Although it depends how you define packing success. If your definition is being really enthusiastic and prepared for any possible scenario then I’m a genius packer.
But if it’s taking the bare minimum and being able to carry your suitcase more than two metres, then I am indeed crap.
As a rule, men tend to take the latter definition, women the former. I reckon Adam and Eve had a barney on this very subject as they were
preparing to leave the garden of Eden.
Adam: Why do you need six different fig leaves?
Eve: Because I do, OK? I don’t know which one I’ll feel like
wearing. It could be hot, it could be cold. It might rain. I need to be
Adam: This is ridiculous, Eve. We’re trying to travel light. Just take one. They’re all the same anyway.
Eve: Look Adam, they’re absolutely not all the same. One is
green, one is light green, one is olive. And they’re different sizes.
Stop being so controlling.
Adam: Fine. But don’t expect me to carry them for you. And don’t whinge that they’re heavy.
Not much has changed since. Men still complain endlessly about women’s luggage.
Before suitcases had wheels, they possibly had a point. But now that the furthest you have to haul your bag is out of a cab, onto the check-in scales and off the baggage carousel, this point is moot.
One of my friends is married to a packing Nazi. “My husband always insists on unpacking and re-packing my suitcase,” she complains, eyes rolling. “We have to debate every item, the likelihood of me wearing it, how similar it is to other things I’ve packed and how much room it takes up. He even goes through my toiletry bag. Do you know how draining it is to explain the difference between an exfoliant and a scrub? Let alone why I need both. By the end of it, I’m exhausted and my bag contents are cut by 40%. It’s effective but brutal.”
Another couple I know have a holiday house they visit semi-regularly. He’s compiled a list in his palm-pilot of all the clothes and toiletries they keep up there so they can travel light. His ultimate goal is to get into the car with just the kids and the dog. No bags. Now that’s minimal.
I’ve identified two major defects in my packing style. Firstly, I lose my fashion vanity on holiday and happily wear the same thing every day. Except I always forget this and pack everything I own. Just in case.
My other defect is forgetting that I like shopping while on holiday. There’s nothing like new clothes to make your old clothes redundant. But instead of leaving empty space in my bag for new purchases, I stuff it full and have to buy an extra bag to come home with. I am a packing disgrace.
Oh wait, there’s one more defect. This is the dumbest one. The one where rarely worn items decide they need a little holiday too. “Goodness, I’ve never worn this blue floral shirt even though I bought it on sale two years,” I think. “But it could be perfect to wear for, say, brunch or, you know…after a shower.”
Invariably, for the same reason I don’t want wear in my real life, it’s also unwearable on holidays. So it clocks impressive frequent flier miles and stays in my suitcase.
Despite these defects, I’m a packing optimist. I gobble up glossy travel articles featuring glamorous jet-setting women who impart wise tips like: “I choose a colour theme like neutrals or black to maximise my outfit combinations” and “Layering plastic dry-cleaning bags between my clothes stops them creasing.”
I also pore over the pictures of Elle and Liz Hurley swanning through airports looking chic. Why don’t I ever look like that? I look crumpled with stains where I’ve spilt my plane meal. But back to packing.
I start well. I lay things thoughtfully on my bed. I assess their co-ordinability and edit accordingly. But the closer I get to departure, the more hysterically I start grabbing random things until the taxi is beeping and I’m still shoving one more pair of shoes and a spare cossie and my hair straightener into a bag which now refuses to zip up.
I’ve realised that women tend to take the ‘gatherer” approach to packing, while men treat it like a competitive sport: he who takes the least, wins. “I can get up to a week’s worth of clothes into an overhead locker,” boasts a guy friend who travels constantly for work. “Unless your surname is Beckham, no man needs more than two pairs of shoes when travelling.”
Two pairs?!? I’d make a lousy bloke.