Rising from the sea

Driving along the coast road from Normandy to Brittany, we began to see Mont St. Michel when we were still miles away. Rising from the waters of the surrounding bay, it was enshrouded with mist as though trying to conceal some mystical secrets.

From a distance, you can see why 12th and 13th century citizens would travel long distances on a pilgrimage here, its spirituality rising like the Mont and drawing them nearer. We felt that same anticipation.

Unfortunately, most of our excitement dissipated as we drove over the causeway and were overwhelmed, not by the monument, but by the crowds. As one of France’s main tourist attractions, Mont-St.-Michel, declared a historic monument in 1874 and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, draws thousands of tourists each day on their own pilgrimage – to eat, shop and swim.

Packing invention works.

If you’re like me, packing for a trip can be stressful. But after a number of trips where I packed way more than I could comfortably carry, I decided that I needed an intervention. And thanks to tips from friends, family and colleagues, I’ve gotten packing down to a science from which I never stray. The results? A happier packing experience, yes. But more importantly, a happier trip experience.

Here are my essential rules:

Less is Way Better than More.
This is rule number one to pack by. So many clothes these days are made from lightweight, washable and wrinkle-free fabrics that it’s just not necessary to pack so much. For a one-week trip, just two pairs of pants and a skirt is all I take now. For each additional week, add one more pair of pants. Make one a pair of jeans. They’re comfortable, can be dressed up or down and can be worn several times.