The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour, Part One 

a partially packed bag
Packing in an orderly fashion

The Stress Of Packing

Making a list, checking it twice…

So it is when I travel overseas. Once I am sure that everything is on the list, only then do I pack. As each item, or group of items goes in, they get ticked off the list.

It’s a habit I started when I first travelled overseas some years ago. There is something calming (to me) about the routine of the list, the checking, and the subsequent surety of knowing that you have enough of the great shampoo you spent months finding to last for the whole trip.

And anyway, those hotel shampoos are dreadful, heaven forbid having to buy some when you cannot read the local language, or you don’t like the thought of Sodium whatcha-ma-call-it being the first ingredient on the list of contents.

For years I worked off the same tried and true list, written before my first trip to the US for work in 1995. Rediscovered, dog-eared and faded, I only recently threw it out. It seemed a shame, one list, so many trips. I’m over the need to do that, I thought, yet here I am again with a list.

In my mind the list is freedom. I can get on with enjoying the trip knowing that whenever I need something it’ll be there in my bag. For shorter trips within New Zealand I still tell myself it doesn’t matter – if I forget something I can do without, or buy it.

Overseas is another matter. I can easily tolerate ‘some toothpaste please’, at a 7/11 in Auckland. Standing in line in a negozio, asking in badly accented formal Italian ‘vorrei ike comprare il dentifricio’ is an avoidable experience, and one I prefer to avoid.

The packing will be complete tonight, and then it’ll be time to re-check all the travel documents. Don’t forget the passport, the plane tickets, the train tickets, the contact details for the accomodation. Make copies of everything. For someone who likes predictability, it is insurance.

Now I can get on and enjoy the trip. I have allowed for spontaneity.


We leave on Friday, and over the coming weeks I hope to document our Grand Tour as we track up through Italy from Rome to Venice, then across to Zoagli, around to the south of France, then Barcelona, and finally up to Paris.

2 thoughts on “The Grand Tour, Part One 

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