There is no escaping it. Your to-do list for when you get home from your big fat holiday
You know, there is something about packing and unpacking that reminds me of successful first dates: the undressing packs in thrill, and haste, and it holds all the anticipation and excitement the evening has led up to until that point. The dressing up afterwards, right before the walk of shame, is a lot less celebratory affair. Packing for and unpacking after a vacation have much the same psychological build-up and are quite similar to first dates, save for the heavy carbon-footprint and a tawdry souvenir which now comes to rest on your TV console.
The packing bit needs no addressing: you know what you want to take along and how and where to put it but know that no matter how frequently you travel or how diligently you pack, there will always be some things you forget to take with you and, at the same time, objects that you find in your luggage that you will have no use for during the entire sojourn. I have come to accept this imbalance as the yin-yang of vacation woes and learnt to embrace it. What I still have trouble with is dealing with people who don’t unpack the minute they are back home.
I am the model traveller (also prospective partner) for even before the Uber guy has rated me as a passenger, my suitcases are open, and toiletries have been returned to their respective place sink-side, the shoes are put away and the laundry, already bagged. Yes, I am a nitpicking neat freak when it comes to unpacking. In most other ways, my achievements aren’t remotely as worthy of discussion.
So, here are a few tricks to putting the “f’un” into “f’unpacking”… nope, didn’t work, right.
1. Start big: Like with businesses no matter how doomed to fail, get the big stuff out of the way first. Put away the things which are bulky or voluminous. Why? Because it will take fewer trips to get a significant percentage unpacking done this way.
2. Fragile first: Nothing worse than having to lug back cheap, ugly holiday knick-knacks for friends and family and then to see them crash or crack under your feet while you are trying to navigate yourself to the toilet through the dark one midnight. Definitely wakes you up. Which is why it is a good thing to put all breakables at shelf level, a table or even the night stand, as long as it is away from damage.
3. Liquor first: This is not a contradiction; all liquor is fragile! It is also way more precious and useful than anything else you lugged back. Unless, of course, your Craigslist contact came through and you did manage to smuggle in those tiger-skins and shark-fins, in which case, you sir are despicable but still, get them contrabands to safety first.
4. Laundry next: Once you have taken the above-mentioned stuff away, an easy 10 days may have passed since you have been back from your trip. Time then to dump away your used clothes into some sort of a laundry receptacle, you will find the room smells a lot less pungent and swamp-like. This happens every single time, like some magic. But who are we to question the mysterious ways of the Gods of Dirty Linen and their preferred offerings.
5. Small stuff sweat: Now, we are well into the second fortnight of unpacking and one can start putting away the smaller accoutrements. If you didn’t carry any, then you are not the traveller but the porter. The privileged travel with two to three shoes and enough accessories to set up shop in a new country.
6. Hotel takeaways: At this point, all your suitcase contains are towels, toiletries, bathrobes, maybe a bedside lamp, and anything else that the hotel offered up as guest amenities. If you used it once, it entitles you to unplug it and bring it home! Start putting away this stuff now; see where it all fits in. Don’t leave it in your guest room for when they flick it, you won’t quite be able to point a finger at them.
7. Luggage: The good thing about taking your time with unpacking is that you never need to put your suitcase away because by the time you get around to it, the next trip is already nigh. See, this wasn’t as bad. I bet you have had a lot worse luck with first dates!
This column is for anyone who gives
an existential toss.