Another year, another survey (by M&S bank this time) of the stuff British people insist on taking on holiday. None can beat my mother’s friend who travelled to China for a fortnight with an entire suitcase filled with Ginger Nuts, but honestly, what weirdos take a water filter jug (4%), anti-bacterial spray (30%) and air freshener (9%)? What of spontaneity and seeing where the wind takes you, home fragrance and bacteria-wise?
No, I’m sorry I can’t keep this pretence up. For a start, the 43% who bring their own teabags are entirely correct, especially if they are heading abroad. No one should face the morning with only Lipton Yellow or whatever brown, pumpkin-spiced water America is calling “tea” this year. Slippers (36%): yes, of course, because cosiness is high on the holiday checklist. “Your favourite mug” (10%): well, I’m torn on this one. It is a truth universally acknowledged that all holiday accommodation expects you to drink out of a thimble, like a tiny Beatrix Potter dormouse, but what kind of reckless fool risks their favourite mug in a suitcase? Third favourite I could get behind.
Then there are the 19% of respondents who take their pillow. Only a few years ago that would have seemed absurd to me, but a lot of humbling things can happen in a few years, such as your ears getting so weirdly sensitive – I think it’s earplug overuse – that it hurts to lie on hard pillows. The rot started when we went away for a month in the car, because those seemed reasonable circumstances in which to travel with an emotional support merino side sleeper. But you know you’ve reached the steep part of the slippery slope when you stand by your overnight bag preparing for a single night away, pillow in hand, and convince yourself it’s sensible to take up all the available space with it: pfft, who needs a toothbrush? To the 19%, you are my people. I’ve decided to shed the shame, and plan to spend this spring carefully researching what other bulky household items I should wrestle into my carry-on to change my holiday life.
• Emma Beddington is a Guardian columnist