Pre-Holiday Rules

Norman Parkinson  - Travel

This bank holiday just passed, Material Whirl jetted off on a fantastic hen weekend to sunny, sunny Spain with a group of six lovely hens.

I had planned to have my size-appropriate suitcase packed in advance and to rest well in the days leading up to the hen to counterbalance the indubitable sleep deprivation ahead. I envisioned a relaxed me wafting effortlessly into Gatwick's North Terminal poised and calm - the embodiment of airport-chic.

HA HA HA. I was the last in the group to arrive; running wildly from the airport terminal shuttle, apologising and slightly clammy and feeling unprepared. A schoolgirl error had been made; I had failed to apply the rather substantial experience gained from many years of holidaying.

I had forgotten my very own Pre-Holiday Rules.


Without fail, I will always...

  • End up packing the night before and until at least 1.30 am wailing 'I AM JUST SO TIRED, I CANNOT DO THIS' while hand washing three bikinis, meticulously selecting matching accessories for every single item of clothing and making mental lists out loud, such as 'morning top, top for the pool, top for post-beach cocktails, pre-dinner drinks top, emergency top' etc rather than actually filling my suitcase. All this while my long-suffering and very dear husband looks on despairingly. Or lies on the cool floor, hoping sleep will come soon.
  • Add Holiday by Madonna to my iPod track list (sometimes going berserk and adding the You Can Dance Extended Remix) and listen to this en route to the airport or at 6.30 am at home, still packing, and delirious through lack of sleep (see above point).
  • Spend a fortune on toiletries prior to the holiday, enough to warrant a possible remortgage of our house, most of which goes towards poxy rip-off miniatures. This also includes the purchase of a complete range of new sun care products in SPF50 - Moisturising Sun Protection with Insect Repellent (in both spray and lotion formats), High Protection Face Moisturiser, Sun Care Balm for Lips, Sun Care Spray for Hair, Moisturising After Sun, Hydrating Tan Optimiser - before finding a replica set on the bottom shelf of the bathroom cabinet the night before. All of this despite the fact I have not had a tan since 1984.
  • Purchase at least six vest tops with a stylish 'capsule wardrobe' in mind, even though only questionable colour choices remain as part of a 2-4-1 offer (hello, turdy brown and pallid lilac) and subsequently finding the 'Vest Top Drawer' the night before departure. All of this despite the fact I will bring them all home unworn and put them straight back in the drawer ready to forget next year.
  • Run out of room in my suitcase leaving me with no choice but to take unwanted overspill in my hand luggage. I would love to be one of those women who sail through departures with a minimally packed Michael Kors Tote and their passport always conveniently ready to display. I am not. I am the girl with a beach towel stuffed into an already full Oasis holdall, blocking access to essential travel documents, that requires re- packing every time I need to get my sodding purse out.
  • Pack enough cosmetics to make up not only my fellow holidaymakers but the entire outward bound flight, forcing the airport security staff to enquire, quite reasonably, if I am a makeup artist by trade. This includes superfluous bronzed-shimmer products and shouty new summer collections such as the must-try eyeshadow in Daisy Yellow or flattering eye pencil in Plum (it's not) even though I will wear my 'work makeup' for the duration of the holiday.
  • Obsessively check for my passport and tickets at least nine times en route to the airport, convinced I have neither or have scooped up my expired passport instead, where the photo of me resembles a pale '90s Goth who has listened to far too much teenage-angst rock music.
  • Seriously consider purchasing a new padlock at the airport, even though there are at least seven of the little buggers hidden somewhere in the house, possibly in the abyss that is the spare drawer. Or the Vest Top drawer.
  • Solemnly promise to myself that drinking before or on the aeroplane is unnecessary and, if the truth be told, uncouth. Cave in after the slightest hint of turbulence (take off) and down a complimentary Vodka and Diet Coke or three. Thus ending up absolutely legless and revealing to Billy and Francis from Jersey my entire life story, deepest secrets and recently developed fear of flying, sobbing into my beverage while they smile politely or pretend to be asleep.

Note to self for next trip: Never forget the holiday rules.