Does your travel assignment spark joy?
By now, you’ve probably heard about the ‘life changing art’ of de-cluttering. Marie Kondo is a organizational mastermind who loves helping people do more with less. She asks people how their life would be different if they only owned objects that sparked joy. Sometimes when I travel, I have a tendency to over pack. I end up with a suitcase I have to sit on to close and a backpack that may burst if you look at it wrong. Whether you’re a seasoned travel nurse or hitting the road for the first time, here are some considerations for packing Kondo-style.
Bring only clothes that make you feel good
Once on a vacation up north, I brought the scratchiest wool sweater I was gifted a few Christmas’s ago. I had never worn in once since then, but as a worrier, I figured it would be cold enough near snow to finally bust it out. It took up more of my suitcase than I wanted, but it seemed like a good defense against the impending elements. Did I actually wear it? Absolutely not. I tried it on when I got up there, still decided it was too itchy, and went to the mall to find something more suitable. Not only did I have to now squeeze the new clothes back in my luggage on the way home, but had to lug this useless garment another 1,000 miles back home. The lesson learned here is that if you don’t normally wear something, there’s probably a good reason why. Travel anxiety can make you think you absolutely *need* to bring something, but it’s best to go with your instinct. When you’re out meeting people in a new city, you deserve to look and feel your best. Let your wardrobe reflect that, at least for the 13 weeks of your assignment.
Find a designated location for important objects and papers
If you’re working back to back long shifts, it’s easy to come home and just throw everything in a pile. Sorting thought that pile later? Not so easy and definitely not joyful. Marie Kondo swears by consistency in managing the never ending paper trail of modern life. Find a basket or shelf where papers to be processed or sent out belong and empty it weekly. Many receipts or expense documents can be scanned using your phone’s camera and thrown out promptly. Sometimes I have the urge to save the hard copy ‘just in case’ but my track record for actually finding the paper later on is abysmal. Now, I photograph everything and email it to myself with the subject line describing what it is. Whenever I need to reference a document, it’s just a quick search away as opposed to rifling through messy piles. This system works for other objects to. You can save a lot of time by keeping things in the same spot. It takes a lot of stress out of cleaning or getting ready when you don’t need to keep deciding where something should go/remembering where you last put it down.
Collect only what you can care for
When I visit a new place, I have a huge urge to get souvenirs. Objects can carry such memories and make us nostalgic for the fun we’ve had in the past. Issues come up when you now have a load of t-shirts and knick-knacks with no space to put them. There is a fun is acquiring new things, but Marie Kondo points out that material possessions can become more stressful over time. You have to remember each object you own requires care, time, and energy to keep it at it’s best. I’ve been able to reduce my clothes purchases greatly by reminding myself in stores that if I get a new dress, that means additional laundry to fold, clean, store, and manage. If an object really fills a hole in my current wardrobe, I’ll still get it, but I’m more mindful of the process and commitment. This has allowed me to purchase a smaller amount of high quality, lasting pieces rather than blowing my paycheck at fast fashion retailers season after season. I’ve let go of clothing more readily because sometimes the value of an object is it teaching you more about your own style. I feel less guilty letting go now because I realize having a streamlined process getting dress is more valuable than having a higher volume of lower quality options. This frees up a lot of mental energy in my day and give me greater capacity for the decisions and relationships in my life that are meaningful.
Overall, when you’re on the road, don’t let your stuff weigh you down. You’re embarking on the adventure of a lifetime and deserve to focus on advancing your career and learning more about yourself.