffel, a suitcase or something with a little bit of everything. If you've never thought about how your personality lends itself to your packing style, take a minute to ponder it.

When you walk into a hostel, you can tell a lot about a person by how their things are arranged or what their bag situation is. This might seem silly and a bit judgmental but I don't mean it to be at all, it's just an observation that I have developed over time. Or for example, if you have never traveled with a friend before and you show up to the hotel and simultaneously open your bags, you can tell a lot about their brain. If your brain works one way, you pack one way. With all this said initial packing can be taught and you can make an effort at it to make your life easier on the road, but as with a lot of things it just comes naturally to some people, especially if you are good at puzzles. Packing is basically a puzzle that you have to figure out and be able to take apart and put back together several times. I like that it is a puzzle. Type A alert!

So how do I pack? I'm pretty organized but I tend to procrastinate packing, with that said I am pretty  methodical about it once I do start. I like to lay everything out on a sheet so I can see it in a contained space. I tend to start with the toiletries, making a big pile of everything I think I might need. Then I head over to the electronics, stacking all of my power cords, memory cards and cameras together. Clothes and shoes are usually the toughest part for me because even if the temperature is stable I tend to get cold very easily, especially if I am sitting for a long time. My body just thinks I am going into meditation mode and my blood pressure drops and my circulation slows and I get cold. I lay out my clothes in piles according to what it is, t-shirts, pants, socks etc. After most items are out in front of me, I look at them for a while and then start to cull. I do a once over and make a maybe pile.  I ask myself questions about each "maybe" item, will I really wear or use it? Is it culturally appropriate? Will it travel well? Will it dry fast as necessary? Once I cull the maybe pile, I go over the whole pile again and then start to put things in my pack. While putting things in my pack I usually cull a few more items. The act of putting items in your bag or pack makes you really wonder if  you will use it especially when you see what kind of space it monopolizes. The thing about clothes is that we all have clothes that we prefer to wear because we feel comfortable in them but then there are also those outfits that you have that you want to wear but never do. Often times people think vacation or travel is great time to try those out, and depending on where and what you are doing you might be right. For me, I know that if I don't wear it at home I most likely won't wear it abroad. I also keep in mind that if there is something I really need I'd rather buy it local and help myself blend in.

Shoes can be another tricky one.They depend on what type of trip you are taking. As with the clothes, be really honest with yourself about what you will actually wear.  For any trip though, you should have at least a pair of flip flops/sandals and a pair of closed toe shoes comfortable for walking. I try to plan for the possibility of my shoes getting wet by packing an easily folding type of shoe just in case.

Finally, the roll or fold debate. Some people are ardent supporters of one method, I however, am not. I tend to do a little bit of both depending on what bag I am carrying. My last domestic trip I rolled everything because I was taking a small bag and it seemed to work out. I think it's really a preference thing, I've never seen that it saves that much space. With a backpack it will most likely end up unrolled anyways. I have also heard of people putting items in bags in their pack so they can "grab and go." Each mesh or nylon bag is a different color to signal what is in it for easy access. I've never tried this but I assume it works for a lot of people. When it comes to packing there are only a few "wrong" ways to do it, bringing too much stuff you won't use, packing for the wrong weather, bringing a bag you can't manage and bringing things you can't keep track of. The rest is preference, personality and experience.