Archaeological Excavation Of My Wife's Handbag

Once when I was a kid my mom and I were driving through Cleveland. It was around my birthday so it was hot. The windows were down and we were at a stop light. Maybe we were going to a Dairy Queen or a movie to beat the heat, but for some reason she asked me to dig into her purse to find something while she drove. As I dug, I pulled out a VHS tape that said "Zac Birthday Rock n Roll" on it.

A mix of shame and guilt rushed through me as I simultaneously discovered my birthday present and that it wasn't what I wanted. Which was probably a sling shot. Mixed with that is the disappointment my mother felt at the advanced discovery of her secret. It was a complicated moment for an 11 year old boy and it will forever be cemented in my memory.

Fast forward 30 years when my wife asks me to get chapstick from her handbag. I dig into it with the trepidation of an archaeologist on a dig. You just never know what is going to be in there.

How I Approach My Wife's Handbag

How I Approach My Wife's Handbag

Different Approaches to Packing for Full Time Travel

As many of you know, we've been traveling full time for over two years. This means we travel light as space is at a premium. We only have so much room in our bags. One approach (and I'm not passing judgement here) is to literally get rid of every little thing you deem to be worthless. This is how I roll. I've been known to dump boarding passes in flight. Once I actually dumped my boarding pass before the flight and had to ask for a new one. It's a compulsion.

I once cut a bookmark in half because it was too long. After doing this I imagined the tiny imp that lives inside me patting me on the head and giving me a biscuit. Did this bookmark save any weight or volume? Nope. Could I just dog ear my book instead? Yes. Could I get a kindle and stop buying and carrying books around the world? Also no.

I'm writing this today to examine the other approach to packing; one that Jill didn't cover when she wrote a blog post on How to Pack for Long Term Travel. I figured the best way to do this was to perform an archaeological excavation of her handbag.

Archaeological Excavation Of My Wife's Handbag

  1. Certificate of Yellow Fever. When we left the States in 2015 we were told to bring this card to prove we were vaccinated against yellow fever. This was important at in China and in S.E. Asia, but we were never asked to show it.

  2. Hair Ties. Everybody with any amount of hair can understand these. What I don't understand is why we have found SO many of them on the ground in the pacific northwest. Seriously. We've found several on every trail or parking lot in Portland.

  3. Meals on Wheels Business Card. We didn't have to look too hard for volunteer opportunities during our Portland house sit - the homeowners were looking for a substitute for their weekly route!

  4. Contact Lens Paraphernalia. This makes total sense if you wear contact lenses. But Jill had LASIK a few months ago, rendering these items useless. I'm sure there is an emotional element to getting rid of items that have been with you since you were a tween.

  5. Tbilisi, Georgia Metro Card. I'm sure there are a few dollars left on this metro card. I'm sure we will eventually go back to Georgia because, well, Georgia. But I sure wouldn't carry this around the world with me. Does it weigh anything I hear my wife asking? Of course it does. Everything weighs something. And it all adds up!

  6. Shells or Bones? I'm not quite sure where she picked these up. I think they are shells worn by the tide. I've seen the Hawaii Brady Bunch episode too many times to pick up and carry any rock or shell from one place to another.

  7. The Cutest Acorn Ever. Which isn't to say that I'm so superstitious that I won't find an item on the ground while hiking and present it to my significant other with an introduction that it's The Cutest Acorn in the World. Ever. But if it were gifted to me, I would have chucked it like I did all those niece and nephew pics I was sent every year.

  8. Recent Boarding Pass. Not even worth the paper it's printed on, this boarding pass is from Merida, Mexico to Houston where we connected to get to LA for our Thanksgiving house sit. But like an old movie ticket, it really does bring back some memories about the first time being back in the States for over a year, and how amazed we were that you could order a car wash to your house from your phone. 

  9. Urban Adventures Punch Card. For a while we were on a tear of writing sponsored blog posts for Urban Adventures. We did this in Tbilisi, Jerusalem and Istanbul to name a few. It's super fun to write about our adventures, but very fun when our adventures are "free". 

  10. Lita Cabellut Retrospective. Her paintings are huge and ornate and creepy and we were lucky enough to be introduced to her work while we were wandering from gallery to gallery in Barcelona. Photographs were not allowed. That said, there is a pic of her work at the bottom of this blog post. :)

  11. Guide to Moroccan Symbols. We picked this up while shopping for rugs in Morocco. Even when we weren't shopping for rugs, we were being shopped for rugs. Every rug has it's own story to tell and the symbols are pretty basic - fertility, wealth, health and protection.

  12. Scottish Sheep Charm. This was on the car keys at our house sit for Tonks in Scotland. Somehow it managed to come off during our time there. We could mail it back, but would much rather give it to them in person someday soon.

  13. Twig. This probably fell into her handbag while hiking. And no, it doesn't weigh anything. But yeah, it kinda does.

  14. Fire Brew Business Card. I'm not one for holiday markets. They tend to be filled with useless Christmassy decorative crap that I have no use for. That said, Portland has one that is amazing. Mainly because it's food and booze focused. We bought a sample pack of this concoction of herbs and drank them every morning until they were gone. Find Fire Brew at a market near you.

  15. Broken Rubber Band. No comment. 

  16. Instant Passport Photos. These have come in handy. We used to have a pile of them to make visa applications easier, but now we are down to just one each. Highly recommend you bring extras if you are planning to travel long term.

  17. Moroccan Artisans Business Card. I think we bought a few rugs from this store and weren't convinced that we would ever see the products shipped back to the States. So keeping the card was a smart thing to do. Once the rugs were delivered, I totally would have chucked this in the bin.

That about sums up the archaeological excavation of my wife's handbag! It didn't include several things like tissues and napkins and toilet paper and credit cards and cash and chapstick, but that would have been pretty boring. I'm sure I'll update this post on occasion as we continue to travel. Hopefully she won't clean out her handbag before I can get in there.

No Photographs Allowed at the Lita Cabellut Retrospective