With greater globalisation and an increasingly mobile population, people are frequently packing their bags to travel.  Suitcases and the items to be packed within are sometimes carefully selected in preparation for the journey.  When time and other commitments permit, items may be laid out some time before departure, reviewed, culled and carefully packed for the journey ahead. On such occasions – and especially with an extended journey in mind – items to be packed may be categorised, grouped, layered and carefully positioned in a pre-ordained pattern so that retrieval of items is easier upon reaching a destination. At other times, when the traveller is time-limited and/or stressed, items may be quickly shoved, in a chaotic manner, into the suitcase or bag.  This haphazard approach may mean that critical items are left behind and it may be extremely difficult to locate and retrieve packed items upon reaching a destination.

Sometimes the term ‘baggage’ is used to convey the additional weight that must be carried on a journey. This may refer to the additional (usually perceived as negative) emotional, social, cultural or cognitive ‘load’ that is carried around within, inevitably impacting upon the individual’s ability to function well, to be agile, flexible, spontaneous and fast moving.

The human skull is sometimes referred to as a ‘brain box’ because it acts as a relatively strong, secure container to hold, safeguard and carry around the brain.

Whatever the container, it is whatever lies within and the manner in which material has been packed that determines the usefulness of the luggage and allows for effective retrieval.  Whether a purpose-designed suitcase or backpack that is packed to enable effective storage, travel transfers and facilitates retrieval at journey’s end or a ‘brain box’ that stores essential memories in a manner that allows for rapid retrieval, it is often the way in which items are ‘packed’ that makes a significant difference.

There are significant parallels between studying in preparation for tests and exams and packing to go on a long journey.  In either situation, it is the careful, detailed preparation and a systematic approach to storing whatever might be needed – even as far as reviewing, culling, categorising, layering and positioning items within the container (whether suitcase or brain) to facilitate retrieval, that has the greatest impact. Last-minute, chaotic shoving into a suitcase can be likened to cramming before an exam.  Finding what is needed at the end of the journey will inevitably take longer and some essential items are likely to have been missed when packing.

By starting the preparation process earlier; adopting a more considered approach to the load and packing only what is needed; taking a systematic approach to categorising and layering items; thinking about how and where certain items might be needed and positioning items with retrieval in mind, individuals will significantly influence the effectiveness of packing a suitcase as well as studying in preparation for exams.  Bon voyage!

© Michele Juratowitch