Mission impossible: organizing the unorganizable woman

  • Aug 06, 2014
  • 603 words
  • 3 minutes
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Being random, quirky and fun has always been something I’ve thought of as good qualities. But the flip side of having these characteristics is organizational skills that leave much to be desired. Over the years I’ve developed creative strategies for mental organization; physical organization, not so much. This is at its most obvious when I’m travelling.

Only a force field of anxiety dampens the lack of organizational control I have when traveling, and airports are where it’s at its absolute worst.

Julie Smith wearing the scottevest travel vest. (Photo: Julie Smith)

That’s why the scottevest travel vest peaked my interest. Was there really any tool that was going to get me through an airport not looking like a crazed cat lady by the time I reached my gate? I was doubtful, and completely unsure if 17 pockets were going to make me feel more or less on top of things.

I walked in with low expectations. My slight build means that “hiding” lots of things on my person is pretty challenging; neck pouches and waste belts might as well be neon signs. Short of days when I’m sporting a down jacket, it’s almost impossible to hide anything under my clothes. And when I set off to Ukraine to monitor their elections this past May, the mercury was topping 30 C. Down was definitely out of the question.

So I loaded the vest up, quite literally, and I set off to monitor the Ukraine election on an overnight flight via Frankfurt. I may have freaked out for five hours thinking I’d lost my passport right before leaving, but then remembered I had tucked it neatly in to the vest’s passport pocket two days earlier, contrary to my normal organizational habits.

Airport security in Frankfurt ranks among my least favourite places in the planet. I inevitably arrive exhausted and disoriented, and usually make rookie traveller mistakes, which are punished with a thorough pat-down. I don’t care if it’s a woman doing the patting, Frankfurt pat-downs have made their way on to my avoid-at-all-costs list.

So off I go — my phone, hooked to headphones so calming music can flood my ears during the airport experience. My lip balm’s in the pen pocket, cash is distributed in multiple pockets. There are cards I need accessible in one pocket, those I don’t in another. Once I got the hang of this whole “organized” thing, I’d even designated a pocket for my travel claim receipts.

Then the moment of truth — messy haired and with only three hours of sleep, I went through Frankfurt security. The organization gods smiled down on me. I did not lose my passport, and I did not set off the machine. All I had to do was take off the vest and go.

Anxiety…reduced, and loving it. The freedom that came with being on top of my documents and belongings was a great, but almost as importantly, I didn’t feel weighed down. I didn’t have strange bumps and lumps and I could rock this vest. Don’t think fanny pack 2.0 — think Bond, Jane Bond.

This vest does get warm — it was not ideal on a 32 C day in Kiev — and it could use a taller version. Its length meant that while it worked for someone my height (5’8”), it was a little low riding and required some effort to keep it in place.

The vest has quickly found its way onto my short list of necessary travel gear and on my next trip, the vest will be in tow.


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