• Sophie Eloise Kelly

In defence of being an 'over-packer'.

We've all been there...

You've found your flight, clicked through to the booking page and now you're being taken through all of the ridiculous extras; '£14 for legroom.' Nope. 'Add in-flight meal for £16.' Supposedly a 'sandwich' so full of additives its a mystery it doesn't have its very own radioactive 'glow'. Definitely not. 'Extra Baggage?' Ah. Now you've got me.

The amount of time I have hovered the mouse back and forth over the 'add extra bags' button, adding it to my cart before the new price of my flight causes mild palpitations and I promptly remove it. Or convincing myself 'maybe this time I can just fit everything in my hand-luggage?' - only to not buy the baggage and find the stress of packing everything into 10kg and a laptop bag enough to put me off actually going on the trip at all.

A first world problem it may be, but one that doesn't half get annoying when you're trying to enjoy yourself.

I am not someone who can travel light - and I'm fairly certain I'm not alone. I have spent many times looking on with envy at friends, colleagues and other people at the airport with their tiny compact handbags and neat miniature suitcases.

'Oh I don't need much, im only going for a week!' A week? with that? Who are you? Stuart Little?! Where have you put the 26 pairs of pants you'll need? or the extra jumpers in case there's a blizzard? Or the full size bottle of shampoo, moisturiser, extra shoes, a spare coat, 3 handbags, a sewing kit, 6 chargers and a 6 pack of cereal bars....

I have often felt quietly embarrassed about standing there with a handbag, a holdall, a laptop bag and the largest hardback suitcase from a 'set of 3' - all for a 5 day city break.

It's true though isnt it? People who pack neat and light do often have a air of superiority when faced with enormous suitcase wielding folk like myself.

How many times have you heard 'jeez have you got the kitchen sink in there as well?' as you rock up with your massive suitcase and dangling array of handbags, all while they stand there with a Stuart Little suitcase and 'functional' hand luggage.

Sometimes, it may have already started with the taxi driver, batting you away while you try and help with your colossal baggage.

'Just so you know - its a bit heavy!'

'No don't worry love I've got it!' - followed by a grunt as he almost does his back in trying to lift the case into the boot.

I did warn you...

Anyway, a few months ago I found myself booking a flight for a 3 night trip away.

Rather than the usual back and forth 'add-to-bag' uncertainty, I realised I'd had enough of believing that packing light somehow makes you a 'superior human'. It really does not.

I'm not a minimalist person - and nor will I ever be. I like chaos and colour and clutter and this really doesn't makes me any less than someone who only wears black and white and folds their socks. So with absolutely no shame, I booked luggage straight away. For 3 nights.

Of course, I probably could have squished myself into a handbag and a kids suitcase but I just didn't want to. I wanted outfit choices, to bring all my hats, all my lotions and potions, and to not have to squeeze my liquid allowance into a sandwich bag. Packing was a dream and as I was travelling alone, I very nearly dodged all the usual mockery until my Airbnb host couldn't resist upon seeing my huge bag.; 'you english girls...'

All I could do was eyeroll to myself.

The trip was great, I had everything I needed and then some, and was able to buy a whole load of ridiculous fluffy sheepskin slippers for people back home - without having to think twice about if i'd have room. Packing to go home was easy, I could literally chuck stuff in from the other side of the room - with no stressful organisational prowess required.

There is nothing superior about packing lightly. Take everything you want, let people roll their eyes and don't waste any time feeling sheepish about it. When the flights delayed and you're stuck in the airport, or the heating doesn't work in the apartment, or you arrive late and the supermarkets are closed, or someone's forgotten their toothpaste - no one will be complaining about all the cereal bars, extra jumpers and full toothpaste tubes you've packed then...

My friend on the trip had succumbed to 'hand-baggage-only' superiority and it took two of us sitting on her Stuart Little suitcase to get it to close, along with cramming extra bits into a WHSmith plastic bag in an attempt to pass it off as stuff she'd bought in the airport....

Next time she'll definitely be buying that extra bag.