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Pack Like a Pro

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I'm off on tour to New Zealand with my show Fatal Distraction for three-weeks, yes I know, lucky me. Before that I've got a few days in LA doing some filming, again, lucky me. You might think that, but actually I'm not so lucky, as I have got to pack, and like most humans. I. HATE. PACKING.

There is nothing less fun than working out what to stick in a suitcase, however the science of it and of what people take with them abroad fascinates me. I love watching those border control TV shows where they show what's in peoples cases. What's that? She's brought 700 cockroaches in her hand-luggage. Brilliant. I just had a book in mine.

One of my favourite past-times in an airport is to simply observe people, partly to increase my mind-reader who can't read-minds skills, but partly to try guess what is in their case. I love trying to match people to their luggage on the carousal at the end of a flight, and I love looking at peoples hand luggage and trying to work out what is inside it in my mind... in-fact, there's an idea for a new trick. Imagine if someone came on stage, with their bag full of stuff, and I worked out exactly what was in it. That'd be good wouldn't it? Anyway I'm getting sidetracked.. which is what I always do when packing, I sidetrack myself until its the last minute and then I just need to chuck everything into my case.

There's a fine line in packing between what you really need, what you want to show off, and what you think you might need so should take just incase, or in your case. You should, in theory under pack, in most places we visit we can get what we need, and it's always nice to bring back a jumper with a city skyline on it because you didn't pack yours as you thought it would be warm but it wasn't. Isn't it? It's slightly harder when you're having to not just pack your clothes but also enough props for all your shows and other bits that you might need, you know just in case. Shoes are always a problem. How many do you need? Why do they take up so much room. What about hangers, do we need hangers? Will there be enough hangers there? Should I make a pile of clothes on the bed then put them in the case, or just throw it all in? What about entertainment? I get bored I need stuff to occupy my mind. How much can I fit in my hand luggage, how heavy can the suitcase be? It's all just a faff isn't it?

However I've found a great source of inspiration, a cool photo project called I Am Packed. The idea is simple, photos are taken of all the items in someones bag, laid out neatly for all to see. It's a fascinating idea, giving the nosy neighbour in us a chance to see what other people pack, giving us ideas of what we could take, and offering a glimpse into the life of various travellers.

I love that someone has put heat-packs in their bag... they probably use them for sport, I'm thinking on taking some to put on during the flight to keep my back relaxed. I'm amazed how many people are still taking lots of books, surely digital devices save room and weight... although are less beach-friendly. Most people only take two pairs of shoes... so my packing of six seems a bit much, and entertainment is covered with noise cancelling headphones and laptops full of films. I Am Packed has got me thinking more and more about what I really need, and I've come to a conclusion.

Last time I flew with the amazing Air New Zealand and they had so much entertainment on board, and noise canceling headphones, that my hand luggage now has room for things other than those, so here's the new plan. Two cases, one full of magical show stuff and my show clothes, then a smaller case for me, three of my favourite outfits, which can be mixed and matched to nine different outfits, two pairs of shoes, a couple of tees, underwear and an extra pair of jeans and some shorts (just incase it's nice.) and that's it. Apart from some hand luggage with a book, eye mask, magazine and my mac, leaving myself some room to bring things I buy back with me. That's all I'm taking. I think I need more, but I'm trusting the wisdom of others on that site, and I'm pretty sure I'll be fine. Also it'll be nice to not have a bad shoulder and back from dragging a way too heavy case around airports.

I want to fit it all into a small case, so I'm going to let you in on a quick tip, bundling. A comedian friend of mine showed me this technique, where you bundle everything into your case, it works a treat and avoiding creases (as you don't fold.) Here's how to do it. You need to start off with a central object, that you'll wrap everything round. I use my toiletry bag. Then you just have to wrap your items in this order, so on a flat surface put them down one on top of each other (you wrap at the end.)

1. Jackets, lie them flat, face down, make sure they are buttoned up
2. Skirts/Dresses, put these and everything else on this list face up, alternate the directions of them
3. Long sleeve shirts, buttoned up, also face up and again change the direction each time to keep the thickness of the pile even.
4. Short-sleeve shirts, as above
5. Trousers & jeans
6. Jumpers
7. Shorts

Then it comes to bundling (which isn't jumping on top of a pile of people in the playground at school.) Put your central item on the top of all the clothes, and piece by piece wrap them around it, as tightly as you can. Wrap the sleeves of shirts round it but the sleeves of jackets across it to avoid creases, the tighter your wrap the less winkles you'll get. Once you're big bundle is done pop it in your bag and you can consider yourself packed. Job done.

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