How losing my luggage (with 500 of swimsuits and 12 pairs of shoes) made my holiday!

How losing my luggage (with 500 of swimsuits and 12 pairs of shoes) made my holiday!

|

UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 25 July 2012

Bargain buys: Linda Kelsey holiday snaps her replacement clothes

Bargain buys: Linda Kelsey holiday snaps her replacement clothes

Had ANYONE told me a month ago that losing my holiday luggage would be the most liberating thing that’s happened to me since I first discovered feminism back in the Seventies, I would have laughed.

For me, a holiday without the security blanket of my considerable wardrobe and sundry equipment would have seemed no holiday at all.

Certainly, the idea that luggage could be baggage of the emotional kind had never occurred to me.

My holiday only truly begins when I spot my sludge-coloured suitcase gliding towards me on the carousel. It may be only distinguishable from every other suitcase by the purple paisley ribbon tied to its handle, but it’s nonetheless my sludge-coloured suitcase, with contents lovingly purchased, sorted and packed by me.

The knowledge that not only have I landed safely (I’m a nervous flyer) but that my 20-plus kg of essential kit — from hairdryer to 12 pairs of shoes ranging from flips-flops to trainers to wedges — has arrived with me, means I can start to relax and forget about everything other than having fun (and deciding what to wear).

And, yet, I’m always aware of that edgy quality to the atmosphere in the arrivals hall, a sense that it’s all about to go horribly wrong as 150 pairs of passengers’ eyes glue themselves nervously to the carousel, waiting for their case to materialise.

Three weeks ago, at the beginning of my summer break, when I realised I had been watching the same three suitcases going around again and again for a good 20 minutes, and that all my fellow passengers had disappeared, I was forced to acknowledge that my worst holiday nightmare — lost luggage being far more traumatic in my book than delays or even cancelled flights — had come true.

I may have landed in Malaga, Spain, but my luggage was probably sitting unclaimed in Tenerife or Tel Aviv, or was even, perhaps, being unpacked by some other woman in St Tropez. /07/25/article-2179030-12E86A72000005DC-714_634x384.jpg” width=”634″ height=”384″ alt=”Goodbye suitcase: Linda has FINALLY managed to get on board with traveling light” class=”blkBorder” />

Goodbye suitcase: Linda has FINALLY managed to get on board with traveling light

As it happens, every day in southern Spain is market day, although the market moves from area to area in the vicinity according to the day of the week. The day after our arrival was a Thursday, and I knew it was market day in bustling San Pedro, our nearest town.

The first essential was a swimsuit to replace the 160 Jets number in gorgeous blue that I’d bought at Selfridges a fortnight earlier — incidentally, the most expensive swimwear I’d ever purchased.

This time, I snapped up, for €10, a strapless number in turquoise. It was a workable substitute, and I was even able to try it on behind a make-shift curtain at the back of the stall to make sure it fitted.
There were five swimsuits sitting in my missing suitcase, totalling at least 500 in value but, now, one would have to do.

Next up, a strapless maxi-dress with built-in bra (three strapless bras loitering in my luggage no longer required, plus, I’m mortified to admit, ten dresses, three brand new and unworn).

Another €10 for the maxi, bartered down from €12. A chic beach bag, €8, and an evening bag, a designer copy, but I don’t know which designer, €12 (on one stall they announced it was Gucci; at the next it had morphed into Prada!).

But my best bargain was a pair of classy leather-strapped high wedge sandals, €8. Bound to kill my feet, I thought, but it turns out they’re more comfortable — and just as good-looking — as my one pair of Miu-Mius, cost best not to ask.

Two rectangles of jersey fabric with a round hole cut into them, €4 each. In turquoise, wrapped one way, the perfect going-out dress. In lime, wrapped another, the ideal beach cover-up.

A trilby — height of fashion, very Elle Macpherson, €7. Harem pants in a trendy print, €10 and a white vest top with lace back, another €10. Flip-flops — one black pair, one blue, €6 for the two. Dangly earrings, €6 — SORTED!

Altogether, I has spend €95, €5 under budget — enough left to pay for breakfast! Every night I rinsed my one swimsuit and re-wore it the next day. Certainly no one at the pool started pointing or muttering behind their hands when I passed.

In the evenings, I wore the trousers one night, the short dress the next, the maxi the one after, and then back to the trousers. I felt lighter, unburdened and my partner loved the fact I could be ready to go out in five minutes flat. I realised that all those clothes I usually packed represented not just the fun of dressing up but my anxieties as well.

My worries about not looking good enough, concern about what the people (to whom I’m in any case invisible) might think, the mad modern notion that choice is our democratic right and that more choice is always better.

The only thing I really can say I missed was my jewellery. On the tenth day, my luggage arrived by courier. I looked inside and asked myself: ‘What’s the point’

I was tempted to leave it all unpacked, apart from the hairdryer (I’d made do by borrowing one from my neighbour in the apartment next door), but it seemed such a waste of all my lovely things not to use them.

But, the truth is, I unpacked my suitcase with a heavy heart. Yes, there’s pleasure in dressing up in something different every night, and going down to the beach in snazzy new swimsuits, but travelling light, and learning to look good on a budget, had so much more than compensated for the lack of wardrobe variety.

My friend Mini, who has a walk-in closet the size of a small flat, commiserated as though I’d been bereaved when she heard my news.

‘I never travel without a back-up bag,’ she explained. ‘It contains a sarong, swimsuit, hairdryer, knickers, sandals, jewellery, trousers, top and enough cosmetics in small-sized versions for three days.’

In future, I told her, I’d take a just-in case bag, too, because it makes sense to carry certain essentials on board with you. But the difference is that my back-up case will be my only bag.
After 60 years of being a beast of burden, I’ve finally learnt to travel light, and it feels great.