My travel writing journo colleague, Australian Tim Richards recently wrote an admirable piece on light packing. http://www.tinyurl.com/k9fxto7 This is my view. It’s not necessarily the polar opposite, but it’s close:
The disparate group crowded together at the airline check-in gate can be usually outed as travel journalists. Among the group will be Know-All who has already been everywhere and will spent the whole trip making sure none of us forget it, the person who will turn out to be Mr (or Ms) Awkward – and Light Packer. Light Packer has a rucksack the size of a postage stamp and if I’m not mistaken, a slightly smug smile on his face. Light Packers are nearly always male. The smile turns to practised incredulity as I rock up with my travel trunk. I am not a Light Packer and never will be. Part of that reason is I am a girl.
In case female Light Packers (I’ve only ever met one, a rare bird) come down on me, I did say ‘part’ of the reason. I am sorry Michael O’Leary but I’m always going to have a bag that goes in the hold. Maybe there is a reason I’ve only flown Ryanair once.
Girls/ladies/women have more stuff than men. That is a fact. We have to have certain items in our wash bag other than a toothbrush and paste. We can’t chuck away our razor and think, “Sod it, I’ll grow a beard for a week.” And that little trick of wearing all black and hoping the dirt doesn’t show or no one will notice you wear your socks three days running? Eeeew. Banned substances wise, I started using liquids and creams years before quantities over 100ml were verboten and most of my stuff does not conveniently come in the desired mini size. Yes, I could decant everything, but really, it’s not going to happen. As well as shampoo and conditioner, I have shower gel, moisturiser, foundation, eye cream, nail varnish and remover– you get the idea. Then, a whole load of things to take the lot off later – I know, crazy – cold cream, toner, face wash. And don’t forget the dry goods – facecloth, cotton buds, cotton wipes, and hairband and shower cap. Then there is the equipment to dry and style my hair – at a minimum a hairdryer, curling tongs and numerous brushes. There’s the ‘time of the month’ requisites – look away now boys – taking up the size of a novel but just in case it’s that awkward month when you need to call in the reinforcements, I may need to pack something the size of a small pillow. I suppose I could wait until I get to my destination and then spend ages finding a shop that sells what I need. Not many phrase books seem to have ‘sanitary towels’ in the dictionary at the back. You know what? I’d rather spend my time in the bar.
Then we come on to shoes and clothes. Since I’m not 19 any more, unlike my daughter, I can’t quite carry off the ‘Doc Martens with cocktail dress’ look. Actually, I can’t wear Doc Martens any more which is a shame. Sometimes being a mature woman has tragic and unexpected consequences. In any case, whatever behemoth footwear I don during the day, tramping the streets so I can write insightful things about a destination, I can’t wear at night. Besides, what is the point of buying cute ballet pumps from that little boutique down the side street near the Duomo in Milan if I then decide not to pack them? Shoes are bought to be worn and enjoyed and since I spend most of my life travelling, in my suitcase they go. Similarly, I want to change out of my jeans and scruffy tee shirt combo and wear something elegant and decent in the evening, especially if I’m reviewing a smart restaurant. Cue packing a few items of jewellery. Well what’s the use of going to the Gold Souk in Dubai if I’m going to keep my bargains in a jewellery box? Of course an evening dress needs a smart jacket, and so the list it goes on…
Besides, I love my travelling and I don’t want to suffer for my art by depriving myself of a few travelling comforts, whether they are toiletries, clothes or shoes. I’m a very quick packer, so at a moment’s notice – I’m ready to roll, literally. (Much better than folding).
So long as I can lift it myself, my case and I are happy. I’m a Heavy Packer and proud.