As a travel journalist, people expect me to be good at travelling light… I wish!
I’ve written features about the theory of packing the perfect (lightweight) suitcase, but it’s always easier to give advice than take it, so when it comes to choosing a holiday wardrobe, I really struggle.
I’m in awe of light-travelling friends and colleagues, like Alyson, of top style-at-any-age blog That’s Not My Age and award-winning travel writer and photographer Jan Fuscoe, both of whom I’ve been away with. And they seem to manage with less than me.
But for me, it’s always about weather and what-if’s. It could start raining. What if I get sunburn? In the mornings it’s chilly there. And up the mountains. What if I spill that local delicacy down my only smart top? There’s a stiff breeze off the sea. What if I want to go cycling? Or running? It’s incredibly humid in the afternoons. What if I sweat so much I can’t wear the go-with-everything garment more than once?
The packing issue is pressing because I’m off to India soon, and have two climate zones to contend with, and a smaller-than-usual baggage allowance. Although the airline I arrive with has the usual limit, I’ve got several internal flights, and Air India’s is 15kg.
In Delhi, the start of the trip, it’s about 23°C by day, dropping to 7°C overnight, and in Kerala, end of the trip, it’s 36° by day, dropping to 22°C overnight. And, of course, I need to keep my shoulders and knees covered!
Clothes-wise, I seem to be going for trousers and tops. Lots of tops, so that I can layer as many as I need.
And my Rab jacket from Cotswold Outdoor that kept me cosy in Finland’s Arctic Circle (at -33°C) last year. That might seem too warm to take to India but it weighs practically nothing, I may wear it over just a T-shirt, it squishes up really small, and I can wear it to and from Gatwick.
I’m not buying anything new, except the Teva sandals (above), which I plan to wear with everything, all day long. And I’ll take flip flops (slippers, change of footwear), barefoot trainers and possibly lightweight pointed flat pumps for dressing up.
And if anyone knows where to buy the perfect all-purpose shoes that work for hours of pavement-pounding sightseeing, look equally good with shorts and smart dresses, can go for a hike or a paddle and are comfortable enough to wear around the clock, let me know. They don’t exist. Last year I took eight pairs of shoes narrowboating. And wore them all.
Wish me luck!