Heading for the jungle
When you have trouble seeing you need to pack as if you’re heading for the jungle. You have to be prepared for the unexpected. It’s wise to take back-ups of essentials that your family probably can’t lend you – magnifying spectacles, digital recorder, etc. Pack for yourself, though it may take longer, so you can put your hand on what you want when you want it.
Packing your clothes
I pack my case like a closet – one drawer (zip lock bag) for socks and another for underwear. Outfits are folded together, or put ready on a hanger. I pack extra shirts and pants. It’s easy to drip on your clothes when you don’t see well. (If you are sitting at a tiny table, or eating an ice cream, the chance of dropping something on yourself gets really high.) I put pairs of shoes in plastic shopping bags, (who knows what I may step in without noticing) and a bigger waterproof bag for laundry.
Packing toiletries and meds
I like the toiletry organizers that open and hang down in a strip. I can pack all the “wet” things like toothbrush, soap etc. in one waterproof section, and put dry things like my hairbrush and medications in another. I can get close up to the pockets to recognize what I want, and know which pocket contains which bottle by touch. The toiletry organizer can be hung on the bathroom door or placed directly onto the shower head. Either way, no foolish person will move my toothpaste and then wonder why I‘m upset. You can also find roller bags with a removable toiletry organizer clipped inside. Any toiletry bag or zip-lock can be used – it’s just not so easy to find your eye drops when everything is mixed together. Either way, the important thing is to replace each item in the bag or toiletry organizer after you use it.
Packing your equipment
When you are new to vision problems, you may feel uncomfortable using a magnifier or recorder in front of your friends or family. But if you bring everything anyway – books and magazines to listen to, magnifier, telescope – anything you are using – then you can decide at the time what you are ready to display. And you can always use your big TV spectacles or your NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) book player behind the closed door of your room. You might bring a strip of self-adhesive, orange, raised bumps in case you want to mark the channel changer on the TV remote, or the minute button on the microwave. You can peel the bumps off with your fingernail when you leave.
When you arrive at your destination, hang your clothes against one wall of the closet so they are easy to locate. Choose drawers that are easy to find as well, like the top drawers or the ones nearest your bed. Give yourself as much space as possible – so the pile of T-shirts is lying in its own little space and the same with the underwear pile. This makes everything easier to find by touch and color contrast. If possible empty your clothes case, but leave your spectacles, magnifiers and recorder tucked into your equipment bag or purse. Plug everything that charges into an outlet immediately you arrive. Then you know that all those small easy-to-lose items are either in your bag, or attached to the wall.
Asking your family for closet space
If you are staying with family or friends, ask in advance for some drawer and closet space to be emptied for your use. This is not an easy proposition especially the first few times you do it. [Check out tips in the blog post series “A Home That Works for Everyone” which will be posted here soon.]
In charge of your own stuff
Now you’re all set for a well-organized weekend. You may still need assistance getting around a new place, or reading price tags, but you have somewhere to read, relax and prepare for a walk, a swim, or dinner. Maybe you will feel more like your old self – organized, and in charge of your own stuff.
What’s your tip for successful packing?