I have reread Joan Didion’s “The White Album” more times than I can count. Included in that book is her packing list (below). I would love to see an entire book of just the packing lists of interesting, famous people. Though this was written in an era of travel that seems more romantic than the one that we have now. Can you imagine going through security with a typewriter? My version of the packing list is above (credit below), I think Joan and I would travel well together.
To Pack and Wear:
2 jerseys or leotards
1 pullover sweater
2 pair shoes
nightgown, robe slippers
bag with: shampoo, toothbrush and paste, Basis soap, razor, deodorant, aspirin, prescriptions, Tampax, face cream, powder, baby oil
2 legal pads and pens
This is a list which was taped inside my closet door in Hollywood during those years when I was reporting more or less steadily. The list enabled me to pack, without thinking, for any piece I was likely to do. Notice the deliberate anonymity of costume: in a skirt, a leotard, and stockings, I could pass on either side of the culture. Notice the mohair throw for trunk-line flights (i.e. no blankets) and for the motel room in which the air conditioning could not be turned off. Notice the bourbon for the same motel room. Notice the typewriter for the airport, coming home: the idea was to turn in the Hertz car, check in, find an empty bench, and start typing the day’s notes.
—Joan Didion, The White Album
packing list credits: cashmere pullover sweater / vintage typewriter / oversized sunglasses / clarks spy belle booties / bourbon / legal pads / mohair throw / oscar de la renta caftan / fsny ballet flats