NZ Woman's Weekly

Kerre Woodham on suitcase packing

Almost every weekend, I travel to a town within New Zealand. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to quite a few places overseas thanks to my different jobs. And so I would have thought by now that with all my comings and goings, I would have suitcase packing down to a  ne art. And that I would have a perfect travel wardrobe – one that was comfortable, stylish and able to withstand the rigours of a 28-hour marathon trek across the world. But no.

As I prepare to leave for New York, I’m gazing into a big empty suitcase and I’m flummoxed, especially as I’m travelling from a warm climate to a cold one. When you have to pack heavy-duty items such as boots and coats, it’s important that you take the bare essentials. I would much prefer to wear a pair of boots than pack them, but I know my feet will swell up on the plane and the “cankles” will be horrendous.

There will be no way on earth – or even 26,000 feet in the air – I will be able to squeeze my swollen hooves into skintight boots after the flight from Auckland to New York. I’ll take a coat on board, so that will be some space freed up.

Space is at even more of a premium on this trip given that I’m taking a fancy-dress costume to wear when I’m standing on the sidelines of the New York Marathon cheering on our Kiwis. The costume comes complete with a foam and fabric-covered head, so as you can imagine, that will take up quite a bit of room.

Whenever I arrive at the airport, invariably flustered and terrified I’ve left my passport at home and trying to fill out my departure card while I wait in the queue, I look at elegant couples in cream chinos or jeans and crisp shirts and navy blazers, and wonder how they do it.

If I wore jeans, my spleen would be coming out my nose before we’d flown past Australia. My shirt would look like a dishrag and I bet in a navy blazer, I‘d look like a security guard, not a traveller. Then you have to bear in mind that at most international customs checkpoints you have to practically strip to your underwear before officials are convinced you mean the airline and your fellow passengers no harm. So it’s a good idea to wear clothes that don’t require belts and shoes that slip off.

But you can’t wear clothes purely for comfort, either. Movie stars might look edgy in their trackies and Ugg boots but I would look like I’d escaped from a home if I tried to rock that look on the plane. And I do envy women who are able to step off a plane, hair immaculate and makeup perfect.

My frizzy hair does not respond well to aircraft atmosphere and I often emerge after a long flight with pink eyes, blotchy skin and a line of dried drool running from my mouth to my chin, which tends to happen when I manage to find a comfortable way of sleeping in my seat. That usually involves contorting myself into an L-shape, my torso in the seat and my legs pointing the other way.

It’s wonderful being able to see the world but I think it’s fair to say that the days when people referred to the “romance of travel” are long gone.


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