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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Packing Pains



PackingI am TIRED! Physically exhausted is putting it very mildly. I’m in this race against the clock just so I can put this up before the title “morning” becomes redundant. For the past 10 days I’ve been part of the hosted media by South Africa Tourism for the Tourism Indaba 2013 in Durban, South Africa.

It was an activity-packed trip and every evening as I plonked into my hotel bed, I’d just want to sleep. On Saturday, we were at the MTV Base All-Stars party with Snoop Lion, DBanj, Flavour, Professor, 2Baba and Zakes Bantwini. As we were partying into the night, I had to remind myself that we were scheduled to be at the airport early to catch the flight to Johannesburg for onward transmission to Lagos. That gentle reminder was also because I hadn’t packed my things. I HATE packing. It’s so difficult to pack for a trip. Just before I left, I had read about the INDABA and found out that there was a lot of walking around to be done; in fact, prospective delegates were advised to wear comfortable clothing. “Smart casual”. Those words filled me with dread and I’ll tell you why.

You see, I’m the whole of 5 ft and for some reason, my confidence is boosted when I have my size 5 feet safely ensconced in at least 4 inches of heels. Anything less than that then I’m probably with really close friends or family. So here I was, going to be in public, and I had to wear “comfortable shoes”. Then there was the issue of the post-INDABA events which had been planned, how would I figure out what to pack and what to leave out?
I hate packing. There’s this fear that you’ll leave something behind or that you’d over pack and be stuck with excess luggage. Should I pack a towel? No they’d have towels in the hotel! Should I carry my body cream? The tub is quite large and it’s just 10 days, hotel moisturizer won’t kill me. Shoes? How many pairs? 4? 3? An extra pair of glasses… what if I lose my regular pair? How do you ensure you don’t over do it and get stuck with luggage at the airport?

I asked some friends and two of the guys said that the problem of packing was something only women worry about. One of them actually said he just packs 1 pair of jeans and 2 tee-shirts and he’s ready to go.  Another guy said he actually tries to coax his girlfriend to pack his luggage so he can blame her if she forgets to include dress shirts and the right number of pants.

I remember, I saw a documentary on Masai Ujiri (the general manager of the Denver Nuggets) on how he constantly travels and how he deals with luggage. Brethren, packing is a real life issue. I mean, some people have a handle on it. Like someone said, “just roll up your clothes instead of folding them and utilize all available space. Those spaces in your shoes are not for nothing.”

Please share your luggage packing woes and triumphs with me. Have you ever packed the most unnecessary things just because you didn’t want to leave anything behind? If you love packing, please share some of your magic tricks with me. Would you rather have someone pack for you?

I have to love you and leave you. This girl needs to sleep. Our flight was delayed because the crew discovered fire in the plane so they took us back to J’burg, fed us well (Shout out to South African Airlines for this!) and then finally brought us to Lagos 4 hours behind schedule. You can trust that the Nigerians on board gave a thunderous applaud when the wheels touched the ground. It was hilarious.

Have a fabulous week ahead. Be strong, be happy, and try to keep your head up.

Peace, love & cupcakes!


You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.


  1. Neo

    May 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I LOOOOOVE packing but i so so so hate unpacking. I am oone of those methodical packers but i love luggage that does half the work for you, like those that come with slingbags for your shoes and a toilet bag. I also do the roll up trick especially for jeans. My secret to packing light for travel is to take many one pieces and a reliable pair of jeans you can build an outfit around. One pair of black flats which i travel in, a pair of flat sandals and metallic heels (gold or silver) and I’m good to go.

    I’m one of those people that will travel with a backpack and come back with 3 suitcases tho.

  2. hmm

    May 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    i used to have a boyfriend that uses a checklist to pack, it was very helpful for him as he rarely forgets anything he’ll need. as for me, i pack haphazardly, but packing comes to me a night before my trip.

  3. JADE

    May 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Wow, im just learning about the rolling techinique, i dont really enjoy packing as unpacking and i pack one month in advance so that as soon as i remember one item i quickly put it into the box and that way i rarely forget anything.:)

  4. pynk

    May 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I use a checklist to pack. I always write my list a day or two in advance, so that way i dont end up packing rubbish or not packing the necessary.

  5. Partyrider

    May 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I hate packing with my body, soul and spirit. And that’s why I always end up packing a night/few hours before my flight..smh
    Anyway, I agree ladies have a hard time with packing,cos they want to carry
    I pack like a guy,only the necessary things.I was going for a 4day trip with 2 of my girl friends and I was the only one who carried a back I was wondering why they needed a big bag for only 4 nights.
    As for unpacking…I hate it too Lol..

  6. Priscy

    May 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I love packing but most of the time, I end up wearing just few of the clothes I pack. I keep saying that I might need this or that but I don’t end up using most of it. Plus I my bag is always fuller and heavier when coming back…dunno why

  7. eniola

    May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Just love Atoke. Who would ever think of writing something on packing for trips? As mere as it sounds, it can be really tasking though. Well, for me, packing has never been a big deal as a matter of fact i’m good at it and never forget anything that will be needed in mind and used to pride myself for that until i had to travel with some friends for a friend’s wedding where we were all on the train. One of my friends had this bag that i’ll tag over-sized cos we were only going to be there for two nights. We all made fun of her all the way that, babe wetin u pack, no be dis 2days? she’ll just smile and say. ” e serious, ko de wa si nkan kan nibe o” -you all are not serious and there’s nothing there o. Believe me when we got to our destination and during the course of our stay, about 5 of the seven of us that went for that trip needed one thing or the other and thank God this my dear friend came fully packed. Though she had somethings one would have tagged ‘bizarre” such has needles and thread, who would have thought of that – which came handy when some buttons from our maids dress started falling off, travelers iron, trust it came handy too, when there was nobody at d laundry to take such responsibility and even get paid for it,extra jewelry among others. Sure the story was different on our return journey, everyone had a word of appreciation for her. So i guess some people don’t just mind packing and over-packing sef.

  8. Peaches

    May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I enjoy packing a lot. I help friends to pack as well. I take my time to roll up almost all stuff so they’ll fit into the bag probably. What I fight with is remembering everything I packed before a trip.

  9. Nomy

    May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Mehn i always underpack o! I find myself needing waaaaaay than what i packed, as in its almost always the case with me. My own packing tip, i sing a wake up song, it goes like this “I wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, i baaaaaaaath, spray armpits and cream myself, wear make and dress for work, perfume, shoes and bag and am out the door” if i sind this sing well well, i find tham am able to pack ALL the basics. When i get there, i findthat i need ore than the basics 🙁

    • @ts_tiana

      May 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      lmao @ dis song. It should help alot of people. DonJazzy shd hook us up with beat abeg

    • Chic

      May 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      LOL me too! Only I recite instead of singing hahahaha good to know I am not alone!

  10. Karonwi

    May 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I actually don’t mind packing (for short trips). I just have a hard time deciding what to pack. My little trick questions are: how long will I be away for? what sort of events will I attend?. Then I pack necessary things and roll up everything as much as possible (it works)

    But I HATE packing (in the sense of packing everything, more like moving).

    Thumbs up Atoke! I always look forward to your Monday Morning Banter 🙂

  11. Ify

    May 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I feel u on dis packing thing, and its harder when you are travelling with kids. I start writing my list of things to take with me like a month before. infact, i just came back from a 2 week vacation from Naija with my 9month old and 7yr old, I had 5 suitcases plus an extra baby bag. Most of the things were for my kids, food, play etc. My hubby kept asking me if I was spending the whole year in Naija. I ended up using a little more than half of the stuff I carried, but I was happy that I had everything I needed. Had to give out some of the things cos my egusi, Oporo, ijebu garri etc had to come back with me.

  12. Jo!

    May 20, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I hate packing, absolutely hate it! always pack one hour to the trip and of course always forget sum’n

  13. Dearie

    May 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Well done Atoke. Packing isn’t a big deal to me – I inherited it from my mum. What I simply do is this, I count the number of days I’ll be spending, pick clothes (carefully) for those days, pick an extra,mostly a top/tshirt (should I extend my stay) my nightwear, undies (I take 2 extra), my toiletries (you should see my toilet bag), hairnet, shower cap,a small towel (I’m comfortable with my towel) and finally biscuits.Sounds a bit odd, but I always have biscuits in my travelling bag irrespective of where I’m heading. I mostly pack a night before but if I’m too tired, then I pack that morning and trust me, I never forget anything.
    PS: Your toilet bag must include your toothpaste o! Like I always say, you never can tell.

  14. Berry Dakara

    May 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Whoa, fire on the plane?! Thank God y’all got back safely.

    In my mind, I pack at least a week beforehand. In reality, I wake up between 4am and 5am, to frantically pack stuff that makes sense. I typically would have planned out a list of what-to-wear for every day that I’m gone (if it’s less than 20 days).

    Checklists help a lot. Welcome back to Nigeria. And take me with you next time.

  15. Whalezy

    May 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Pack at least a week before!

  16. Dayo

    May 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    My mum is the queen of packing stuffs.She can fit the contents of 3 suitcases into just one suitcase,if you take them out and try to rearrange them back exactly the way she did,you would never be able to fit it in 1 suitcase,you might be able to fit it into 2 if you are really good

  17. Person pikin

    May 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I once packed two suitcase of about 22 kg for a 10 day trip to Naija. I just didnt know what to pack and what not to. And I was like ‘what the heck, I’m entitled to 23 kg x 2 anyways’. So i flung in everything! Most of what i took home ended up with my sister, so i had enough space for all the naija food i wanted to ”smuggle” back.
    As long as i don’t exceed what I can easily move around (eg when changing flights, trains, etc) I’m fine.

  18. Retrochic

    May 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    i hate when i forget any of these most important things, *toothbrush, panties, towel, it makes me so uncomfortable, and i aslo dread it wen i forget my favourite thing behind.

  19. HRS

    May 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    My major fear is moving from house to house, how do I pack stuffs without crying?!!! 🙁

  20. HRS

    May 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    But packing for a trip? Mehn!! I pack everything, I mean “Everything” I need, even if we are bunking together, I’ll rather not ask for paste from u, I’ll rather have every little thing I need, plus things I “think” I might need, plus extras…. disadvantage is that I get to burden myself with luggages and might eventually not use everything 🙁

  21. viv

    May 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I so hate packing ohhhhhhh

  22. Ready

    May 20, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I believe that you can’t have attended boarding school and not know how to pack sharp sharp. Real boarding schools o! Not them hostels for awon private schools. By the time you’ve packed for each term of each school year (3*6), you pretty much know the basics, how to stuff your bag, and how to hide the contraband stuff. Add “I just got back” experience on that, and you should be good. You don’t have to like it, but you’ll know how to do it ASAP. Tip for raising kids.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      May 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      I concur with you. I can pack under 30mins. Boarding house taught me that. And i can travel light with every necessity (credit it to 6yrs of smuggling contraband, you know where to put so,so,so and so without anyone seeing it). Imagine entering camp with only 1 travel bag yet i didnt forget anything apart from the things i billed to buy in camp cos of their bulkiness eg Bucket. Loool!!

  23. Andre

    May 20, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Packing is the most stressful task ever. I am definitely a pack rat, i pack things i feel i might need and in the end, i always end up not using the items. The most annoying part is my mum usually makes me pack for her each time she wants to travel and if idnt do it well, she unpacks and makes me start frm scratch while she just sits there controlling what goes in and what doesnt. Personally if am travelling, i hardly sleep the night b4. Nice write up Atoke.

  24. R

    May 20, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I enjoy packing 🙂 not unpacking though. Usually means I’m travelling which I love.
    I usually pack days, sometimes weeks, in advance. I use a checklist and book a cab to the airport the night before

  25. The Real Madam the Madam

    May 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I’m a last minute packer and I pack only what I need. If I’m going away for a weekend, I will pack say 2 outfits for night, and 2 outfits for traipsing around during the day. Me I no like extra luggage and now airlines in Yanks charge to check in luggage and me being the cheapie that I am, refuse to pay $25 one way to check luggage in…which in turn helps me narrow my packing decisions down to only what is necessary to throw into my hand luggage.

  26. Mz Socially Awkward...

    May 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I truly detest packing and I hate unpacking even more. I’m the sort of person who comes back from a trip and leaves the suitcase in the hallway for more than a week because I can’t bear the thought of unpacking it.

    My strong feelings on the subject explains why I also detest moving homes.

    • Hot mama

      May 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      are u sure we arent twins who got seperated at child birth?!!!lollll…. sooo true down to the fullstop!!!

  27. Lin

    May 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    i love travelling and when it comes to packing it depends on the occasion. However, I always remember that i can only do a carry-on bag because i do not want to spend additional money checking it in. So what i do is that i have several little containers where i put in my lotion, mouthwash, perfume/spray, soap, hair remedies and then my toothbrush. With this, i pack for the occasion I’m going for. However, I end up with 2 or more luggage when I’m coming back 😀

  28. Oyen'ke

    May 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I don’t have issues packing but unpacking after my return, that I find tasking! The way I pack is to mentally picture what I make use of everyday. And I always pack the night before I travel.

  29. Eve

    May 21, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I don’t like packing. It is too stressful. I have recently started using a check list which helps. I always always over pack! I’m going on a weekend trip, and I have a carry on, and a checked in luggage. Yes, it is that bad! One day, one of the airport attendants said to me…u are coming back tomorrow right? I smiled and told him don’t judge me. It is so bad that I take lysol wipes, bed linens, and comforter esp. when I stay in hotels.

    • Tiki

      May 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

      lol, I travel for the weekend, Friday to Sunday, and take a full 23kg suitcase. My policy for weekend trips is “If I’m not carrying the bag on my head, why shouldn’t I pavk everything I want?!?”

  30. Tiki

    May 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I love packing and I’m so good at it, my friends call me to come help pack when they are travelling…they even pay for luxury bus and plane tickets to transport me to where they are, lol! I use a checklist, and if I’m going to be gone long, I establish a second checklist of shopping i’m likely to do, so that I don’t take stuff if I’m gonna buy some more of it when I get there.

  31. dee one

    May 22, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Omg I HATEEE packing, no matter how hard I try to make it less stressful it just never works i usually start packing at least two weeks before my trip even if its a weekend trip (yes dats how bad it is) but my mum is quite the opposite, she can pack in a jiffy and can fit clothes meant for 3 suitcases into one suitcase.

    Unpacking is a story for another day, my suitcases always remain unpacked for at least one month after I return. Finally, moving homes…..I can’t even stand the thought.

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