Packing Anxiety (or how to apply rescue diver skills to packing your backpack)


You would think that after 2 years of travelling & living abroad I know how to deal with something simple as packing.


Turns out you’re wrong.


The arrival of my brand new 5mm wetsuit the other day almost send me into a panick attack: How will I EVER fit that and ALL my other stuff in bags?!


Wait…packing? 5mm wetsuit? What’s going on?


I’m moving again! The new destination will be Oman. This is all very exciting and I’ve known for over a month. I just kept quiet because I was afraid that I would jinx it, but now it looks like it’s really happening.



We (A. is coming along too) will be based in the Musandam, an exclave of Oman proper, much closer to Dubai than Muscat. It’s right on the northeastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, right across Iran sticking out into the Strait of Hormuz (my friends already joked that it would be awesome -but terrifying- to see a US submarine sneaking up to Iran while diving).


You should all come and visit, even though there might not be much to do besides diving and admiring the desert and fjords and starry skies and sunsets. Oh, and eating the most delicious food. And perhaps hanging around the swimming pool. Because we’ll have a swimming pool. Can I say that again? We’ll have a swimming pool. You’re welcome.


Oman is very exciting and interesting for numerous reasons. The culture, obviously, but more about that when I’m actually there. The climate might be a close second. In summer it will be bloody hot of course but in a couple of weeks, when we arrive, it won’t be as hot as you might think. The biggest difference compared to, let’s say Indonesia, is that it can actually get a bit chilly in the evenings and early mornings. This won’t really be a problem because almost anything is better than this sad excuse of a winter we’re having in The Netherlands right now.


Is this going to be part of my work attire?
Is this going to be part of my work attire?

But did I mention the water? The water temperature is where it’s at. Sometimes it’s a mere 23 degrees C and the thought of it already numbs my toes and makes me pee my wetsuit. My friend that is already working there warned me about bringing a warm woolly hat and a windbreaker for on the boat and that kind of freaked me out.


So instead of breezy tropical-heat resistant summer clothes I have to bring along hoodies, windbreakers, knitted hats, a huge bulky wetsuit and basically everything else for a temperature range from 14-40 degrees Celcius. It’s really easy to stack 6 flimsy shirts and 2 pairs of cotton harem trousers in a backpack but this will be a different matter.


You want to know what the ridiculous thing is? We’re leaving in three weeks and I’m already freaking out about this.


OK. So what did I do?

First of all, breathe. Then Stop. Think. Act. (I’ve been teaching this to people. I can do this!)


Stop. Assess the situation. I pulled out all my clothes, sorted them on my bed and counted. Turns out I have less than 45 items of clothing already, which is not a bad number to start with. This excludes coats, shoes, underwear, workout gear and dive specific clothing. Remember to always put your own safety first, so if you have one of those closets that are so full they’ll explode by just looking at them, you might want to put on a helmet or something.


At least half of the items wouldn’t stand a chance to be taken to Oman because they’re too hot, too formal, too wrinkly, too dumb or too irrelevant.

All my clothes. The dorky catskirt won't make the cut.
All my clothes. The dorky catskirt won’t make the cut.


Think. That leaves around 25 items, which would be pretty good for a capsule wardrobe but still takes up too much space in my backpack, so we’ll need to select further. My rules: every item should be:


1) Wearable with several other items. I don’t need to explain this, do I?

2) Be practical, because miniskirts might be totally sexy, climbing in and out of docked boats with them is not. Especially not in Oman, because, modesty.

3) Look pulled together. Easy one! Just choose a boring color scheme of blacks, greys and maroons like I do and you’ll be fine.

4) Preferably be multi-functional. Leggings double as running tights. A long skirt is great for chilling out but can also look fancy for trips into town.


Yeah, that sounds boring to me too, but life is no fashion show. At least not for me, at this moment. If it is for you, that’s totally OK too.


Act. Make a shortlist of 10 items of cloting and see how many outfits you can make with them? 4 bottoms (leggings, long skirt, shorts and jeans), 5 shirts (2 longsleeve, 2 shortsleeve, 1 tanktop) and 1 hoodie got me really far. I’ll probably bring some extra shirts because I’ll be living there instead of just travelling around but this will basically be it!


Now breathe again and smile at the thought of how much space you have in your backpack to smuggle a supply of cheese and cookies into the country. If there ever was a reason to minimize your clothing, this is it people. Don’t let all those minimalists fool you.

2 thoughts on “Packing Anxiety (or how to apply rescue diver skills to packing your backpack)”

  1. This would be a good contact for a classroom presentation haha. Nice work! Also, I was hoping you were gonna use the “hug yourself” advice from the rescue course. So remember that too!

    Oman sounds interesting…and cold. I will enjoy following along from the warm waters of the Caribbean 🙂

    1. How could I forget the ‘hug yourself’ advice?! Oh man, golden. “If the towering piles of clothes are vertigo-inducing, try hugging yourself”. Thanks! And do me some of those warm Caribbean waters!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.