I am an inveterate over-packer. I am always the one who marvels at how other people shoehorn enough stuff for a two-week trip into a suitcase small enough to fit into the overhead bin on a plane. Me, even if I’m travelling for a week, I pack a big Samsonite case I could probably fit myself into – at a push. If I’m with other people, they usually end up a) laughing at the size of my suitcase, and b) borrowing from me all the essentials they forgot – adaptors, medicaments, gadgetry, snorkels, all sorts. But never mind that.
So here was a challenge: an overnight work trip to Greece. This time, I decided, I would be the one travelling light, swanning insouciantly past the luggage belt with everything I need in a backpack. The plan was to do my work thing and sneak in an afternoon of stolen leisure time on the beach, but then I realised that the evening I got back I needed to attend a formal reception, business dress required. But how to pack my suit into a rucksack along with my overnight and beach requisites? The solution was lurking in the cavernous cupboard where I keep my bag zoo (as you may gather, I am something of a luggage collector; every trip, I find, necessitates a different bag approach) – a thing called a Pliqo (£150), which I had acquired, and promptly forgotten about.
Pliqo is a devilishly clever way of condensing a suit down to ludicrously small proportions. Even when it’s fully loaded, it is not much bigger than a laptop bag. It can then be shoulder-worn or stuffed inside a bigger vessel – such as, yes, a backpack. The British designed product’s secret sauce is a specially made hanger that, once a jacket or shirt is on it, folds horizontally from tip-to-tip with some help from mini-magnets. Packing a Pliqo is not for ingénues, but there’s a good video guide to get you through. You will, of course, forget how to pack it each rare occasion you need it, but that’s hardly its fault. Pliqo is also concomitant on it being packed with a quality woollen suit – I wouldn’t give even a decent linen one much chance of surviving the extreme folding involved.
So how did my Greek beach to London cocktail party experiment go? Sensationally. I pulled off the trick of boarding a midsummer flight from Mykonos in flip-flops, shorts and a T-shirt and getting off at London City in a pretty immaculately, though I say it myself, suited state. Not a soul could have guessed that just a few hours earlier I had been swimming on a Greek island – pretty much all thanks to Pliqo, which has been intermittently available since I got mine, but the brand is now fully up and running and taking pre-orders for delivery at the end of October.