Australia, Travel, United Kingdom

We’re Back in London and Luggage: the bane of my existence


When you’re packing for an international trip for 5 people its a pain in the butt to begin with.  Deciding what to take and what not to take and then managing to fit it not only into the bags but in under the weight limit can be a struggle.

At the beginning of an adventure (in our case a holiday back home to visit family and friends in Australia) packing seems kinda nice and almost exciting.  Even the most disorganised (hello me) will start throwing about ideas weeks in advance in happy anticipation of the big trip.

Those last 48 hours though can be hell:

  • last-minute packing
  • the timing of having just enough clothes left out of the bags so you’re not left nude but also don’t have piles of laundry sitting around stinking up the place for 3 weeks
  • Ironing the bastard clothing (you are staying with your mother-in-law after all so it’s not the time to be your sloppy self)
  • settling the cat in for being indoors whilst you’re away (he’s an outside cat)
  • leaving enough supplies out for the people checking on the cat (food, litter, tray liners newspaper, cleaner, garbage bags) plus emergency contact details on the fridge
  • cleaning the house so you don’t come back home to a dump
  • timing the meals and remembering to clear out the fridge so that’s not a stink pit when you return
  • …and if you’re some kind of crazy (hello me again) you might even try to finish off the shampoo, conditioner, coffee and dish washing liquid for fear of some sinister psychopath coming in and pouring acid or flavourless poison into your food/toiletries whilst you’re gone.  Yes, I’m a special kind of nut.

All in all though, it’s not so bad because you are about to go on holiday and who could hate on a bit of crazy rush when the pay off is a holiday abroad?

I’m a bit pessimistic at the best of times but even I was ridiculously excited.

I was however behind schedule as per usual and not only did I get almost no sleep the night before we left because I was still packing like a crazy lady but we almost missed our flight (oops).  We were originally taking a bus to the tube station and then the tube to Heathrow but when we missed the last train that would have gotten us there in time we called a cab (hubby was just thrilled with me, though 8 years of marriage meant he wasn’t the least bit surprised).  We had an awesomely reckless cabbie who managed the impossible and got us to check-in a mere 10 minutes before it closed.  I swear this is the problem with my penchant for being late for EVERYTHING.  It always works out in the end.  Please note though, I don’t stop.  It’s not like I mooch around for 3 hours and then try to fit 4 hours work into one.  I run around like a loon for those 4 hours but I must be doing it wrong (I get distracted from one task and start another before going back to a previous one and then skipping back forth until everything is done in the end), other people make it look so easy.  Ah well, we can’t all be good at these things otherwise the term “supermum” wouldn’t exist you need crappier versions like me hanging around to make others look good.  I’m providing a very important service to the community, honest!

Anywho!  We and our luggage made it onto the plane in the end and after two painfully long flights we eventually arrived in Brisbane.  It was pretty late at night and though I was pretty wasted (I’m a jet lag monster) we had family to immediately swarm around the kids and take them completely off our hands (hooray!).  I swear I barely saw the kids for the first three days.  We were in the same house as them, but being kids they didn’t get jet lagged at all and were up at 7:30/8:00 every morning hanging out with my mother-in-law and father-in-law.  On the first morning they were up at 6:30am ready to go to the morning markets with Pop.  It goes without saying that I was dragged out of bed that first morning grumbling at 11:00 with the promise of coffee and lots of it.

In my jet lagged stupor I had unpacked our luggage at 10pm (ish) the night we arrived at my Mother-in-law’s house.  I kinda found it cathartic clearing out those bags and putting everything neatly away.  Whatever qualms the chaos I say!  At that point I was at peace with our luggage, it provided a valuable service and now they were sitting pretty all empty in our (very large by London standards) bedroom and awaiting our next adventure.

We arrived on a Saturday night and on the following Friday we were off on another trip.  A small one this time to the Gold Coastfor a week at the beach to renew our depleted Vitamin D stores.  Naturally this involved packing the luggage again.  Only two big bags, the laptop, the kids back packs, plus two smaller bags this time but it was enough to waste one full day washing clothes, ironing (to keep up the non-sloppy façade), packing and then cleaning up the whirlwind of mess we had left in our wake over my poor mother-in-laws entire house.The week on the coast was all kinds of awesome but I’ll fill you in on that later when I’m not still groggy and incapable of locating not only the camera but a cable too (steps hurt my brain right now).

The day before we left the coast I had to repack the bags (the distaste was starting to fester) so family members could transport it back to my Mother-in-laws house for us.  We got a train back from the coast and with a week and a bit left of our holiday I was left in the awkward position when we got back of not knowing whether to unpack everything only to have to start repacking it a few days later.  It was at that point that the penis envy started to resurface.

We all know how standing to pee woos me but at that point in time it was that a) Packing was my job and b) If I deferred it to hubby he’d just chuck whatever dirty clothes would fit into the bags a day before we left and say good riddance to anything that we left behind. Oh to be man.

So another half day went down the drain with me pulling everything out of draws and bags and separating out enough clothes and toiletries for the week and packing the rest.I packed two big suitcases a week before we left Australia.  I think with that in mind we would have been just fine if not for…the dreaded storage unit.

What storage unit you say?  Why the god-awful storage unit that contained all our remaining possessions from 6 years of married life in Australia, including all the kids old toys and books.  You may recall all our furniture was sent to the dump earlier this year when our house was sold (that still makes me oh so very sad, if only someone had lied and said it went to a charity shop and someone else was now using it I’d be so much more at ease) so this was just our boxes of “stuff” stored away and costing us $215 per month to keep.

Stupidly we thought we could get the storage unit done in 2 half-arsed days.  In all I spent about 21 hours sorting things at the storage unit plus hubby’s trips to Lifeline (big charity shop) and the dump.  We then had to sort through the piles of “keep” stuff that we had to either box up to be posted to our London home or (and here’s where the luggage thing gets hairy again) try to fit it in our bags.  Oh joy of joys, being told you either had to fit something in your luggage, pay a fortunate shipping it or give it away.  On a positive note, when you are so exhausted and over digging through boxes of old stuff, covered head to toe in dirt (with probably a high cockroach poo to dust ratio) most sentimental bones in your body go walk about’s.  I’m confident if I had more time to mull it all over I’d have kept twice as much as we did.  I’d also have been a blubbering mess insisting we had to have another baby to put all these adorable baby toys, blankets and clothes to good use.  Sleep deprivation and being stinky from sweat and dusty boxes has its good points.

We unpacked, repacked boxes and disposed of so much stuff over that final week in Australia that when it came time to pack our bags I just wanted to cry.

We got there in the end (just) though we never did empty our filing cabinet.  It was planned for the day we left but with packing sea mail boxes and our luggage we never did get back to the storage unit.On the night we left it was another race to the airport with last minute washing of clothes (no ironing thank goodness) and packing though I didn’t clean a thing (sorry Mum).  With someone else around to feed us and keep us sane it wasn’t as close a call as on our way to Brisbane.  Family was around to dress the kids and feed them so we got to the airport with enough time to spare to relax for a bit before boarding the plane.

Packing to come home is never enjoyable even when you are looking forward to getting home and back into your normal routine.  You know what’s so much worse though?

Unpacking your stinking bags at the other end!

These babies are going up into the loft as soon as I’ve emptied the very last one and at this moment in time if I never had to get the bastards back out again I’d be a very happy lady.Luggage, pfft!  To be a dirty hippy/backpacker would be glorious right now!

5 thoughts on “We’re Back in London and Luggage: the bane of my existence”

  1. Sometimes you need a vacation from the vacation! I hope it was all worth it! Did you have any fun?
    I live out of the suitcase. I never unpack. I was suppose to just have a one week stay at my dads. Turned into 2 1/2. But never unpacked. Then again, I’m not worried about ironing.
    I bet if you did this more often, you’d learn what was essential and what wasn’t. It would become easier. Backpacks are wonderful!
    Hope kitty was ok. Mine was a wreck while I was gone. Husband told me he didn’t eat much and moped around.
    Glad your back! I was just thinking of you yesterday and wondering where you were!

  2. How did you pull out such a large post after such a big trip?! No way I could pull that off so I have to give you top marks!!

    So is the storage container empty now? Giving you $215/mth more disposable income? It’s crazy how much those things cost!

  3. Irene – We definitely had fun 🙂 The week on the beach was wonderful and it was awesome having hubby’s Mum who fed us all around the clock, bathed the boys and tucked them into bed every night and drove us around wherever we wanted (the woman’s a saint) Now I just have to adjust to having to do it myself again 😉

    I love the not unpacking idea. I’ll totally do that one day when I don’t have three kids in tow any more! Normally I’m all about sticking clothes in the clothes drier for a few minutes and calling it good enough (unless its a school uniform in which case I begrudgingly iron the damn thing) but had to keep up appearances whilst staying with the in-laws! The problem is I know my Mother-in-law wouldn’t have said anything mean about it, but a) she’d have been thinking bad things and b) she’d have put a smile on her face and ironed all our clothes for us and I’d have felt really awful then!

    Eddie seemed fine when we got home 🙂 He’s all over us like a rash but other then that seems the same. The ladies that came in to check on him are lovely and spent a fair bit of time snuggling with him every second day so hopefully he wasn’t too lonely. He was definitely the thing I was most eager to get home to,

    Nick – Let’s call it that stage you get to when you’re so tired some odd part of your brain kicks in and starts to function. Plus you don’t want to know how many spelling/gramatical errors there were before I spell checked it 😉

    The storage unit still has our filing cabinet and a bunch of boxes of stuff a friend might want. Sis-in-law is getting the filing cabinet when she can (and clearing it out for us…oops) and our friend will hopefully pick up his stuff asap. We have to give a months notice anyway so hopefully its all sorted in the not too distant future. It’s not a lot of money but it does add up especially when you’re not seeing any reward for the outlay of money. I’d much rather spend $215 on something frivolous!

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