My wife and I recently went on a trip to Haiti with an organization called A Home in Haiti. And while we enjoy traveling together there is one task that pushes our marriage to the limits – packing the bags. I’m sure this is not specific to our marriage so today’s post will take a closer look at the perils of bag packing.

There are two basic types of bag packers. The first is the Type A bag packer. This person likes to pack clothes in sets (or “outfits”) and packs additional sets just in case they are needed. The Type A packer likes to have more than is needed to be ready for whatever comes their way. The order of the packing is also important and is based on a cryptic formula involving the trip itinerary, the color schemes in use and the alignment of various stars and planets. Packing for this person usually takes a few days as things are rearranged to match last-minute changes.

The other type of packer is the Type Z bag packer. This person packs items by number – 3 pair of underwear, 3 pair of socks, 3 pair of shorts, etc. This person usually assumes that some items can either be washed or worn dirty during a trip so the number of required items is limited. Color schemes are less important to this person other than the fact that they tend to utilize khaki and brown to keep things simple. The order in which items are packed is usually irrelevant and something akin to a child’s toy box. Packing for this person usually takes about an hour and is usually done at the last possible minute.

So What?

So what does this mean for your marriage? Here are two steps that you should follow to help minimize stress for your next trip.

1. Determine which type of packer you and your spouse are.

This may seem obvious but is a very important step. Type A and Type Z can apply to either gender so the makeup of each couple can be very different. In my marriage my wife is a type A packer while I am a definite Type Z. (Well, there was that one trip when I took five pair of shoes, but that was due to watching a season of Project Runway. I only returned with three pair.) In some marriages both couples may have the same tendency so observe carefully before jumping to conclusions.

2. Follow the matrix of packing rules shown below:

  • If both of you are Type A, then you should each pack your own bags. Do not attempt to combine luggage or you will put your marriage in jeopardy.
  • If one of you is Type A and the other is Type Z, then you should allow the Type A person to pack the luggage for both of you. This may seem like you are putting too much stress on the Type A person, but in the long run this is the best solution.
  • If both of you are Type Z, then don’t worry about it. You can just wear whatever gets packed and you probably won’t be too worried about it. Just make sure that someone has the tickets and passports.

But seriously: Traveling can be a fun and rewarding activity for couples, but it can also be stressful. The important thing is to allow the stress to pull you together. Sometimes surviving a trip that seems out of control can bring a closeness that might otherwise be missed. So be ready for the stress – whether traveling or just getting through your work week – and tackle it together.

What about you? Do you have any great traveling stories to share? Tell us in the comments!