Ticket to buy (opinion column)

GT Magazine, March 2016

Travel clothes 3727594 small

Five books (two of them hardcovers), three magnets, a touristy cap, a pile of new clothes, a pair of heels and a gigantic jar of candied jalapeños.
I look down guilty at my purchases spread across the floor of the airbnb bedroom and wonder how to attack the packing process.
The jalapeños are probably the hardest. I move them with my toe and the sticky sweet brine sloshes around in the jar threatening to seep, as if by osmosis, through the thick glass and into every sponge-like stitch of my new vintage skirt - that can only be worn in summer, mind you.
The books are not only heavy but sizable. In fact, due to some subconscious act of self-sabotage, one of them is actually a coffee table book. I could lay them across the bottom of my backpack, I think, but that's usually where my shoes go, heel to toe like a podiatrist’s jigsaw puzzle, and I don't think I have room for both given my new stiletto purchase. I look forward to all the opportunities I'll have to wear those during a Victorian winter.
The cap doesn't take up much room, thankfully, but I'm down to the wire here and every centimetre is going count when I go to inch the bag's zipper along the protesting metal teeth which seem to repeal each other with the force of a denim jean fly post-winter. I would wear the cap but I'm not much of a cap person to be honest and besides, it doesn't really fit my head.
Bad travel purchases. We’ve all made them.
Every time I go away I give myself the same guidelines. Don’t buy anything you don’t need. Don’t buy anything that’s hard to carry home. But it’s hard to heed this advice when you come across a the sweetest old Texan lady making and jarring her very old candied jalapeños complete with hand printed labels reading ‘Grandma May’s cowgirl junky’.
It’s amazing what can seem like a good idea at the time you when you’re swept up in the dizzying pleasures of travel. Once, in Hawaii, I bought a matching frangipani flower necklace and earring set made out of shells. I know.
My mum’s favourite item to buy overseas is teacups. She collects them. The more fragile the better. She finds these ludicrously expensive dainty little fine china pieces with gold leaf detailing and delicately thin handles and prays to the gods of airline baggage that they get home safely.
Another purchase I’m continuity guilty of making is the neck pillow. You know the ones you get at the airport that are shaped like half moons? Every time I think they’re going to help me sleep and every time I find myself hurling them halfway across the plane in drowsy frustration only to buy one again the following trip.
But at the end of the day, at the end of the trip, some things are just worth the hassle and as I sat in my kitchen the other day, delighting in the sweet and spicy flavour of my candied jalapeños with a fond memory in my heart I certainly didn’t regret that particular bad travel purchase - partly because they were delicious but mostly because the lid stayed on my luggage.