Whoever said it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive surely knew a thing or two about packing lists. I live for them. I scribble them down on everything to hand - the end papers of books, napkins, the backs of receipts - and find them weeks, months later, only to scribble them out and start again. A list I wrote last week could be completely, hopelessly wrong by today. For me, the joy of travel has always been partially shrouded by the inane thrill of planning. I gather tips and recommendations, I buy a map and plot walking routes out with green pen, I email everyone I know who lives even remotely near where I am going and beg them to meet me for tea/cake/talks, and I write
tens/hundreds/thousands of packing lists, just like joan (always like joan). Writing packing lists makes me giddy. It makes me light-headed with excitement the way that, say, mundane tasks like applying for travel money cards and buying thermal underwear doesn't.
Like last time, this trip is going to be different. It's a trip to travel light on, for sure. I travelled light last year - well, light for me - and then was confronted with the horror of completely exceeding the confines of my suitcase in London (I coudn't close it for love or money, even with me and my friend sitting on the lid) that I had to buy a new suitcase from a greasy-fingered man behind Leicester Square for the price of a weeks worth of meals at Ottolenghi. Never again. Everyone laughed at me and said I brought a too-small suitcase but I knew the truth. I didn't pack truly light. But I am going to this year. This trip - to Denver and New York and Vancouver! Still taking any tips and recommendations if you have them, comment or email me - is going to be a bit of everything. A bit of work, a bit of snow, a bit of fun, a bit of new, a bit of old, a bit of all that good stuff that makes travel so intoxicating, so enthralling; that glorious mish-mash of the familiar and the foreign that makes you go, yes, I could do this, everyday for the rest of my life. I'm taking one coat (the BEST coat). I'm taking my trusty Benah pouch. I'm taking porsellis (even in New York winters I'm a slave to ballet flats. There will be boots too, don't worry). I'm taking lip balm and hand cream. And, at this stage, I'm taking one sweater. That will probably change, but oh, this sweater is a good one. Hope, grand, so grand, with a turtleneck you want to hide your face in and a long, thigh-skimming hemline and a thick, stocking-stitch knit that your mum sniffs at ('I could have knitted that for you,' I imagine her saying), from My Chameleon, where all the good, grand stuff comes from, and just begging to be taken to some proper cold weather.
Chances are by next week I will have rethought my whole 'Merica Winter 2K14 wardrobe, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't. I'm taking the sweater to Tasmania this weekend for a road test (summer in the city means 18 degrees, my dream) and I'm pretty sure that it's going to pass with flying colours. The best bit? It's so versatile and so much of a cosy, multi-tasking hero piece all you need to go with it is a few pieces of delicate jewellery and rosy lips. Packing light is going to be a cinch this time. I swear.