Thursday, 6 August 2009

Beyond A Requisite Amount

One day I am going to get on a plane holding nothing apart from a small clutch bag containing passport, ticket, wallet and lipstick, with one paperback book casually stuffed in my pocket. I'll carry my sunnies on my head.

I did once meet a man who travelled like that. We were on a flight from London to Singapore and I noticed him in the boarding lounge, where he was the only person not carrying an inflight bag.

He got on board, put his jacket in the overhead locker and read the book all the way. By the time we made Singapore he'd finished his thriller and he left it on the seat to glide hands - free and footloose through the airport and on to whatever adventures awaited.

I, on the other had, disembarked as I had arrived - Sherpa Peggy, hauling a bulging handbag plus a tote bursting with inflight essentials. By the time I reached my hotel I needed an osteopath.

To be fair to the younger me, it was 30 years ago, when you could never be sure if they would give you anything resembling a toothbrush if you were flying in arse class, so I feel retrospectively justified about the washbag I had in there. But was the large make-up bag also necessary? The change of clothes? The 1.5 litre bottle of water was clearly excessive and I have now learned to scam it from flight attendants, so I no longer make that mistake.

Where I still go wrong, though, is the two newspapers and three glossy magazines. They weigh so much and the lugging is nightmarish, yet I am unable to resist the allure of the newsstand before getting on any kind of transport.

I have tried actively to counter this neurotic tendency by leaving home without the tote, which inevitably becomes full to maximum capacity, but this just led to a grotesque incident where a plastic shopping bag split on public transport and I had to cram bananas, sandwiches and water bottle into my handbag and jacket pockets.

The only crumb of comfort I can take from the understanding that I am a spectacularly unrelaxed traveller, even on relatively short journeys, it that I am clearly not alone in it.

Every transport hub I have ever been to - railways, airports, ferry terminals and bus stations in about 20 different countries - has been a mini medina of stalls and shops catering to transit neurosis, be it via newspaper cones of sunflower seeds, or full-fat mocha lattes and a box of cinnamon rolls.

Clearly something about leaving home - even when we are thrilled at the prospect of our trip - triggers a universal insecurity that compels us to acquire everything we might possibly need until we arrive at our destination.

If only I could convince myself it's just one paperback book.

My kitchen stained glass window I made back in 1983 when blogging hadn't taken over my life.


Unknown said...

Oh I am a neurotic traveller. I pack last minute so I inevitably forget something, usually important item. Plus I either underpack or over pack. Every time I tell myself I need to make a list so I bring what I need, but every year I think I can do it for myself.

Beautiful window! I cant believe you made that! I should commission you to do mine :)

McMGrad89 said...

Are you trying to tell me that I will be a pack mule when we go on our vacay? I still believe we can make it with one carry-on. I have a feeling, however, that you don't believe me.

Sarah Lulu said...

What loved stained glass ...

I am an anxious traveler, even though I love it at the same time.

I take far too much of everything.

I went to Bali hmmm in 1976 I think ..with about 2 kilos of cosmetics!

Roban said...

I am so with you on this! What's worse than carrying around so much is getting stuck somewhere without something to read! I've been there and it's painful...!

I have learned to travel with one carryon and a totebag for magazines and books and my travel documents. It's tough cramming so much into the carryon, and I have worried that it wouldn't fit. But if I get to the bin before others have filled it too full, I can squeeze it in with a little pushing and prayer....

I chuckled when I read about the bag splitting. So like me!

Christine said...

Love your new blog header photo. Oh Peggy, that's the part I hate about travelling...the packing and unpacking, it's seriously stressful. Travelling without all the baggage would be a dream. I pack just to go to the local amusement park...water, snacks, pared down wallet, cellphone, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, wet wipes, kleenex..ohh.

HappyOrganist said...

I want a cinnamon roll. ;-) (stoned out of my mind over here. it's all legal, i assure you. bratty baby kept us up all night. benadryl is not really a good substitute for 8-10 hours of quality sleep) Cinnamon roll sounds perfect

miruspeg said...

I'm enjoying reading your comments.
This post makes a change from my philosophy and spiritual ones.
Thought I needed to lighten up and have a bit of fun with my travelling neurosis before the serious Peggy emerges again!
Big hugs everyone

Keith said...

Oh, I have to take something to read! Right? Seriously, I really do! Don't I?

Very entertaining article, and I love the stained glass! You should create more!

Roban said...

I came back for another peek at your stained glass. It's stunning, Peggy. I've always been a big admirer of stained glass and the artisans who create these beautiful pieces....


Anonymous said...

I like this post, Peggy. A good metaphor for many things -- this need to travel lightly.

On my most recent trip, my carry-on went missing until well after we'd reached our destination. You'd think the main luggage would go astray, but it was the most essential (or so I thought) things that were gone.

And I realized that we really need very little baggage to take with us after all. That everything essential, even gifts, can be replaced.

Bon voyage!

Frequent Traveler said...

Just sounds to me like you are organized and well prepared. I find that smart and nothing to be ashamed of.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the laugh today! Your post left me with images of you, arms filled, trying to get in an out of taxis/shuttles and in to hotels. Wait...that was me!
I do love those news stands...can't leave there without a magazine AND a candy! The book is a must. I have to say the image of the guy with nothing to carry sure appeals to the image I would enjoy as a traveler. I always begin a trip feeling such a sense of freedom, like I am detaching myself from responsiblity and am free to see the world. Okay, since I have to pack for my upcoming road trip I am going to think about this post! Love it!

Evita said...

Hi Peggy!

Interesting thoughts. I don't know what it is like on super long flights as the most I ever fly is 8 hours, but I hear what you are saying.

In fact lately when we travel with my husband, we have cut down our stuff to only one of us carrying a small bag. It is I have to say light and fun to get off the plane like that. It also helps to adopt the attitude that you will be okay no matter what you have or don't have :)

Mike Smith said...

It's a women thing! Honestly...!

TheChicGeek said...

I always bring too much, but I'm much better than I used to be...LOL

I love the idea of jumping on a plane and just as a bird!

Maybe someday :)

Have a Happy Wonderful Weekend!

miruspeg said...

Thanks again everyone for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

Oh Mike, you are so, so right, it IS a woman's thing. Next incarnation I am going to come back as a man!!!

Have a great weekend fellow bloggers.


SILVER said...

;) Now that explains why i;ve had picked up so many kinds of books on those seats and net pockets (infront of those passenger seats)... while i was on duty..


Anonymous said...

Hand luggage only IS the way to go ....but,of course it depends where you are going and for how long! I found I didn't even use everything in the one moderate-sized bag I took on board on our trip to the Scottish Highlands last year and it certainly speeds things up at the airport.

Excellent stained glass, Peggy! My husband has had a go at that, too and we have a piece hanging in the garden. CJ

Lilly said...

OH YOU MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD!! Sherpa Peggy!!! Arse Class!!! BlogHer is in New York next August and I am really wanting to go to it. What about it? You can go without luggage and just your lippy and a good book! I really want to go to a blogger's conference.

Your stained glass window is amazing..truly amazing.

Anonymous said...

Hee hee! I can imagine you hauling your luggage - I'm the same. I always take too much stuff. Something that does motivate me though is the endless waiting for checked in luggage at arrivals, so I try to limit myself to just a carry-on case. It takes real discipline though (!) Someone once said to me - all you need to carry is a credit card! Maybe that was the man on the flight's secret? Great if you can afford it!

I love your window - beautiful. And you say you are not artistic. Puh!

Life Potentials Network said...

Peggy, I'm new to your site and just loved the posts i've read. I had to comment on this one though as this is so me...I've gotten better over time but have also been in airports in the middle of the night and trust me...there is NOTHING open so carrying water/newspapers/paperbacks is essential for those trips! A cinnamon roll wouldn't hurt either but they don't pack too well! (grin) Like Mike said, it truly is a woman thing. My husband carries nothing and is very happy. I spend the whole trip searching through all my stuff for whatever it is I think I need in the moment!

Also loved your stained are talented! Blessings to you!