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Because I am rather absent minded and can never remember where I have put things when I'm in a different environment, I have simplified my packing using differently coloured plastic bags. Tights, pants, bras, make-up, hair products, etc. all go into separate bags, and then on arrival at the holiday hotel, I don't unpack the bags but just pop them into the drawers relating to the position on my body, eg tights (feet) would be in the bottom drawer and hair products (head) would be in the top drawer. (I'm assuming, of course, that the hotel has provided drawers, but, if not, do not despair, just hang the labelled carrier bags in order on the hangers in the wardrobe, or just in case hanging space is limited, take with you the plastic hooks to put over the doors). The bedside cabinet is reserved for essentials and emergencies, eg medicines, first aid, phone numbers, travel insurance, mobile phone, paper, pens, etc. Also take envelopes, already addressed, for the holiday cards you are going to send. I find that envelopes take approx. 3 days to reach this country and cards usually arrive after I have returned from holiday. (Now, if I'm beginning to sound a bit smug with all this efficiency, I'm quickly brought down to earth by remembering the initial horror I felt when after my holiday and returning from a frantic shopping expedition, I found that I had been using carrier bags boldly emblazoned with the words 'PANTS & BRAS'.)

One thing we all miss on holiday is our favourite pillow. How come the continental pillows are always so uncomfortable? Continental heads appear to be the same shape as ours, and yet the pillows appear to be designed for aliens. I have read that the Queen takes her own when travelling, and I can understand why! However, my friend has a possible solution. She buys new pillows once a year, takes the old ones on holiday, enjoys a good sleep, and then leaves the pillows there at the end of the holiday. The resulting empty space in the suitcase is filled with duty free's and gifts, etc. A word of warning here regarding the return weight of your suitcase. I noticed on our recent return from Spain, using a budget airline, that an official stood behind the check-in attendant with pad at the ready, and everyone in front of us had to pay an excess - not cheap at 7 euros per kilo. (Remember, a kilo is only approx. equal to a bag of sugar). Some had to pay an excess in the region of 40 euros. I was left wondering whether some of the holiday souvenirs were worth the 7 euros. In fact, if you are thinking of buying presents for small grandchildren, why not make it easy on yourself and buy them before you leave the UK. It saves weight and worry and the toys are of better quality in the UK. Also if you ever wonder what happens to all the souvenirs we struggle back with from holiday, then just visit the local Charity Shop or Car Boot Sale.

Now, as you struggle down from the attic with the suitcases, do spare a thought for the following. My friend's husband dutifully brought down the two suitcases and informed her that this time he was going to pack his own suitcase for the distant wedding they were attending. On the morning of the wedding they dressed in comfortable travelling clothes and placed the two suitcases in the car. They stopped at a pub just before their destination in order to change into their wedding outfits. My friend had her glamorous outfit and her husband had a suitcase full of Christmas decorations!!




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