How to Pack to Travel to Edinburgh for a Month

July 20, 2012–This was done as an exercise about creative process. Not my usual style, but kind of fun.

1. Make a list of the tasks required to leave your home and travel to Edinburgh for the summer, securing your home, packing, etc.

Decide on clothes

Buy walking shoes, preferably not to “walking” in style

Buy a new raincoat b/c current North Face gortex leaks

Get dog food for Josh

Pay bills

Go to the library and bookstore to get all books for classes

Buy suitcase

Find compass


2. Create a mnemonic image for each of the tasks.

For this step, my flat mates and I played Pictionary—every time I had to draw, I used something from my list as the prompt. They then wanted to help draw.

3. Combine these images or items to create a work of art (poem, essay, photo, whatever).

How to pack for Edinburgh

Check information for enrollees page on college website. Read that it will be cool, and might rain. Check weather online, expect 50-60 degree weather with showers. Think to self—no problem, same as home here in Oregon. Choose clothes for trip accordingly. Leave heavy raincoat at home because it has started to leak, and it is too expensive to buy a new one right now. Purchase lightweight water resistant jacket suitable for current weather. Try it on while packing, decide it is too big. Go to the mall, exchange it for smaller size. Wear it on day three in Edinburgh. Get caught in two downpours and sprayed by passing traffic while waiting for the bus. Downpours soak through the coat, two wool sweaters, a t-shirt, to your skin. Arrive at mandatory reading for the evening in wet clothes. Try to dry them in the ladies’ room under hand dryer. Give up. Leave early. Wear pajamas and hope clothes dry by morning for class. Check weather online again; vow to leave campus directly after class next day to purchase a new, real raincoat at outdoor gear shop.

Check information for enrollees page on college website. Read that sturdy walking shoes are necessary as there will be excursions and many of the streets are old, possibly even made of cobblestone. Drag all shoes out of closet and consider each pair. Decide any that are sensible are also worn out and that none work with clothes selected for trip. Go to the mall, again. Try on ten pair of shoes. Leave mall. Consider taking only flip-flops. Go back to mall, buy $129 shoes that are, admittedly, comfortable for serious walking and don’t look frumpy. Decide shoes are too expensive, take them back to the mall. Re-select clothes so that running shoes will work with all outfits. Decide to get over fashion issues with wearing running shoes for non-running. Call friend who tells you good job on returning expensive shoes and reassures you that running shoes are just fine fashion while travelling. Look in closet again for other possible options, realize most of your sensible shoes really are worn out and that you really do need to invest in new shoes. Wear fun heels on the plane. Try to believe you will also wear them out and about in Edinburgh. Attempt to wear them to walk to the bus for first evening’s outing. Change into flip-flops that you, thankfully, stashed in your bag. Wear flip-flops around Edinburgh until horrendous downpour causes you to slip and hyperextend knee while trying to avoid dropping computer on sidewalk. Finish walking to mandatory evening reading barefoot, down city sidewalks and across city streets. Endure loud laughter from older woman who notices, just as you arrive at venue. The next day, attempt to buy rubber boots, find that everyone else in the city had same idea and there are none to be found.

Check information for enrollees page on college website. Read the recommendation that suggests packing then taking out half of what you stuff into your suitcase. Acknowledge to self with a smile that this is how you always pack. Put chosen clothing and personal items in suitcase. Pack notebook and yoga DVD. Contemplate the issue of books. Email program director about books. Take his suggestion to bring only those I still need to read. Run around town to various libraries and book stores to find all necessary titles. Fill all empty suitcase nooks and crannies with books. Arrive in Edinburgh to find syllabus has been changed and none are the correct titles. Attempt to download ebooks, find out operating system is out of date. Shop in Edinburgh for new needed titles and random Scottish literature unavailable at home, double number of books you are now travelling with. Calculate cost of unneeded books, including library late fees accrued while in Edinburgh.

Check information for enrollees page for the last time. Read that power adapter is necessary. Call several stores in Portland. Go to Powell’s Books travel section for universal power adapter. Discuss adapter with clerk who assures you it will work in Scotland. Read back of package, see that it works in UK. Buy it. Find last sliver of space in suitcase for it. Arrive in Edinburgh with wrong type of adapter. Visit several shops looking for correct adapter, find they are sold out. Eventually find correct adapter in odd ethnic food shop. Hope Powell’s return policy accommodates length of time of trip to Edinburgh. Wonder where you put the receipt.

Get up early on morning of trip to walk dog. Realize dog is out of food. Make last minute run to buy dog food. Come home, double-check packing. Decide to take out the one book you feel you understand thoroughly out of bag. Arrive in Edinburgh and learn it is the one title you do own and do need to read more chapters of. Borrow book from classmate.

Get dressed and head for airport. Find mailbox to mail bills. Drink tea and finalize online to-do items. Realize you have made four trips to the mall in the last two days. Arrive in Edinburgh after 30 hours of no sleep.

Start into routine in Edinburgh. Realize it is closer to 40 degrees and that all clothes are too light weight. Realize that it is going to rain hard every day for the first two weeks, and that rain coat doesn’t really withstand rain. Realize sitting in cold old building for six hours of class a day is uncomfortable to the point of distraction. Realize wearing running shoes as shoes is not an option in your style world, even when travelling. Realize you grabbed the flip-flops that are almost worn through on the bottom. Spend a week trying to adapt. Feel whimpy and nit-picky. Berate yourself for having privileged people problems. Realize that you are not the minimalist you think you are.

Give up. Go to the Scottish goods store and buy a tartan plaid lap blanket. Use it in class even though you feel odd. Go to The Gap and buy new shoes with soft soles good for walking. Get blood-blisters walking to campus, beg band-aids off program director, who also gives you candy. Wear running shoes only for running along the canal. Decide to decide later what to do about all the additional books you now need to get home. Vow to learn to use a bigger suitcase.

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