Sunday, January 19, 2014

Its in the bag!

Packing! I have never been very good at this and you would think with my travel record that I would have learned something. I do everything that the book says - I make a list, colour coordinate my outfits, pack dual purpose cosmetics eg – a bodywash that is a shampoo as well and just when it all looks neat and efficient, I throw in all the things that I cannot live without!

When pregnant with my first a stay in hospital was necessary – I didn’t do this with the other 3 boys, but not because I can’t pack – I packed a neat little case in my 30th week and it sat expectantly (excuse the pun) in the hallway ready for the big day. When it came I was admitted to hospital and stayed there for 3 days only to be told I was not in labour! “I am,” I protested but I was led panting out of the building and deposited at my mothers who promptly emptied my case of now worn sleepwear and washed everything. Three hours later I was rushed, panting harder, back in to the same ward with a black plastic bag of half dry nighties – hurriedly packed by a panicking husband and traumatised mother. My son was born before the washing was dry and I stayed in a hospital issue pauper gown while all the yummy mummy’s around me sat in floral sprigged splendour!

The big exodus to South Africa with a family of then six necessitated 2 taxis to get us to the airport – one for the family and one for our luggage. I could not envisage Lee or Wrangler jeans being sold in Africa nor Clarke's leather shoes so I bought enough pairs of both to last until the boys turned 16 – I was right about the Clarke's shoes! The luggage pile at check in looked as if a tour group were about to depart.

On recent trips back and forth to the UK and elsewhere, I have returned with rolls of wallpaper, brass ornaments, a silk double bed sized duvet, mirrors, teapots, silk topiary trees and once a small carpet which I was prepared to wear if the check in desk rejected my weight allowance plea.

On my last couple of trips overseas I have arrived at “the other side” with odd shoes – well they were both black and I might have worn them but they were 2 left feet! Clothes that I had shrunk in transit - well that’s my story and I am sticking to it - and I once managed not to pack any underwear at all – I simply forgot.

When I was in the UK in September I ‘lost’ the combination number to my suitcase and had to split the stitching open and pull my possessions through a hole. I never got that case opened and had to buy another one for the return journey.

Determined to get it right this time – I went online and looked for some tips. This is what I found!

  1. Choose versatile clothing and footwear that fit into your travel activities. Versatile clothing means you pack fewer items, especially if they can do double duty.No need to pack my burgundy hand painted silk skirt then – it comes everywhere with me because I LOVE it!
  2. Stick to simple colour schemes and patterns so that all clothing mixes and matches. I do this but the pile of fifty shades of neutral grey garments have to be rescued by another pile of red, purple and blue! 
  3. Separates give you lots of outfit possibilities.  Yes! But why do mine make me look like a bag lady when I coordinate them on ‘the other side”. 
  4. A packing list can help you organize the items you’re bringing. Critically look at the packing list and see where items can be eliminated or replaced with lightweight or double duty items. Done the list thing and then once I have packed everything on the list – I have to pack my favourites and the things I really really need!
  5. Do what I call a “shakedown a week or so before departure.  Lay everything out that’s on your packing list and make sure all clothing coordinates.  Try things on if necessary because you may not have access to a full-length mirror during your trip and you want to ensure all your outfits fit well.  Edit out any unnecessary items.  Note anything you might be missing. Are you MAD – a week before!!! Planning to me means packing an hour – max – 2 before I leave!
  6. Bring enough outfits to last a few days and plan on laundering clothing. That can mean doing laundry in hotel/hostel sinks, laundromats, or using a laundry service. I am going on holiday!
  7. Lightweight materials dry quicker and take up less space than bulky knits. Look for clothing made from modal, viscose, rayon, tencel, cotton blends or lightweight cotton. Avoid 100% bulky cotton clothing, it takes too long to air dry and takes up too much precious space. Everything I pick up is lightweight – it’s just when it’s all in the case that it weights 30K. I have learned about washing bulky dressing gowns by flooding more than one hotel bathroom.
  8. Wear bulky items on travel days. Items such as jeans, sweaters, boots, and coats worn on travel days keep your luggage light. No Ways!!! This article was obviously written by someone who travels in the same hemisphere. I saw a lady at the airport in PE this morning in jeans, a coat and sheepskin boots, she had obviously read this article. It was 28C and she did not look well…or sane!
  9. Choose clothes that help you layer appropriately for the weather conditions of your destination. Yes – I am beautifully layered today – the other 5 layers are in my carry on bag!
  10. Accessories increase your outfit options and keep your looks from being boring. A belt changes a look instantly, so can a scarf. Introduce colour and pattern in you accessories if you like. Ok the person who wrote this article has a waist! I have packed several scarves and pashminas and I do know that chunky accessories often with a ton!
  11. Pack double duty toiletry items. If you are carrying on luggage make sure all toiletry items meet – I have my double duty items – they added 2 K to my luggage weight. Better still buy them on “the other side” or steal your sisters!!!
  12. Keep your secondary carry on bag light as well. There’s nothing worse than lugging around a heavy carry-on in addition to your luggage. My carry on bag is full of the things that keep me in touch with myself and the world – laptop, ipad, GPS, Kindle assorted chargers and then there is just enough space for my coat and boots needed on arrival in the frozen north. I agree that it should be light though as I have been whacked in the face by several heavy ones hanging from the shoulders of ignorant travelers as they barge down the aisle!
  13. Constantly edit and evaluate what you plan on bringing. Look at your packing list after a trip and note any unused items.  This will help you pack for your next trip and become a light traveller. Oh no it doesn’t.  Remember, in your travels you'll meet two kinds of tourists — those who pack light and those who wish they had.  I obviously belong to the latter! Is there any hope for me?



  1. So glad that i packed my sarong - its 7C here!

  2. Lol. So funny and I can identify with all of that. Enjoy your holiday leave the washing for when you get home xx

  3. lol me too (having to buy a cardi in SA)!!!

    enjoy your hol x