On Packing for Trips and Spring Break

Photo by Calihan Huntley

A photo taken during spring break 2021, in which we paddleboarded in a thunder storm.

Today marks the last day of school before spring break and as of 10:50am, I am a free woman. I still don’t think I’ve fully realized that spring break is happening because in the weeks leading up, I didn’t let myself think about the upcoming break. Whenever my parents would ask a question about our trip, I would answer, “I don’t know” so that I didn’t let myself get excited about it. I pushed spring break out of my mind so much to make sure I could study properly for my midterms that now that it is spring break, I feel like I should be in the library.

So now that my econometrics midterm is over, all of my accounting homework is turned in, and I’ve cosplayed as someone who knows how to speak Spanish and do business in Hispanic countries, there’s nothing left to do but sit on the floor of my closet. Technically, this time should be filled with packing for my trip to Corpus Christi, but instead I am sitting.

When I was younger, packing for trips was one of my favorite parts of going on vacation. You look forward to traveling for weeks, and then it’s finally close enough to pull out your clothes and put them all in a suitcase and now the trip that seemed too far in the future is just a few days away. I used to sit in class before spring or winter break and make packing lists weeks in advance just to have some semblance of hope that I would one day get out of this AP statistics class. I suppose finding such joy in packing represents the cheesy idea of “finding beauty in the journey” or whatever Herman Melville was trying to get across when he wrote 425 pages about looking for the whale and only two about finding the whale.

Recently this attitude for me has changed a bit. You would think with all the traveling I’ve done in Madrid that I would be well-oiled by now, but I think the opposite effect happened. I traveled to Madrid with two small suitcases so I didn’t have to pay the fees, and had to watch what I bought so I could fit it all back. When I got back to the States, I told my parents I was taking every single article of clothing I own back to college because I missed the freedom in having that wide variety. I’ve also become wholly and totally obsessed with expressing oneself through clothing in the past year which is great, but also means that it takes me a lot more time to decide what I want to pack. Maybe I’m feeling a certain outfit now posing in front of my mirror in my closed-door bedroom, but will I be in the same mood when it’s time to put the outfit on?

Life used to be so much easier when packing consisted of throwing six pairs of gym shorts and six t-shirts into a suitcase and being content. Why did God have to burden me with becoming a fashion icon? I need options, I need different pairs of shoes for different outfits, I need Alex Russo’s ability to cast a spell on her duffel bag so I can bring my entire closet with me. The materialistic burdens of girlhood.

I must admit I am also guilty of buying new clothes before vacations as well. I grimace writing that, hoping that I do not get made fun of by the males. They simply do not understand.

I called my dad on Tuesday with “very important news” that “warranted a break from work” and proceeded to tell him that my two new swimsuits just came in the mail. He asked me in full earnesty, “Do you not have any swimsuits?” He’s a simple man who’s worn the same swimsuit on every family vacation that photos can document. I told him I have swimsuits but I wanted to get new ones for our trip. Even though I’m 20 years old he’s still working on the whole Girl Dad thing so he replied, “Very good, Calihan.” I don’t try to explain to him how it would be an atrocity to wear a day-to-day swimsuit on a vacation.

On the same phone call I told him about a new strapless shirt I had purchased. No matter how many times strapless shirts let me down, I always want to try again. I told him how when I wore the shirt, my broad shoulders made me look like a bodybuilder. He responded, “Hm, well I guess you’ll have to get a different shirt.” Like I said, simple man.

Every website or store you visit in the month of March is directed towards spring break, with swimsuits and tank tops always up front. I went into Target yesterday for oranges and upon entering, it felt like I had just traveled states by walking through those automatic doors. There was floral print everywhere, people with dark tans picking out swimsuits, fancy water bottles and even inflatable pool toys. Just like that I was no longer in a landlocked state in the south, I was in a beach town. Of course it’s smart for stores to do this to get more money, but it only seems to add to the pressure for spring break to be some kind of crazy experience, especially in college. The white t-shirt challenge or visiting Mexico with 100 of your closest friends. 

A few days ago the dean of students at my university sent out an email to the student body with some of his advice for spring break. There were 10 bullet points, but the highlights were, “Condoms make you look sexy”, “Get tested for HIV before you leave”, and “Never drink anything you didn’t mix yourself”. Receiving an email like this only furthers that crazy collegiate spring break pressure. If the dean of students felt the need to send these pieces of advice out to everyone at my university, does that mean that a majority of my fellow students are having spring breaks that warrant these warnings? Am I the odd one out?

Of course in theory a spring break with a lot of people sounds like a blast, but when real spring break rolls around, I’m utterly exhausted. The last thing I want to do is test the hypothesis that men do look sexier with condoms, hang out with people I’d be scared I could get HIV from, or drink anything that will make my headache worse than it actually is. Last year for spring break I went back to my parents’ house, let them stuff me with food, slept 10 hours a night, hung out with my friends from high school, and got ahead on my macroeconomics course. With my plans to visit Corpus Christi with my parents this spring break, my break has been renovated from last year. I am a junior and an official Woman of the World now, meaning my plans have to be upgraded from when I was a measly sophomore… even just by the slightest amount.

We’ll stay in a condo where I’ll be stuffed with food, sleep on the beach, have time to Facetime the friends I haven’t seen in a while, and do my Spanish essays from the balcony. Plus my parents are pretty cool, so I don’t feel like I’m missing much when I choose this path for spring break. Although I will have to do without the frat boy chugging a keg upside down, I don’t think my dad would be up for that, even if I asked him politely.

It’s funny how these surges of FOMO hit me at points but when I really sit up and ask myself, would I truly want to be doing anything else? The answer is generally a no. I like to think that I’m a decisive person who knows what she wants, but oftentimes the weight of all the different lives I could be living weigh heavily on me.

Which brings one to the all encompassing idea of the future, because there are so many paths I could take and I find myself wishing that I could try out each of my different lives for a little bit of time before moving on. I suppose this is why I daydream so much, it’s the only way I’ve found in which I can do exactly that, even when I’m sitting in my accounting class. Since I became a junior, almost everything relates back to my upcoming professional career. In two years I’ll walk into Target and see the same sight, except I won’t have plans of traveling somewhere in a few days. I’ll have a big girl job in which I continue going to the office and working during the weeks that used to be my fall break, spring break, and summer break.

The existential idea of joining the workforce isn’t the exact thing I want to sit on the floor of my closet and think about when I’m supposed to be having a well-deserved break from thoughts of work and school. I suppose I should get back to packing.

Yours truly,



It is important to note that the dean of students that sent the email about advice for spring break also sent one two weeks ago when we entered midterm season which read:

“If you feel like everyone hates you, sleep.

If you feel like you hate everyone, eat.

If you feel like you hate yourself, take a shower.”

Reads like a diabolical haiku.


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