Dopp Kit

I’m carrying less these days.

My dad used to travel with a leather case for toiletries. The case itself was handsome and sturdy, but perhaps its greatest appeal was that it wasn’t big. What would fit in there? Just a few things. The essentials. He called it his Dopp kit.

I used to think that word was either his own invention (not unlikely) or a military abbreviation (also not unlikely), but it turns out to be a brand named after an early 20th c. leather craftsman named Charles Doppelt. Recently I realized that I’ve kept the image of my dad’s Dopp kit as my ideal for packing well. Clean and organized, simple and spare.

My dad’s Dopp kit today. I asked him about it, and he sent me a photo.
No longer leather, but it’s still a great Dopp.

And hard to achieve. For years I’ve traveled with a variety of cosmetics, stuff for my hair and face and ears and toes, stuff in case I have a cold or headache or rash, stuff in case I pick up an entirely different personality when I’m on the road. But slowly, through the simple lesson of carrying it all and not enjoying its weight or bulk, I let stuff go. Do I fuss that much when I’m at home? I do not. My toilette routine is simple, and the older I get, the simpler it is. Why complicate things while traveling? So, I no longer do.

All I really need.

I’m packing for a short trip to New York City, and I’m keeping it light and easy. I carry a bit more than shown in this photo, but not much more. My little bag is no longer a burgeoning toiletries bag, but something closer to a classic Dopp kit. I’ll have to thank my dad for modeling that spartan pleasure. [Thanks, Dad.]

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