I think we’re going to need a bigger…coat

I pride myself on being able to pack for any 2-3 day business trip or any holiday within the length of a television ad break. Two if it’s an overseas trip and I need to give consideration to both carry-on and checked baggage. This usually takes place the night before the trip.

Today, however, I’m giving serious thought to packing for my next trip almost a week out.

This unusual level of planning is due to a combination of needing to pack for (a) 5 days of meetings and work-related events where I’ll be seeing the same people repeatedly and therefore need multiple outfits; and (b) the opposite season when at any moment it could turn super hot here and I will not be able to even look at a pair of tights or a jumper, which will make it hard to pack them.

Really, though, it’s the season I’m heading into that requires most thought.

I’m heading to New York, a place I have been to many many times for work and pleasure, a place where packing shouldn’t matter because I can get anything I could possibly need when I get there. Except I’ve never been in February before. The first week of December is the closest to ‘not summer’ I’ve ever been in the city. The top temperature there yesterday was -6. This requires thought before I leave, not after I get there and can’t feel my feet, or my hands, or my head.

Not only have I never been to New York in winter, I’ve never really spent any time in genuinely cold climates. I went to England to see family in February when I was 14 or 15, and remember cold clear days and melting snow, but nothing in adult life. I haven’t even been into the local snow fields since I was a teenager.

I don’t hike or camp or trek. I’ve never lived in a cold climate. So while I like winter here, I have no proper cold weather gear beyond a decent pair of gloves. I have a great parka that I bought from Witchery of all places about 15 years ago that is nice and warm, but is patched and short in the waist and doesn’t have a high collar and is bulky to pack. I have some nice coats. But they’re only Melbourne coats. They’re not ‘it’s actually properly cold’ coats.

Yes, I’m going to be spending a lot of time inside at meetings and I’m staying at the same hotel as the conference, but it’s New York, so of course I’m also taking a couple of days off to do some shopping and see some friends and visit good restaurants, and I want to see New York in the winter. I’m quite looking forward to the cold given we don’t really have it here. I just want to be prepared. And have a proper jacket that can stand the cold, maybe a little snow, and cover my bum.

Which is where being in the complete opposite season is great. Sales. Major sales of winter gear. So a visit to Little Bourke Street this afternoon, into the wilds of the camping and hiking and back-packing stores in which I usually have no place or interest, delivered me a great, warm, light-weight, properly hooded men’s parka for $50.00 (down from $200.00) and two pairs of actually warm socks for the price of one, i.e. $14.99. And the best thing is that the parka folds up to the size of its hood, unlike everything else coat-like I own. See:


So it makes packing easier. Especially when I need to fit these in too:


Certainly, the forecast for next week is not as cold as it is right now. You know, maximum temperatures of -1 on the day I arrive. But at least now I’m prepared. And will possibly be looking to take many future trips into cold climates. And a beanie when I arrive.

Trip Planning

I am currently Planning my trip to India.

I never Plan my trip anywhere, really. Certainly not to the point of, three weeks out – as I am now – contemplating what to put into a medical kit.

My usual pre-overseas trip routine goes like this:

Phase One – The 2-3 Days From Idea For Trip to Fully Booked Trip

– Have idea for trip, usually around 11.30am on a weekday when my To Do List is 65 items long and my stomach is rumbling for lunch

– Spend a couple of hours on airline websites comparing flights: book flight(s).

– Spend a couple of days looking around accommodation websites (I usually book through Tablet or Octopus) with an occasional glance at a guide book if it’s somewhere I’ve never been before: book hotel(s).

– Book rental car, if required.

– Buy travel insurance.

If, of course, it is a work-organised trip I just send the PA an email with preferred flight times and all of the above is done for me.

Phase Two – Week Before Trip

– Print out all the e-Tickets and Hotel Vouchers and Meeting Agendas and a Map from Airport to Hotel if driving.

– Take out the appropriate luggage, leave it lying open in 2nd bedroom to throw things at as I think of them.

Phase Three – Night Before Trip

– Pack.

Phase Four – On Plane

– Actually read the travel guide, maybe.

This routine comes, I suppose, from a combination of being a seasoned unfussy traveler, generally traveling to first world cities, and not wanting to take the spontaneity out of everything by over-planning. I’m not, however, completely devil-may-care. I do need a pre-booked hotel, for example.

Going to India, though, I feel like I need to give it a little more thought. All the above Phases still apply, but there’s a couple of new ones, Phases One-A and One-B. Plase One-A took place a couple of weeks ago with actually having to get a visa. Although the level of detailed required (it’s a business visa) was substantial, and it cost a small fortune (not being paid for by me), it was a pretty quick process and I can no longer complain about having virtually no stamps in my new-ish passport. The thing takes up a full page.

I’m now in Phase One-B, which has me, two-three weeks out, actually reading the guidebook, a bit. Checking for power adaptor types, and knowing I’ll need to pre-organise currency instead of just going to my Foreign Currency Drawer or the ATM at the airport.

And putting together an actual travel medical kit. My usual travel kit is Sudafed, Bandaids, and anti-inflamatories for my Old Lady Foot. Who really needs more than that if you’re in Paris or Singapore or New York? Now I’m buying Gastrolyte and Imodium and contemplating strengths of antiseptic cream.

Of course, I’m not exactly going into the wilds on this trip. I have 9 days at a 5-star conference hotel in Mumbai to begin with. Airport transfers provided by the hotel. And I imagine I will be able to get virtually anything I need in that city just as I could in Hong Kong or London. But that is the work section of the trip and I’m not sure exactly how much time I’ll have (not sure mainly because those organising that part of the trip are clearly working the way I normally do and I still don’t have a semblance of an itinerary or meeting list, but, ah well, not my problem).

Then I’m taking a flight down to Goa and having 6 days in a 5-star resort in the south (a quick Google was all that was required to know not to stay in the north), from which I will explore. Or possibly just lie by the pool reading and drinking cocktails such is my level of exhaustion. I vaguely contemplated, back in Phase One, going to a couple of different places – perhaps on a boat in Kerala etc – for the holiday part of this trip, but in the end concluded that if I had to face more than one internal flight and the accompanying bag-lugging, I would come home even more tired than I am now, and that’s really not a suitable outcome. So just Goa on this trip, and if I like it, I can, of course, always go back.

Perhaps when I go back India will just be like any other trip, with no need for extra Planning of any kind. And I can always be hopeful that the travel first aid kit will be completely unneeded on this trip and therefore available to just throw into my bag in Phase Two or Three next time. That’s not too much to ask for, right? Right?