Proper packing is such a carry-on
Our cruise couture feature in last week’s T&I got me thinking about holiday wardrobes and how casually we dress. There was a time when flying was so remarkable and sophisticated that ladies wore chic hats and chaps their best suits, luggage would be a matching set of at least three sizes and porters were in abundance. Now it is not unknown for passengers to board in thongs and skimpy beachwear, especially out of Bali. You can throw unfortunate braids and henna tattoos into that mix as well. Never has an airline eye-mask been so welcome as aboard the overnighters out of Denpasar; I always put one on as soon as I find my seat, stick in the earplugs and cover my head with a shawl, Lawrence of Arabia style. That’s better.
My packing used to be quite complicated but in the past few years I’ve become weary of lugging things about so have streamlined the contents of my suitcase. The irony is that while checked-in baggage allowances have become more generous on many airlines, my luggage has shrunk. Last time I flew Emirates, I could have had 30kg worth of stuff and so felt like the most miserable of underachievers at Sydney airport when the scales indicated my bag weighed a pathetic 11kg. Nonetheless, it was packed with all I needed for a carefree fortnight away.
I keep to one colour scheme, layer my clothing and have learned that a really good pashmina can be employed as anything from an evening stole to jazz up a little black frock to an emergency blanket. As Mother always said, the people you meet travelling today will most likely not see you tomorrow so that same outfit will look new. She was a leading believer in the benefits of drip-dry clothing but let’s not mention crimplene, which is one retro look that has thankfully not circled back upon us.
Rarely do you see hatboxes in the overhead compartments on aircraft any more, except when on flights headed to Melbourne for the Cup or if there is a wedding party aboard. Regarding the latter, a brawl broke out last time I was en route to Fiji when a careless passenger bunged in his bags on top of several carefully placed chapeaux. The bride was in tears, her mother throwing punches. I would have felt sorry for the offending chap if he weren’t one of those bods who carry cabin bags bigger than your checked luggage. They board with suitcases or packs the size of coffee tables and conk people on the head and hold up boarding while finding a spot to park said luggage.
Meantime, my polite little bag sits in the hold, taking up such a minute amount of space that, really, I should get a discount. If it is a trip to sunny climes, therefore requiring a shady hat, I simply wear my panama and if a stoush breaks out or a chap with trousers at half-mast waddles past, I put it over my face, like a snoozing Mexican. I am always in wash-and-wear garments, with a pair of emergency drawstring pants in my hand luggage. Mother, now departed for celestial climes and no doubt still refusing to countenance ironing, would approve.