Why is packing impossible? In any given five weeks at home I am sure I wear the same four outfits over and over again, but as soon as I have to put them in a bag I am inspired to bust out some new look I’ve been thinking of rocking. Add to it the dumb notions of what might be appropriate wherever I’m going and suddenly I’m carrying on (to the cats, natch) about whether people style their jeans skinny or baggy in South Africa, and should I wear my Puma shoes as an homage to the local wildlife, and should I costume myself as somebody’s dad and wear a ridiculous Tilly hat and a pocket vest in neutrals.
And just when you’ve got the math right (the ratio of pants to shorts must be divided by the sum of your smalls to the power of your tees), you have to handle toiletries. I’d like to believe that if the airlines hadn’t made toiletries verboten I would be able to travel the world in a single carry on. Not to mention the added stress of having to register and obtain licenses for all of my nail clippers, tweezers, and liquids over 100ml. The paperwork on that alone is beastly, but added to the various insurance documents, plane tickets, and my passport I am actually considering buying a travel wallet. You know, one of those leatherette dossiers that make you look like Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart? I always loved the part of the opening credits when he and Mrs. Hart wake up in their giant king sized bed and the camera pans out to reveal that they’re on the back of a flatbed truck, presumably being driven to their demise by bad guys. Such adventure!
Then there’s the baggage type: pack, wheely, or duffel? Regular readers know I’ve borrowed a backpack for the trip, but those who know me well won’t be surprised to learn that that is not the end of it. Oh no, I could decide to go wheely – and back again – several times between now and my departure. Obviously the aforementioned Canadian Tire wheelies are out of the questions because they are downright lazy when push comes to shove, but there is another option: I could risk bringing the Unstable Mother Bag. The Unstable Mother Bag comes from Argentina, where I purchased it on the advice of my good friend Inti. Shaped like a loaf of bread on wheels with jaunty racing stripes on the side, the bag caught Inti’s eye for how much it looked like a bigger version of my classic Adidas gym bag, hence, “Mother”. And in a land where I could order a steak so large they serve it directly off the cutting board for around $4 Canadian, I paid the equivalent of $50 for the Mother Bag. We rolled it home problem-free, chatting about all the stuff it would hold. It wasn’t until the Mother Bag was fully loaded that I discovered its defect: an encumbered Mother Bag loses its centre, hence “unstable”. Through all seven switchbacks of the check-in counter in Buenos Aires I wrestled that bag along like a drunken companion. Inti was no help; he was too busy snapping photos to lend a hand…
And it doesn’t end with the checked baggage. Does my daypack count as a purse or is it all I can bring onboard? I hate it when I’ve got my paperback, laptop, zippy jacket, and sleepytime travel kit with eyeshades, Gravol, and earplugs all jammed into my bag so as soon as you dig in to locate your earphones or sunglasses or chapstick, the entire thing explodes and you’re left apologizing to your seatmate for the personal detritus you’ve just heaved all over their lap.
Also, weight restrictions. How much is a kilo? Seriously.