Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pink Deer's Guide to Travel: the art of packing

 When I started writing this post I was sitting in Heathrow Terminal 5 enjoying a long awaited Pret (Ranked #2 in my food chains that I've missed over the last year. EAT is #1. COME ON terminal 5), drinking coffee and pretending that I was not already jet lagged out of my overly sarcastic mind. Having spent the best part of the previous 30 hours sitting on my butt in a tracksuit with no makeup on, it was important to make myself a little bit more glamorous for Terminal 5. This isn't coach travel people, this is British Airways. Of course, by glamorous I mean adhering to basic hygiene and wearing something that doesn't resemble pyjamas...because pretty much anything feels glamorous after you've slept in your clothes next to total strangers. 

After a long flight you want people (other travelers, but also critically immigration) to believe you’re still totally in control of your faculties and not completely crippled from dragging your luggage through 4 different airports. You know what I’m talking about. You’re so completely shattered you feel like you’ve been at a party at Charlie Sheen’s house for the last 72 hours, then you see all these people swanning off the plane looking like Victoria Beckham. 

Fear not, it's all an illusion. Unless they're a robot, they are not well rested, they are not clean and they did not love every minute of that 13 hour flight. They're liars, or as you will soon discover, magicians...Since my alter ego (AKA the person I pretend to be when I meet drunks in bars) is a magician's assistant, I am well placed to introduce you to the enchanting world of Travel Illusion. In today's installment, we'll be exploring the art of packing. More specifically getting away with exceeding your baggage limit. Stick with me, and you’ll be the Mary freakin Poppins of economy air travel.

The tall tale- Risk factor: at home eyebrow bleaching levels of high. I mean, unless you're a nun or a trained Thespian (yes, that includes me) I wouldn’t try it. I have gotten a few extra kilos by explaining to the check in staff that I'm moving to a different country (actually true both times), but when it's $100 for every extra kilo I prefer not to take the chance. You might give a Meryl Streep quality performance, but the person has probably heard it all a million times before and frankly, they don’t give a shit.

Travel with someone who packs light- Risk factor: none. I love these people. There aren't enough of them in the world. When you tell me you only need one pair of shorts for a month long trip, it's like I’m seeing God. I'm gonna use your remaining 20kg for my shoes. I won’t even have to drag it around. Thanks buddy.

The old switch-a-roo- Risk factor: medium-high (depending on how long you’ve got between flights). Get your luggage back when you change flights and switch the contents. Wear your heaviest shoes for your first domestic flight, then change into flats for the international with a bigger check-in allowance. It doesn't matter if you're going to a tropical destination, if you're running out of space you are going to have to wear 3 jackets and look like you need them. There is a lot of leg work involved in this one and generally by the end you are thinking 'I should have just paid the extra money'. On a positive note, other travelers will think you're super chic thanks to all the costume changes.

Now you see it, now you don't- Risk factor: high. The luggage equivalent of that ball and cup thing you see New York street scamsters pulling on folding tables in the movies. Kev and I did this when we moved to England. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you we had 6 pieces of hand luggage (limit 2) weighing in at over 35kg (limit 14kg). Most effective when done in pairs, you will be moving the luggage around with the intent of leaving the staff bewildered about who it actually belongs to. Firstly your Mum is gonna hold some of your carry on while you check in with the smallest item to be displayed and weighed. Then when you transfer to your next flight, you're going to make it seem like you either do not know each other, again taking only 1 item to the desk while your partner looks after the rest, OR you just leave the luggage slightly closer to a person beside you, so it looks like THEIR luggage. Same deniability can be attempted at the security screening point. High risk of theft or possible arrest with this one, but if you pull it off, you will feel like OCEAN'S ELEVEN. No joke. 

Fake it to make it- Risk factor: low to medium. This is my preferred method and it's one I've been perfecting over many years. This is where your hand luggage is significantly heavier than you are letting on. I've been doing my Tracy Anderson lately and the tickets to my gun show have gone from me paying you $5 to attend, to you giving me a hand full of loose change you found in the ashtray of your car. They are looking GOOD.

You’re going to restrict your hand luggage to small, but heavy items. It should look like it's just got a few bits in it, maybe a spare jumper, a magazine, a small digital camera, but in actual fact it has 10kg worth of jewellery and a 20cm tall solid bronze statue of Ryan Gosling. The key here is lifting it like it weighs nothing. Emulate the gals from The Craft (over the knee socks included) and internally chant 'Light as a feather, stiff as a board'. I once had 27kg of carry on (don’t even ask me how I got away with that one) that almost killed a small child because his father thought I was telling him it was ‘girl’ heavy. I made it look that easy. Important to factor a good strong remedial massage into your budget, because by the conclusion of your travels your muscles are going to be tighter than a Kanye/Jay Z collaboration.

Once you've chosen your method of deception, the only thing left to do is find somebody to pick you up from the airport. A strong person with no prior back injuries. 

In the next installment of Pink Deer's Guide to Travel, we will explore Beauty Illusions- how to emerge from the vacuum sealed dehydration tube without looking like mummified remains. 
Image via Elle Poland

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