A Girl & Her Suitcase

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. Maya Angelou

Prepping for six weeks of international travel has proven to be stressful, enlightening, and cautionary. It’s 10PM and our flight leaves Austin in less than 12 hours. We are JFK bound, then onward through Iceland to London for a rock concert (The Eagles at the O2 Center) prior to dining with a Duke, a Duchess, and a Prince in Madrid, Spain, with the Harvard OPM 27 Reunion group; and then onto Venice, Italy, and Istanbul, Turkey, where I will be starting production on my third record. I have nothing packed and most certainly nothing zipped.

Wing View Over Iceland Wing View Over Iceland
KB's Suitcases aka 'Rolling R2D2's' KB's Suitcases aka 'Rolling R2D2's'

I need cocktail attire, business attire, walking attire, sweat-proof attire, bohemian attire, rock-n-roll attire, chapter-change attire…coats, sunglasses, hats, and some very specific gear. Tricky.

Big Coat for Iceland Big Coat for Iceland
Sunglasses and Sun Hat for Spain While Overlooking Toledo / Sip of Taittinger in Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain Sunglasses and Sun Hat for Spain While Overlooking Toledo / Sip of Taittinger in Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Flying with #Spiderman in Plaza Mayor in Madrid! Who knew?! #globetrotmusicbuzz

A photo posted by Kathleen Blackwell (@kathleen_blackwell) on

Venetian Masks for a Video Shoot in Venice, Italy Venetian Masks for a Video Shoot in Venice, Italy

I am still packing. Meticulously. Since I will be going from glamorous to grungy, from business to adventure, and from casual to kooky, it is essential that I vet my wardrobe prior to boarding the plane to avoid the 50-pound over limit fee, which typically costs about as much as a small child weighs, and to make sure I’ve covered the basics.

Plus, the most important aspect of one’s wardrobe? Sleep. There is nothing better than wearing a great dose of sleep. Since I also know we are headed on a long journey, I’d like to throw a dose of deep sleep into the mix prior to boarding because I don’t sleep well unless I’m horizontal and on my belly. This is when I realize…I’m flipping out. Panic, stress, and anxiety on overdrive.

I keep asking myself, “Why didn’t I start packing sooner?”

How do I solve packing on a deadline? I tell myself everything will be okay, eliminate the coulda-shoulda-woulda self-talk, and I make a mental note to simplify—effective immediately. I throw crazy to the wind, add lots of humor, laugh out loud, and make a game of it.

I start with my personal style essentials, those items that make me feel comfortable, like Burt’s Bees “fig” lip shimmer with SPF, and I pick a simple color-scheme, making sure to hinge my wearable basics on a solid color. Hinging wardrobe basics on a solid color, whether that be black, white, lavender, or neon green, helps anchor any other accessories, and you can typically pair anything with a solid color.

Winging-it from a core foundation is the best form of art. Kathleen Blackwell

Reality? If you don’t pack it, you can probably buy it along the way, and it’ll give you a fun experience to boot. Therefore, what’s most essential is to pack those items which are difficult to replace in a bind while on the road, like a bra that fits, a classic pair of pumps, running shoes, or your favorite pair of blue jeans, and those items which also support your personality and taste, such as a great pair of knee-high boots, a funky ring, and your favorite scent.

KB Likes Big Bling Box Bling KB Likes Big Bling Box Bling
A Restaurant in Venice, Italy where Patrons Leave their Bra | Photo by Ronan Chris Murphy A Restaurant in Venice, Italy where Patrons Leave their Bra | Photo by Ronan Chris Murphy

If you typically blow-dry your hair, consider leaving your blow-dryer at home, as many places you stay might ordinarily have one in the room. One exception? If you get chilled easily, having a blowdryer on hand can warm you up in an instant. Think Hindenberg blimp, but without the blowup. And by all means, make sure you have the right outlet adaptor for anything that requires a plug.

How does one pack for all this wonderment?

The shoes:

  • Ankle-strap black heels for sexy. Check.
  • Ankle-strap black flats for casual-dressy. Check.
  • Ivory-peach ankle-strap platform heels for feeling like you’re on vacation. Delicious! Check.
  • Camel-mocha-wedged sandals for vavoom. (Are you getting that I like shoes?) Check.
  • Flip-flops! Check.
  • Knee-high boots (any kind, just as long as they are knee-high boots). Check.
  • Nike running shoes. Check. (Because what’s a vacation without feeling like you’re eating too much and need to work it off? Though truly, the best way to see a city is to run a few miles.)
The Glamorous Side in Madrid, Spain - 4-Course Dinner with a Duke, a Duchess, and a Prince The Glamorous Side in Madrid, Spain - 4-Course Dinner with a Duke, a Duchess, and a Prince

The gear:

  • Tech gear, like phone, charger, Zendure external iPhone battery charger, MacBook, laptop charger, microphone, two portable hard drives (one firewire, one USB/firewire). Check.
  • Old school gear, like printed lyric sheets (finished or not), 3-ring notebook, 3-ring hole punch, paper, pens, highlighters, paper clips. Check.
  • Songs (finished or concepts) and chord charts. Check.
  • Lyric sheets.
  • New business cards. Check.
The Grunge-Artist Side in Venice, Italy The Grunge-Artist Side in Venice, Italy

The only thing that matters?

  • Accepting grace, because I’m going to need it!

I’m 24 hours behind, yet divinely on time for my crazy-kooky-cool life.