On packing

You can never have too many plastic bottles... Ideally smaller then 200ml but larger than 30ml. Actually, 100ml, the limit; that's ideal. Ideal, but hard to find.
Try to buy bottles which are smaller than 200ml but larger than 30ml. Actually, 100ml, the limit; that’s ideal. Ideal, but hard to find.

Between leaving for New York on May 11 and returning from Noumea on June 22, I’ve stayed at 12 different locations.

For someone who dislikes packing this has been…yet another, learning experience.

Hence, 12 suitcase tips for the travelling journalist:

1) Pack light. By the time I got to Philadelphia, my bag was far too heavy. Tell you what – I was regretting those extra purchases as my luggage literally pulled me backwards down an escalator at the train station. I survived, obviously, but only thanks to two quick-thinking and stronger-than-me strangers

2) You won’t need that many pairs of pants in America in springtime. Black jeans are the answer to every occasion

3) Roll your clothes when packing. (More space, fewer wrinkles)

4) Pack carry-on contents with care, so when airport security staff take your satchel for bomb testing, they’ll think: “Wow, this person is very organised and probably not a felon. We should let her through.”

5) You can never have enough clear plastic snaplock bags

6) You can never have enough small plastic bottles. Particularly when you need to repackage expensive shampoo

7) Pack light because it’s not always a good idea to accept help with your suitcase, especially in the United States where you’re expected to tip. (Don’t ask me when it’s appropriate to tip – I don’t know. That’s why I never accepted help)

8) If you’re flying with carry-on only, train your upper body so you can effortlessly carry your 12kg bag so it appears to be only 7kg

9) Pack light, so you’re not one of those travellers shamefully repacking their suitcase in the check-in lounge at the airport

10) Bring a few empty shopping bags for when your sink-washed t-shirts don’t dry in time for your next flight

11) Pack light, so you don’t have to spend the last of your local currency on a backpack to carry all those books you probably should have bought as digital copies

12) Just pack light. That’s pretty much it.

Dessert storm

Until last week, I’d only experienced the best of Wellington’s weather.

Arriving from Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, – wherever I was living at the time – our capital always seemed bathed in sunshine.

And so it was when I arrived a fortnight ago, just in time to check the pulse of an allegedly dying city. Just in time to catch the last of the good weather before the storm set in.

Ah, but the next morning was frost-free, so I wore sandals to work.
(Indeed if Wellington was dead, I’d get to work five minutes earlier without the Willis Street peak-hour foot-traffic).

Activities, sites, people and places quickly filled my schedule. Wellington is a dessert I can never quite finish. As a “ghost-town” student, I found the central city overwhelmingly busy. When I wasn’t in the newsroom, I walked, everywhere, as much as possible.

Checking the pulse, you see.

On sunny afternoons I rested near the water, writing and completing assignments with ease thanks to the CBD wireless. The frenetic pace of the city centre was lulled by the presence of its harbour. The expanse of water provided breathing space and beautiful views. No doubt it’s linked to the sense of hope that pervades the city.

When it got colder, I retreated to the public library or – if there was any money in my wallet – to a nearby café.

Cafés are a delicious insight into any city’s artsy scene, don’t you think?
Wellington has more cafés per capita than any other city in New Zealand (and apparently even more than New York) – which to me was a sign of excellent health. Anyone who believes Wellington is dead can’t have been to Cuba Street on a Sunday; they’d be eating their words for brunch as they waited for a table at Floriditas.

Te Papa’s Warhol exhibition revealed that not only is Wellington alive, but she’s procreating. Audacious wee tykes dashed around the installations; their parents carefree as they admired the amphetamine-inspired exhibits. Regardless, Wellington’s capacity for culture and generally cool stuff is uplifting. Public sculptures adorn footpaths, the gardens are extensive, and even walkways (think City to Sea) are designed with creativity.

Wellingtonians themselves are living (living!) works of art in their bold attire. Designer, disco, dancer, grunge. Vintage hats, new hair. Business suits, preppy loafers, large glasses, colourful socks. Wellington’s got it all, and more.

But the streets quietened as clouds gathered and grew. The temperature dropped and wind boxed my ears as the storm began.

“If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best,” said Wellington.

Roads turned into puddles, thud, thud, thud became splash, slip, thud, but still I could feel the pulse of a living and kicking city beneath my cold, wet feet.

Oh, the irony – I forgot my wellies.




Wellington evening lights
Wellington: evening lights