If I am going to have a great international adventure, I will need to get a handle on my luggage. My father always advised that no-one should ever pack more than they could easily manage to move by themselves. As was often the case (so to speak), I ignored him, but in this instance it seems he did have a grip (sorry) on reality. This afternoon, with the help of a well-toned friend, I lugged one large suitcase, one carry-on, a capacious duffle, plus a Coach tote over-filled with footwear, and my handbag (spewing charger cords, emergency undies and out-of-date American supermarket discount cards) into an Uber in order to get across London. Did I mention I have a second jumbo bag which I abandoned at my brother’s some weeks ago? It is full of summer clothes I haven’t missed. Today’s trunk, hauled last week from America, is autumn wear. It is too much to bear. I need to scale back in order to be properly peripatetic. During any on-boarding, I am always the one who blocks the aisle, resting the base of my bag on my bosom while I try to tip the top half into the bin. Almost always, some lean, strong, young man with a rope bracelet, cargo shorts and a t-shirt takes the bag from me and completes the task, biceps bulging. Foot traffic starts to move again in the gangway as I slide sweatily into my seat, tugging my top back down across my midriff (also bulging), and setting my steamed-up glasses straight. If the young man is particularly unlucky, he will be sitting in the row in front of me. As soon as we land, I will swipe him with my bag as I try and fail to manage it aloft–whhump like a sack of cornmeal hitting a stanchion. The young man says “Shit” and rubs the side of his face and neck. I say “Sorry, Sorry, Sorry” and swear to myself that I will take up weight-bearing exercise. But of course I never do.
All of this is about to change. I will be minimalist when in motion from now on. ‘Easy’, you think, ‘just throw out or donate the stuff you wear least’, but I am not so sure. I think I need an overhaul of my laundry habits and a change in clothing choices if I am ever to manage travelling light.
In common with many Western middle-aged women of some means and significant heft, I favour a layered, linen-look. I visit the dry cleaner as an addict does a dealer. I am a stranger to the clothes horse, peg bag, spray starch and steam iron. This won’t be an option though if I am to travel to parts of the world where tetrachloroethylene is in short supply. Could it be time to ditch the drapey dishcloth look and swap natural fibres for easy care synthetics? I fear my at-one-with-the-planet look and rustic peasant vibe won’t wash in the developing world. (Picture credits: Tim Brown)