IF YOU WANT TO GET TO know someone really quickly, get them to send you the suitcase they’ve just packed for their holiday. Open it up, and you’ll get a precise snapshot of their personality.
At one end of the spectrum, you get neatly folded piles of expensive clothes in a lasagne of tissue paper packed into a rigid black suitcase. At the other, you get an explosion of assorted crumpled grunge packed under the pressure of three housemates sitting on it.
Expert packers ensure that everything is beautifully folded before stacking it neatly into the case. For people who have never folded anything in their life, this is a bit of a non-starter. For these people, the duffle bag was invented, which allows the effortless transfer of holiday packing direct from the laundry basket.
A good way of packing is to start with yourself naked and pretend that you’re getting dressed. In this way, you will systematically remember every article of clothing. The only drawback to this approach is if the taxi arrives half an hour early.
When couples pack for a holiday, the man often enters the bedroom to find his partner’s case beautifully and neatly packed. He wonders how she managed it until he opens his own suitcase and finds it 90% packed with the rest of her packing. One reason for this is that even if women are going on a caving expedition, they pack as if there might be a cocktail party involved somewhere.
Male packing is very straightforward. For a two-week holiday, you need six t-shirts, two pairs of pants (one for best) and a Swiss Army knife to do manly things like rewiring the apartment, skinning rabbits and calming restless natives.
Women pack on the basis that, unless it’s physically bigger than the suitcase, it goes in the suitcase. When they’ve finished packing, the house looks like they’re just moved out. Light packing will typically include seven novels, bandages, photos of loved ones, purse, mobile phone, make-up bag, women’s private thingies, handbag, torch, spare tights, 38 pairs of knickers, little black dress, sewing kit, laptop, thermos, little miniature handbag, lip salve, personal organiser, 15 litres of mineral water, address book, fire extinguisher, tissues, 17 pairs of shoes, safety pins, last five year’s receipts, 400 tops, yoghurt, safety nightie, naughty nightie, mints, hairbrush, light bulb, eight magazines, anvil etc.
However much you pack, it’s almost impossible to leave without forgetting something. Experienced travellers know that the things most often forgotten are camera, torch, adaptor, pills, glasses and teabags. Experienced travellers remember all these things but sometimes get a little bit cocky and forget something vital like their trousers.
© GUY BROWNING IS THE AUTHOR OF ‘NEVER PUSH WHEN IT SAYS PULL’ AND CREATOR OF ‘TORTOISE IN LOVE’ (DVD) – USED BY PERMISSION.