Tobe Frank: One Bag Adventure

save space in your luggage

Passport? Check

Wallet? Check

Sunnies and budgie smugglers? Check

Shirt on my back? Check

Big fat book? Check

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To be frank, I have always had a lifelong dream to go on holidays with nothing more than the shirt on my back (with an accompanying pair of shorts and Sir Reginald’s of course), a couple of essentials – wallet, passport, book and sunnies – in a small rucksack, and jump on a plane bound for a tropical destination to see if I can survive for 10 days without the kitchen sink. Seriously, how much shite do you really need to sit on the beach, swim, eat, drink and sleep?

So a few weeks ago when the opportunity arose to take said trip to a tropical island, I though right…here’s my chance: I can literally pack as the cab pulls into the driveway. The missus just rolled her eyes at my seemingly idiotic experiment and mouthed off some sarcastic dribble that it would end in tears. This did nothing but steel my resolve to come home with little more than what I left with. Of course whilst calling me a dimwit on one hand, the other hand was frantically packing a second suitcase seeing that I wasn’t making use of our baggage allowance.

The beauty of this experiment is the simplicity of the experience. From the taxi (no need for me to use the trunk, although the missus needed the cab driver to be an expert level Tetris operative), the airport (where I dodged baggage check leaving the missus to pick a fight with the self-check machines that were telling her the colour of the luggage was incorrect), the security scan (no scissors, aerosols, computers, metal objects or otherwise), to boarding the flight (where I didn’t have to go all ninja with the overhead locker as my rucksack actually fit under the seat in front). It was pure bliss. Why had I waited so long before trying this?

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At the other end of the flight, my pre-flight routine was played out in reverse. At the resort, I had hit the azure blue waters before the missus had even found the keys for her pad locks. The resort supplied the beach towels and fresh ones beside the pool. The bar was one of those you could swim up to so no additional attire was needed here, nor was there a need for my wallet as everything went on to the room account. Brilliant. This was working out beautifully.

The missus finally joined me beside the pool, having worked up a significant sweat unpacking her 15 outfits for 10 nights. Funny though, she was carrying a wry grin…one of those ones that I have come to realise means she knows something that I don’t and that she’s not likely to be forthcoming with essential information before the opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ has passed.

I took another sip of my piña colada and dismissed further thoughts of her knowing gaze. The rest of the first day went swimmingly…that was until I was getting ready for bed. In my haste to get in the cab, I had totally forgotten to pack utensils for cleaning one’s teeth. My meal had consisted of a spinach curry, washed down with a bottle of red, so my teeth were cultivating more fur than a seal colony on the Galapagos Islands. I had to brush. The missus snickered and went to bed, leaving me to don a bathrobe and head down to the hotel store for supplies.

The next few days played out much like the first. The only noticeable difference being that as the days worn on, we seemed to enjoy more and more space to ourselves around the pool, on the beach and even at the restaurant. I guess when you wear the same outfit day in day out, night in night out, other guests can be excused for thinking you might be a homeless bum who won the trip in a competition. I’m not sure what they thought of the missus though (and why she’d be hanging out with me), as she worked her way through five outfits a day. Maybe I was her charity case?

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Day 5 started much like the rest, only that by evening the clouds had come in bringing with it some unseasonably cold weather. I hurried the missus through dinner, given that my goosebumps were starting to look more like a case of the hives than a mild chill, and headed back to the room via the hotel store at reception for supplies…this time a souvenir sweater.

Later that evening I woke with a case of stomach cramps that had me doubled over like a cardboard box in a refuse truck. It wasn’t long before things escalated with my upper and lower intestines pulling the ejector handle. The next 12 hours were spent fading in and out of consciousness due to high levels of ‘natural’ gas that were accumulating in the rafters. The end was coming – of that I was sure – and the tears the missus alluded to pre-departure, were flowing like hot lava. She took pity on me and made a sympathetic trip to the hotel store for more supplies – Imodium and hydrates.

Once sufficiently blocked up, I headed back, you guessed it, to the hotel store for supplies – new threads. The ones I had been wearing through my bout of gastric evacuation had enough gas lined in the stitching to power a small African nation. They made a nice bonfire for the missus and I to warm up on later as we took a stroll around the island.

By the time we headed home, I was begging the missus for a spatial allocation in her emergency suitcase. I had accumulated toiletries, a sweater, two new outfits, five emergency pairs of grundies, another book and enough pharmaceuticals to ensure I would be cavity searched on my way back through customs.

Little did I know that while I had been a passenger on the porcelain bus, the missus had spent some quality time blitzing the local markets. She had exhausted any remaining space in the second bag and had bought and stuffed a large duffle bag full of souvenirs for the grandchildren. The airline had a field day charging us by the kilo for the excess baggage which I’m sure cost us fourfold more than the crap inside the bag.

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Oh well…I gave it a go. With a few more minutes allocated to the packing strategy, a slightly larger bad and a lot more luck with not only the weather but the dodginess of the vindaloo and I reckon I would’ve been OK.

Either that or if I had been a Bond girl, no one would have cared less if I got around the resort in a bikini and sarong for a week.


Have you ever been on a trip where you packed lightly? Was it a failure or a success?