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March 27, 2016

A Frequent Flyer Tells You How To Travel Light

Text by Nisha Jhangiani

Why the art of luggage management is a true challenge…

A colleague recently posed a question to me, one that I encounter on a weekly basis every October through March. “How do I pack for this two-day destination wedding I’ve got coming up? Should I just take a dozen options and figure it out when I get there? Should I just RSVP my regrets and save myself from packing paranoia?”

I shook my head with infinite wisdom, even as I considered this often-repeated, common woe. I have to admit, it is excruciatingly difficult to limit the pairs of shoes you may need for functions that can veer from a mehndi lunch and puja-by-the-beach to a sangeet/cocktail party/top-50-item-numbers-dance-competition and red-carpet-styled reception. From mojris and slip-on sandals to acrobat-worthy block heels and finally skinny stilettos, that’s a few kilos worth of baggage space usurped already.

The List is the reason why I don’t suffer from pre-travel jitters anymore. It’s the armour that protects me from never having to be stranded without face cleanser or my thread-and-needle earrings on any trip. It also simultaneously ensures that I don’t have more than what I need and, more importantly, save a suitcase slot for a bout of shopping. The List is actually an amalgamation of two lists — the first, a perennial numbering of must-carry items that go everywhere I go; the second, an occasion-specific breakdown of looks and add-ons.

Basics like three cases of toiletries (this moves up to four when essentials like citronella balm and beach-hair spray-on conditioner are needed), books, headphones, chargers, medicines, mini steam iron, tweezers, scissors, pashmina stole, double-sided tape and lint brush stay constant on The List. Make-up kits inflate or deflate depending on the event I’m gathering air miles for; compact, blush, mascara and lip balm more than suffice for sun, sand and spa while weddings or fashion weeks call for a small brigade of make-up brushes, smoky-eye palettes and a selection of reds for that impactful pout.

List number two is where the real work begins. It starts with pen and paper (for the old-fashioned, like me) and an itinerary. For the above-mentioned wedding, a pre-pleated net sari makes the cut, crease-free as it will prove to be. A mulmul and gota lehnga with an unassuming white vest or a tiny choli and a versatile dupatta that goes with everything caps the list.

When it’s Goa or Bali, I can switch to a couple of bikinis and sarongs, that same silk kurta with a statement chain-link belt, a few long and short cotton dresses, camisoles and jersey wrap pants. The only outsider in this melange would be a pair of jeans and a shirt ­— travel gear.

And what about all those shoes, persists my colleague — what do we pick and what do we discard? Now that’s a code I haven’t cracked….

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