For our family’s rapidly approaching trip to California, I have set for myself the lengthy task of deciding how to pack two weeks’ worth of family travel into two moderate sized (read: teensy) backpacks. We are not a group of jetsetters that travel light. We like our colouring books, the pencils, the cards, the books, the never-ending supply of Zip loc bags containing xiao chi and the enormous, clunky 4WD suitcases with firm exteriors – all the better to protect the stash of treasures we invariably buy. My Dear Spouse (DS) will tell you I would buy snow in Antarctica. I’ll not argue that, especially if it’s an artfully carved snowball (those clever penguins).
Our trip to California with Miss 7 (M7) and Master 5 (M5) is all about them – lucky little devils – so shopping will not be on the agenda. What will be on the agenda is lots of American food on plates the size of Texas, tram rides, train rides, boat rides, bus rides, Disney rides, and a swing on the monkey-bars at every park from San Francisco to Tijuana. Another reason we won’t shop is that the Inimitable Theme Park coastal run has already pulled the plug on our bank account.
So, with this shopping deficiency and a backlog of entertaining events and facilities already in store, there is not much we need to take with us on this trip – other than jeans in two sizes (thank you, Texas-sized-meals), several pairs of walking shoes and two packets of Valium … er … Band-aids. Hence the ‘quaint backpack theory’ DS and I have intently discussed. “Won’t it be so much easier to travel light?” we said to each other, unconvincingly. “To just throw a small pack in the car and ride off into the roller-coaster-silhouetted sunset? To wash and wear and wear again?” It won’t be no fashion show, this trip. Does DS really need his running gear and do I really need a silk pashmina in six colours and silver hoops in every size?
The challenge is on, but it nonetheless leaves a lump in my throat. Being a super-organised, like-to-have-it-all-done-in-advance kind of person, can I just freewheel two weeks without the comfort of a stylish coat-change for the kids? Can I really survive seeing M5 in the same Ya Show puffy coat for two weeks while his expensive wool, grey duffle coat sits in a dark cupboard in Beijing, rotting? Can I really stand by and watch M7’s pigtails flap in the breeze of Space Mountain without a series of retro hair baubles securing them in place? Plain old rubber bands? Nooo!
Deep breath. I can do it. I can do this. And I know how: by surreptitiously concealing a large carry-all in the faux bottom of one backpack. Just in case. Then, I’ll only have the final Herculean task of convincing M5 he doesn’t need to take eleven tins of Pokemon cards with us. I’ll tell him Disneyland won’t tolerate the competition, and that should put paid to the problem.