A Pain in the Packing.

Packing, how easy it is to get carried away.

Well, with T-minus one week and three days until the off, I thought I’d better do some packing. Actually; if I’m honest, I’ve been packing since I bought the tickets way back in March. Everyone who goes on holiday always want to have new clothing. This is so when they look back at their photo album they’re not wearing the same things as they did the year before. They still may be wearing a god awful floral pattern shirt that you wouldn’t be seen dead in back home, but it will be a different one on each holiday. There are other reasons of course, like the skimpy swimming costume that fitted perfectly last year, seems to have shrunk in the drawer since you last dared to wear it. Nothing to do with the extra pies at all. Then you have the different packing habits of men and women. My sister once went on holiday to Majorca for a week with a suitcase packed with enough clothing to restock a branch of Next, and enough shoes to ensure she could wear a different pair with each step. By contrast, the last time I was on holiday with the lads, one of my friends only packed two of each item. Two pairs of shorts, two trousers, two pants etc, his reasoning being he was only there for two weeks.

Alas, I’m no different. I like to have new clothes for holidays too. Over the months I’ve been buying the odd t-shirt here, a pair of shorts there, a new camera and spare batteries in case they don’t have electricity in New Zealand. Then I realised I had to carry it all in something. What better thing than a backpack? If you stand at the baggage collection area at any airport, the people who look like they’ve had the most fun are the ones who pick up a bulging backpack. They’ve usually festooned it with stickers and tags of previous adventures, and have bronzed skin and sun bleached hair. I want to be like that! So after skipping gleefully to the camping equipment shop and buying an impressive looking backpack (a Vango Sherpa, 60litre storage, for those of you who like to know the details) I proceeded to cram my stuff in. I soon learned that a backpack is not a suitcase. You can’t fold things up and lay them flat in a backpack. Then I discovered that whilst you can shove things in at the top there is an opening at the bottom, that things could fall out of if not properly zipped. Also, I can’t fit my flippers and snorkel in, but there is some netting on the front so maybe that could help. Do I really need all these straps? Where do they go?

You may have noticed that I didn’t have a clue. After some swearing and shoving in of various much needed items, like bottles of shampoo and one or two books, I gave in. I needed help, because obviously different adventures require different kit. I’m not spending two weeks in the same resort, I’m wanting to see the whole country. I needed to be light, agile and quick on my feet to avoid being splashed by passing motorists if I chose to go hitchhiking. To the internet! I found a great site that caters for folk like myself, and lots of useful tips on how to pack a backpack, (www.backpackerboard.co.nz) including what to pack. So out go the shampoo bottles, gone are the books and now all my things are nicely ironed and rolled to save space. The flippers and snorkel are being left behind too. Basically I’ve packed for a week, and since I’m staying for four months that either means many trips to the laundrette, or staying at naturist resorts to cut down on cleaning bills.

Since I have an arse that is spottier than a teenage sales assistant, it may be a good time to invest extra washing powder. Mind you, it’s probably a better idea to buy washing powder in New Zealand. Everybody knows that Customs & Excise take a dim view to people carrying chemicals of any sort onto an aircraft, especially strange white powder in little clear bags. If it turns out that a laundrette can’t be located, I suppose I could just do what my friend did with his pants and socks when they were worn more than once. Turn them inside out, and wear them back to front. He said he could get four days out of them doing it like that. Urrrrggg..

If clothing does go a little ripe, and funds are low, there are always charity shops. These are good because a lot people, having returned home from their holiday, suddenly find they have reacquired a dress sense. They bag up all their hardly worn clothing, the hideous floral pattern shirt, the loud bermuda shorts, the trousers from last year that are just too tight -its not the pies, they shrink, honest!- and send them all to the nearest Oxfam. Or the nearest bin, but that may be a step to far and not offer as wide a selection of clothing.

Also, remember that if you are travelling to the southern hemisphere at this time of year (october – november), it is just turning to summer. This means that all the shops on the top side of the planet are changing seasons to winter, and will be selling the summer stuff off cheap! I had to be told that, me not being one for following the latest fashions in the shops.

So, hopefully some good advice there. Now everything is packed and I think I’m all sorted, I’ve just noticed that my pack is quite heavy. I don’t know how, because there’s barely anything in it, I got rid of the barbels. Maybe it would be a good idea to re-read that bit on the E-ticket about weight limits for baggage…

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About Steven R Harrison

Greetings! Thank you for having a look at my blog. On here you will find my epic adventure around New Zealand that I undertook in 2011-12, now available to buy with more pictures and in hard back entitled 'Blogs, Bikes & Jelly Beans' from Lulu.com and Amazon. Since returning to Blighty I have been writing my next novel, Attack of the Atomic Airships, which will soon be available to buy from all the usual channels. For now though, since my travelling days are 'on hold' for the time being, I hope you will enjoy some 'Flash Fiction,' that is, fiction of around 1000 words or less. The subjects are varied, but usually gravitate toward SF. The first one is called Continue? Yes / No. I hope you enjoy it!
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