Holidays, breaks, mini-breaks, even days out imply happy times, relaxation, a break from the old routine. And eventually they are, but first you have to overcome a big hurdle…packing.
I used to holiday in sunny climes with Sister and various friends, usually for a fortnight, and it wasn’t a success if the suitcase wasn’t labelled ‘Caution – heavy’ at the departure airport. 14 days and nights away takes a lot of clothes when you’re in your twenties. But never once did any of us face excess charges, or spend time packing and unpacking. In it went, off it went and happy holidays. Alas, Family Packing has a completely different strategy.
Budget airlines have a lot to answer for. Holidaying in my twenties was different full stop. Off we’d go to our local Lunn Poly or Going Places and book our package. Not now. We’re all independent travellers these days, and half the time that involves a budget airline who really just want you to travel in the clothes you’re wearing. In the old package days, the hand luggage limit was always 5kg, because they said that any more would be dangerous if it fell on your from the overhead locker. Seems like we’ve all grown tougher heads now, because it’s ok to take 10kg. And then you do start to wonder whether you really do need to check in hold luggage at all…
But of course I do. I take two bags to work, so I’ve no chance of getting any further with just hand luggage. How do people manage it? I don’t buy into this idea of the capsule wardrobe. Who are these women who can wear the same floaty dress at the beach and then dress it up for a night out? Do they not sweat? They certainly must not travel with an extra set of hands who, in the absence of a tissue or napkin think nothing of wiping hands/face/nose on a bit of maternal clothing. So therein lies part of the problem – it is a massive gamble to plan to wear anything twice (sweating aside) when you travel with children. And not just your own. Mother has many a chocolaty hand wiped on her, and Sister suffered at a recent meal out when she sat by Daughter. I wonder if it was coincidence when Niece spilt a drink on Husband last week or whether she’d been put up to it. And I’ve got a super clean child, bar the odd spill on a family member, but a risk nonetheless.
I get to be In Charge of packing, because I’m apparently Better At It. Hmm. That means remembering anything that could be classed as a common family item; toothpaste, sun lotion, first aid, Daughter. Then I have to fit the packing pint in the suitcase half-pint pot. I can fill a 15kg suitcase with my own gear, no problem. So what’s got to give when I’m faced with the holiday needs of a three person family? I must point out here I’m only talking about a short break here, for a week or more the extortionate price per case is cheaper than the cost of my sanity!
At this point, I try my best to action all of the magazine articles I’ve read over the years about multi-tasking products and accessorizing outfits to make them look different, but it all goes against my inherent need for spares. Being a bit of a worst case scenario person, I think that I need lots of spare things. Some of them are sensible, like a spare pair of contact lenses (despite the fact I’ve never actually used a spare pair when on holiday), but when we went to Greece this summer I was stung with a £60 excess luggage fee and brought home two unworn dresses, six unworn pairs of knickers and about five outfits that Daughter hadn’t worn. I need to get more packing savvy, but it’s hard when you like to live a life with excessive amounts of stuff. It distresses me that I wear the same perfume every day on holiday, but who has the weight allowance for more than one bottle?! Uncle used to talk about taking two t-shirts on holiday, wear one and doby the other (apparently this means wash), and we used to laugh about it, squeezing our curling tongs and another pair of sandals in our bulging cases, but not now. If only I had some of Uncle’s minimalism skills (which Aunty used to say didn’t exist, by the way).
Now Daughter is five, I like to involve her with some of the packing decisions, but it seems she has my excess genes:
Me: Which cuddly do you want to take?
Her: And Disney
Her: And Aslan. And Shelley. And Chococat. And…
And so the Krypton Factor game continues. Or maybe it’s the hokey cokey – in, out, in, out, throw it on the floor in a fit of frustration… And then just when I think I’m done, Husband will present his actual capsule wardrobe, which will get pride of place on the top of the case whilst my stuff is scrunched up in a corner because it’s been in and out the case so many times.
All very stressful. But the thought of some sun on my face and an escape from the pressures of day to day life makes it all worthwhile. Even the thought of packing to go home again doesn’t take the shine off a holiday; after all, if it wasn’t in the room when you arrived, the likelihood is that you need to pack it up again. What I wonder though, is why, when you’ve used all your sun lotion, shampoo, shower gel etc. and not actually bought any holiday tat, is why your case is never any lighter on the way home!