The way to go is light on a flight
We are packing once again to take off on another adventure in Europe.
It's a good life when you can get away to another land and its culture every year, and I never forget my good fortune.
Although said good fortune has come after years, decades actually, of working and saving.
Packing is never pleasant, nor is it easy. Even though I've learnt over the years that less is always more, the more side of things always manages to find its way into the suitcase.
With airlines looking with strict eyes at the weight of your baggage these days, even a kilo over can cost you money or embarrassment.
I can't recall the number of times at airports we have been asked by a helpful check-in person to go forth and take two or three kilos of weight out of our cases if we want to check in without paying excess baggage.
Could there be anything more humiliating than unzipping your suitcase in a crowded airport, usually on the floor among the legs and bags of others, to expose your dirty laundry?
"How did all that get in there?” I have accused the husband when spotting a variety of mini soaps, shampoos, shower caps, loofahs (yes, loofahs!), bath salts and conditioners.
"Thought you might want these later,” he says to my annoyance because, like almost every other traveller these days, I long ago stopped nicking the soaps and shampoos from hotels. (Unless they are high-end brands, then anything goes.) Obviously, the husband is the lone shampoo stealer.
So, we ditch the stolen loot along with books and bits of paraphernalia we've gathered along the way and go back to the check-in to find we are still overweight.
"Just another kilo more,” the kindly clerk will say, and back down we go to the floor among the legs and cases to unzip the suitcase once again and display our dirty laundry to all the hundreds of people around us. (And Murphy's Law dictates my big bras and even bigger underpants are always on top of the case.)
I don't think we have ever approached an airline check-in confident we are below our baggage weight. It is the same for most of us I guess, the collecting of extra bits as we travel from once place to another.
As much as I cringe at my husband's propensity to take stuff when we leave hotels, there are times when it has come in very handy indeed.
Like when we arrive in a new town, a new hotel, and after our ritual exploration of the room, a jump on the bed to test mattress firmness, followed by a thorough checking of the mini bar, I always say, 'Good Lordy I could go a gin and tonic now but I'm not paying those mini bar prices.”
Without hesitation, the husband will say "I can fix that,” dive into his suitcase and come up with a few centimetres of gin he has stashed in an empty water bottle (from our last stop) and has packed carefully inside a shoe wrapped in a T-shirt.
"How ingenious,” I say, "but where's the tonic?”
"Hang on a minute,” he replies and burrows deep into his suitcase to find a can of tonic inside a sock wrapped around a swimsuit inside a jacket.
"Wonderful,” I say, "but where's the ice? And lemon?”
If he could, he would have had an ice bucket brimming with frosty cubes in there as well. And a half-cut lemon. He is a good stasher, a bit of a hoarder, and cannot bear to leave anything behind that he thinks might come in handy at the next stop. It must be his boy scout training. If only he could stash without being overweight.