Who needs LA when your heart is in the Cotswolds?

Nobody likes packing to go away for a trip. There are too many decisions to make. These days, with punitive airline weight limits, you can’t just open your suitcase and chuck in all the things you might need whilst you’re away; you have to develop a complicated logarithm that factors in planned events, possible events, comfort and weather conditions.

It seems ironic that now that we have the joy of a suitcase with wheels, we have to consider the weight of every item we pack. A beaded evening dress? Forget it! That would hog most of my allowance right there, and if I want to take enough underpants, it’ll have to be the silk gown on the red carpet. I’ve taken to wearing multiple layers and the heaviest coat I’ll require for my trip on to the plane itself because, as yet, they don’t weigh the passengers.

It didn’t used to be this way. In the glamorous days of air travel, heavy bags and even an extra suitcase weren’t given a second glance. The worst thing that could happen was a slightly raised eyebrow as they attached a ‘Heavy’ tag to the handle and then the necessity of finding a porter (remember them?) at the other end.

I used to have a reputation for nipping off to do a bit of shopping in-between work assignments when I travelled. In truth, I still do, and bringing home the spoils of a good bargain-hunt has always been a significant part of the challenge. At the gloriously named Thieves Market in Mexico City, I found a large, carved wooden tiger. Luckily, the tail was removable and, somehow, I crammed it (and its tail) into my suitcase and brought it home.

READ MORE: Emma Samms on dealing with unexpected questions.

On a visit to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena, California, when I no longer lived in Los Angeles and had moved back home to the Cotswolds, I secured two chandeliers and a pool-table light in one morning. They were such bargains that I simply couldn’t resist them. The chandeliers had to be dismantled and each crystal carefully wrapped before being put into my suitcase, and the problem of the long, narrow pool-table light was solved with the purchase of a ski bag. I’m happy to report that there is no airline rule that says ski bags actually must contain skis. Or at least there wasn’t back then.

Once, on my travels to America’s Midwest, I bought a beautiful postmaster’s desk. There was obviously no way this was going to fit into my suitcase, so I did a little research and found a local company that made chairs and supplied them to businesses in Los Angeles. OK, it took a lot of research, but I’d like to think that this was one of my greatest shopping victories when I convinced this company, for a minimal fee, to put the desk on their huge, articulated truck and deliver it to my door in LA.

Once, also in the Midwest, on my way to the airport, with an hour to spare, I popped into a little antique shop and found a small chair that I took a fancy to. With no time to wrap it or find a large box, I literally checked it in at the airport luggage counter as it was. A tracking label was all it needed because a ‘Fragile’ tag would have been stating the bleeding obvious – it was a chair, made of wood. It arrived perfectly safely, but it certainly got some surprised looks as it made its way around the luggage conveyor belt.

But those days are gone. My international shopping days are over.

Sadly, suitcases are for clothes and not tigers.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @EmmaSamms1