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Much as I adore The Mom there are a few things I will not happily do again with her. The first is transit through an international airport of any kind, either going out or coming back. If I had a gun to my head and had to pick, though, it would be going out  because coming back is a whole other level of crazy.

It’s not as though she’s not a seasoned traveller. The Mom has been to most places, and she’d done some pretty mental things in her day: namely taking three children under the age of six on a flight by herself to California. I mean, that is just asking for trouble. But apparently we all made it.

Anyhow, the thing is that The Mom is an efficient packer. She packs whatever bag she’s taking to within an inch of its life. It will hold everything she needs or by God she will make it. So when she arrives are her holiday destination, she has everything she needs, organised in descending order of need and ready to go.

As you well know, I do not pack like that. I throw half the things I might need into my case (books, notebooks, pills) add a few bits of clothing on top and call it a day. Now, though this sometimes finds me high and dry and with no pants for a day or two, the thing it does offer is plenty of space in which to schlepp stuff back with me. In fact, when I go to visit The Mom in the summer, my case is so empty I get funny looks at customs. A speedo just doesn’t take up much room. But I know I’ll want to bring things back and I know I can pilfer from all the closets in the house. So why pack?

But The Mom doesn’t like waking up and knowing she doesn’t have a stitch to wear, and after spending a few cold days on various holidays, wrapped in my large male friends’ hoodies, I can see she has a point. So she packs to make sure everything fits.

At no time does she take into account that she will do some shopping at some point. She may not go on a shopping bender and buy a whole new wardrobe, but there will be something in her bag.

And there will be no room for these items.

She thinks she’s outsmarted herself by bringing along what I call a flappy shopping bag, but what Oprah might call a tote bag or beach bag. It will be gargantuan, in a ridiculously bright colour, and it will not have a zipper to close it. This bag will remain open at all times. Which makes stowing it a bit of a pain. It also means that when you’re, oh I don’t know, running through SFO desperate to not miss your flight, it will fall off The Mom’s suitcase and you will have to schlepp it for her, and the bag is sometimes but not always lighter and easier to carry.

I know because I have done this.

I have seen the flappy shopping bag up close.

I will not see it again.

If I am fortunate enough to go on holiday with The Mom (PS Mom if you’re reading this Eurostar to Paris is like 1.45 hours from London. Paris. Just sayin’) I will forgo bringing items of my own so that there is room in my hard-backed case with not one but two zippers. I will wear the same thing day in and day out if it means I do not have to lug her open shopping bag and whatever random assortment of treasures through an airport, train station or taxi rank.