Packing Up and Heading Home

You can swear at it, sit on it, pack it and repack it, tear your hair out and then start all over again– It’s a fact of life your, the law of holiday physics – your case just won’t hold all the stuff you brought with you.  It all fitted in nicely when you packed to come on holiday. Sure, it had been lovingly ironed and neatly folded. Now, as you pack to go home, you are not packing, but scrunching, stuffing your dirty clothing into an ever-shrinking suitcase, leaving you to wonder, has my case really shrunk or has my clothing just doubled in size? 

Who cares about having neatly folded clothing? You’re going home. You’re not actually going to wear any of this sand, sweat, hand-washed half damp holiday apparel. All this stuff is going to end up as a ball in the bottom of your laundry basket, slowly festering away for days on end until you manage to find time to wash it.

Next into the suitcase – the laptop, the i-Pad, and the i-pad dock – all the electronic crap we take with us. Sure, it’s all neat and highly mobile, but then come all the wires and plugs needed to charge and recharge. Did you really need all this stuff? Couldn’t you have lived for just one week without Internet, besides you’ve got your Smartphone with its Internet connexion, music player and camera.

Homebound packing takes longer than holiday packing. At home you know where everything is – on holiday, you have carelessly scattered your possessions all over an unfamiliar house or apartment. You can’t remember where you have put anything and spend hours wandering from room to room looking for stuff on shelves, in cupboards, in draws. Where did I put the charger for the mobile phone? I can’t remember that « safe » place I put my passport and driving licence.  It’s all here somewhere though. You just have to find it.

Finally you assemble your possessions to stuff into your case – of course you never used half the stuff you brought with you. There is still some clean clothing  – that will just get scrunched in with the dirty stuff. You didn’t need three pairs of shoes. Why did you bring an umbrella? It’s a fact of holiday life. You never use half the stuff you take and if you try to cut down, taking only half the stuff you normally do, and then it’s sure that you will end up needing double.

Don’t worry; it will all fit in the end.

The dilemma of homebound packing is easily resolved by the initial holiday packing.

No matter what you need, you try and take the minimum because at the end of the holiday, you are going to bring it all back home – so, take nothing. Just the clothes you are wearing and your credit card. Buy cheap stuff when you get to your destination and then give it all away before you come back. Alternatively buy a load of cheap gear before you go, and then just leave it, Chuck it or give it away before you come back.  It makes good economic sense.

If you buy your gear on arrival it means you don’t have to take a huge suitcase with you, meaning to that you won’t have to pay the exorbitant baggage rates charged by some charter airlines.

Buying your holiday gear on the spot also means that your are helping the local economy and if you donate it to a local charity before you leave; you are helping those less fortunate than yourself.

Finally when you come home, you don’t have to wash anything, thus saving time, electricity, water, and wear and tear on your washing machine.

It makes good sense to take nothing with you. Besides, have you seen the price of a decent suitcase?

Ah, but what about photos. I’ll need to take a camera? Rubbish, just snap away with your mobile phone or simply buy postcards. Those professional photographers employed to take postcard clichés are always going to take a better photo than you.

What about consulting my e-mails?

Well you can do that on your phone or if not, take a trip to the local cyber café.

Of course, we don’t just bring back what we took. We insist on souvenirs – mostly cheap crap that will sit around on a shelf at home, gathering dust until the day you die, after which it will be thrown out by your surviving relatives. You have to bring home presents though – the next door neighbour who has collected your mail and watered your plants, she deserves a little something – and that is exactly what she gets “a little something.”  We never buy anything decent for the folks back home, (mind you, is there ever anything decent to buy?) Will your neighbours thank you for a tacky fridge  magnet from somewhere they have never been and might never go?  Forget the folks back home, just send then postcard, wishing them “wish you were here” – Of course you don’t wish that they were where you are – the whole point of going on holiday is to get way from the the people you leave behind. As for the neighbor?  He or she has done you a great service – thank them properly – take them out to a nice restaurant instead of bringing them back a hand painted bad taste mantelpiece “monument”. (Mind you, there are those who like tacky holiday souvenirs and finding the tackiest souvenir possible can often be a “fun” holiday activity)

Back to the bags …

I doubt if many travellers will adopt the « no luggage » solution. We always burden ourselves with heavy bags, and we never seem to take our existing clothing but insist on buying something for the holidays. New swimsuits, new T-shirts, latest holiday fashion. God forbid that we take what we wore last year, it will be unfashionable. Well, if this is your dilemma, just go somewhere unfashionable where no one cares about fashion.

I know, that I will never adopt the « no luggage » solution, and that my holiday packing and repacking will always be fraught moments. Every year, I swear that I will just grab a minimalist fistful of clothing, shove it in a bag and then pray for good weather, and every year, I always end up with a heavy bag. I might just try a nudist colony next year.