the art of unpacking; four nights in london

Over the years I've seen countless articles about the art of packing. I even contemplated pitching one myself. I am a proponent of the master list approach, creating a bespoke checklist for each trip, printing out said list and then checking off each item as it's tucked in its designated suitcase or carry-on bag. Ideally, I note which piece of luggage I've packed an item. Alas, a proponent does not a practitioner make. I did approximate this method last summer, when Isaac and I went to Italy, but for our recent trip to Miami and the Keys, I was not as organized.

Yet I packed reasonably well. I did not forget my thyroid medication (something that has never happened, thank goodness), and I did not overpack, either. But I did blow it in several ways, and I would have been doing myself a major favor if I'd used a checklist. I forgot the ear plugs. Me, the person who is prone to swimmer's ear. And I swam for nine straight days without ear plugs. And now I have a major ear infection in my left ear. There is, in the words of my kind otorhinolaryngologist, a fungus among us. It flared up Friday evening, too late to see the doctor until today.

That's the packing. What about unpacking? I excel at emptying my luggage, but fail at organizing the flotsam of cards, pamphlets, maps, receipts and, panic attack, notes. (I think there's an essay in this trip but I can't find my notes, scribbled on National Hotel bedside pad.)

For now, here's an article on packing from the Times Travel section.
Which serves as a lovely seque into today's sweeps: A trip to London, a four-night stay at the Metropolitan Hotel and, drum roll, airfare on Virgin Atlantic's dreamy looking Premium Economy class. To enter, click HERE and sign up for Tablet Hotels emails. This runs through July 31.