So, I’ve got a problem (‘just one’ you ask?) It’s packing. I just can’t do it. For a fairly organised person, you would think it would be easy for me to throw things in a suitcase and jump on a plane. I’ve travelled a lot. Surely it gets easier with practice? Nope. It doesn’t. I always end up, the morning of the flight, standing over an empty suitcase, the floor covered in clothes, looking bewildered (how will it all fit in?) and feeling stressed. When we are in China for work, Kimberley (Harper Bee’s fabulous production manager) sweeps into my hotel room door the morning we fly, rolls her eyes dramatically, throws my suitcase up on the bed and performs Tetris with my stuff. Amazingly, it all fits perfectly. This is her skill (as well as using highlighters and managing Chinese factories).
This February, I went on holiday. A four-week holiday over in Europe visiting family and friends. Sadly, taking a well stuffed handbag just wouldn’t do. I needed to pack… a suitcase. My partner Glyn, appreciating the problem, laid out my suitcase in our spare room in December (yes – December.) He wrote me lists, added a packing app to my phone, helped me pick out a good winter coat, went online and found me walking boots. Still, nothing went in the suitcase. Finally, with only a week before we flew out, and growing concern from Kimberley and my daughter Jess (‘has she packed yet?’, ‘get her to organise her toiletry bag’, ‘maybe her mother can help?’) Glyn stumbled on THE ANSWER. Luggage stackers. You know, those zip bags that you put stuff in, and then just stack into your suitcase. With eight brand-new luggage stackers, I leapt into packing with fervour and enthusiasm. Jeans in one stacker, jumpers in another. PJ’s and a hot water bottle in one, and socks in another – all fitting snugly, side-by-side in my suitcase. I was ready to go!
Glyn and I are home from our holiday now. We went on planes, trains and buses, in taxis, on trams, subways and boats – and packing was a breeze, each and every time (although I don’t understand why it’s always so hard to close the suitcase… Glyn had to sit on it so I could zip it up! I didn’t buy THAT much, did I?) My packing dilemma has been solved, and breaking the problem down into simple, bite-size chunks was the answer. And, it significantly reduced my stress levels. So when our Harper Bee girls tell us about issues that are just too big for them to deal with, I’m going to remind them of my luggage stackers: breaking things down into smaller pieces may just be the answer!