Travelling Light

We are packing to go off for a week's holiday, and when I look at all of the gear laid out on the bed and the 3 suitcases needed to squish the gear into, I remember fondly a time when I travelled light



Multiple suitcases

What happened to the days when I could travel for months without being encumbered by multiple suitcases?

I look on with envy at backpackers and 'carry on luggage' passengers, whilst I'm struggling to manoeuvre a trolley so laden down with bags that I'm amazed the paparazzi haven't mistaken me for a celebrity's PA. Or customs haven't stopped me for smuggling.

Blaming it on the kids

I would like to say that times have changed because I've got kids. Certainly when they were babies I felt we were travelling with the kitchen sink. Like many first time mums, I couldn't accept that other countries would sell the right nappies, baby wipes and formula. So I ended up with a suitcase full of the stuff.

But now my boys are older, most of their holiday packing can be squeezed into a shoebox. And they still end up bringing clean clothes home.

They take after my husband. He has only ever packed 2 pairs of pants, no matter how long the holiday. And often 1 pair will come back unused. It makes me shudder.

However, given half a chance my youngest would bring all 53 of his soft toys with him, and has tried to sneak in a fair few when my back was turned.

But the truth is that I've only got myself to blame when I stare at the unnecessary piles of clothes lying out on the bed.

Why can't I pack like I used to?

When I left school, I was lucky enough to go to America on a pupil exchange programme. I was placed with a host family and attended a high school with the daughter of that family.

I remember being met off the plane by the daughter, Robin, and her looking in astonishment at the 1 suitcase I had brought for the entire 8 months of my stay. "Where's the rest of your luggage", she drawled. It turned out that Robin never travelled with less than 2 suitcases, even for a weekend away. I think that's where the rot started to set in, and by the end of my stay, some 8 months later, I had acquired 2 more suitcases of 'stuff' to cart home.

Gap Year No. 2

A few years after that first gap year, I was lucky/lazy enough to take a 2nd year off after I'd finished Law College and before I started work as a solicitor in the city. I thought I owed it to myself to see the world before I found myself stuck behind a desk for the rest of my life. Plus I'd been hit by a car whilst on my motorbike in my 2nd year and the insurance claim had just come through and I was all for blowing the whole lot on seeing the world.

This time I was going backpacking throughout South America, Central America and eventually travelling around the US. I would be away for a year. And I only had 1 rucksack for the whole duration. Given that I would be experiencing sub-zero temperatures followed by fantastically hot climates I had to pack for every eventuality.

How on earth did I get it into one backpack? I've recently looked at the pictures from that year, and clearly I only wore one outfit the whole time, and added a very unflattering poncho when it was cold. I did not look cool. And I must have smelt awful.

How times have changed. Nowadays my wash bag requires its own suitcase.

Amanda Coxen, Working Mum and Tinies Director

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