In case

There’s an unwritten code that pyjamas are the first things to be packed into a suitcase. No matter how hip the destination, you know you’ll definitely be sleeping. In they go, with the good intentions of anything packed early. They are laid out with precision, taking care not to fold them too much so they won’t hog excess space.

They are generally followed by underwear, which is always an easy choice. For a seven night trip, bring fourteen pairs of knickers and a handful of bras in assorted colours. Socks are dictated by the climate, if it’s going to be sandally weather, then just about five pairs are needed (for when the gym gets hit) because you will be pedi-commando for the duration. But if it’s an Irishy climate, then lob in fourteen pairs too. Better safe than sockless.

Tops have to go next, they’re another uncomplicated choice and they slot in well in lovely easy layers. These are followed by dresses. A double fold of each and the case starts to fill up. Gym gear gets thrown in at this point – just a few sets, there’s no need to be overly ambitious about how many times the treadmill will be visited in the week, but enough so that the same gear won’t have to be worn more than once.

And now the real work starts. The chunky pile of trousers, jeans, footwear, hair straightener and toiletries that sits menacingly beside the case. The shoes alone could fill it. It’s time for revisions. Three pairs of good ‘spares’ are case aside. They’re the ‘just in case’ shoes that get brought on the off chance that your favourites fail you. The favourites will have to do. There can be no substitutes. Space is at a premium.

The mound of toiletries is examined and potions and lotions are dispensed into miniature travel sized bottles. It’s then time to examine trousers and jeans. If you wear jeans to the airport, that’ll save you case space, and bingo, that’s half your ‘airport outfit’ picked already! Would one pair extra be enough? Or would two pairs of trousers be a better option? Trousers are lighter. Although, if it’s as sunny as forecast, no will trousers be worn. You’ll wear the jeans and squeeze in one pair of trousers (just in case).

Am I forgetting anything? Chargers, chargers, chargers! Laptop, phone, other electrical device that you are not admitting to packing but it also needs a charger. Spread the tangle of wires across the top of your case, then slide the hair straightener in along the side. At this point, you’ll re-check the hotel website to make doubly sure they supply hair driers, and sigh with relief when they confirm that they do. There is no room for a hair drier, much less a hair, in your case. Damn, runners still have to go in. And a cardigan. What about a light jacket? A spare handbag? Books? Adaptor plugs. No matter how well you plan, you’ll always find something else needed ‘in case’.