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The good life
7:00am Saturday 1st September 2012 in Health
Packing for a holiday is often dismissed as a necessary chore but your suitcase (and its contents) reveals more about your personality than you might think. Gabrielle Fagan talks to an expert in 'suitcase psychology' to find out what your luggage says about you.
If you're heading to the airport to start your summer holiday, you might want to think twice before shoving your swimsuit and sunscreen into a scruffy hold-all that's seen better days.
Research released by airline Virgin Atlantic reveals that the luggage we carry says a lot not only about the type of traveller we are but also about our personality.
Its study shows while one in five of us (20%) can't remember the last time we bought new luggage, and only upgrade a suitcase if it's worn-out or broken, one in 10 people admit to buying luggage in a bid to look smarter than their travel companions, and (25%) of 16 to 24-year-olds say they buy new luggage to copy a celebrity.
Joe Thompson, general manager of airport operations at Virgin Atlantic, says: "Virgin Atlantic carries over six million bags around the world each year and we've seen a lot of changes since our first flight in 1984.
"Gone is the standard suitcase and luggage is now seen as a fashion statement with many passengers checking in a variety of designs including leather holdalls, leopard print cases and designer trunks."
So what does your luggage say about you? Leading behavioural expert Judi James puts your suitcase under the microscope.
You're a competitive perfectionist who aspires to old-style first-class grandeur and loves to flaunt your success, but in what you perceive as a tasteful and non-tacky way.
"To you, your luggage is a sign of status and achievements and you virtually expect all economy-class passengers to stand aside as you sweep through the airport," says James.
"While you outwardly give the impression that you don't want to be disturbed by other passengers, you certainly want to be noticed with your designer suitcase set and designer shades."
As you like your creature comforts, the journey is as important to you as the destination, so your holiday starts the minute you put on the eye mask and you regard your seat as a private sanctuary for the duration of the trip.
Woe betide anyone who tries to crowd you or has an unruly child kicking the back of your seat.
The corporate case
You probably once embraced the designer on-trend look but have now shunned it for something more practical, under-stated and 'real'.
"You're confident that you've achieved, and believe that in the current economic hard times it looks crass to flaunt wealth," says James.
There's a practical side to your focused and determined personality, too, so you'll time-manage a flight and work on the laptop or power-nap rather than chill in front of a movie.
"Impatience is a problem for you so delays en-route can cause outbreaks of panic and even anger, and even if you do holiday with the family, you'll usually mix business with pleasure," she adds.
Your destination preference is for cities or somewhere where you can park the family on a sandy beach while you rush off to make deals.
Leopard-print, zebra stripes, ladybird spots or fluorescent-coloured cases usually belong to an attention-seeking and slightly scatty traveller.
"You're the noisy, dramatic traveller who's not embarrassed to hold up queues while you frantically hunt for your passport or dash off to get a burger just as boarding is announced," says James.
"Generally, because you're not skilled at forward-planning and don't fret about likely consequences, your life has a tendency to be chaotic but fun."
As a zany friend, your mates can be exasperated by you and sometimes wish they could tip you off the pier by day two of a break, although by the end of the first week they've been swept up by your joie de vivre and start to join in the fun.
You're flirty, funny and surprisingly resilient when it comes to an adventure holiday because your easy-going nature allows you to fit in with the crowd and to relish spontaneity.
You're the Secret Squirrel of travellers, who manages to pack everything into one piece of hand luggage, even finding space for things many of us forget, such as adapter plugs and baby wipes.
"Practical and confident, travel for you is about low-drama planning rather than last-minute panics, and the need to stay in control," says James.
"Even if you travel with a a brood of kids, you'll effortlessly handle any minor crisis, and will have a timetable, which allows for alterations in plans, so that you can effortlessly work around any minor crisis."
You're happy with conventional beach spots but also like unusual, hard-to-reach destination as you're optimistic and fearless even under pressure and like to demonstrate your organisation skills.
You're loyal to the travelling style you enjoyed during your gap year and music festival days, are unashamedly an eternal teen, and secretly like to imagine that you can continue leading a freewheeling, commitment-free lifestyle.
"Generally, you hate being pinned down or pressured, and although you're a strong supporter of good causes and charities, you have a tendency to be tactless or unfeeling at times, which you usually excuse by saying, 'I was just being honest'," says James.
"On a good day you'll be a true explorer and a stout-hearted adventurer who'll make the best of any situation, but when things go wrong your tendency is to blame the rest of the world rather than taking responsibility yourself."
You're less of a tourist and more like an invader, harking back to Victorian times when trips abroad were planned more like a military campaign.
You take most of your worldly goods along with you to ensure you're never in any risk of compromising your home comforts or lifestyle.
"Your over-large or two suitcase haul is also partly because you're decision-adverse and you make huge lists when doing your packing and then add more last-minute items," James points out.
"It would ruin your holiday to try to whittle down what you're taking as you want to have multiple choices of what you wear, not simply enough items for a break."
You can be deeply egocentric, even though your main aim is to be liked and admired by as many people as possible, because you lack self-esteem and seek reassurance and approval.
Well-known destinations are popular with you because you like to know what to expect, or cruises where there's less luggage limitation.
Tried & tested
Our eyes can feel the strain after the glare of bright, sunny days, late nights and long sessions on the computer. Sarah Marsh tests a new spray which claims to soothe and refresh and boasts international supermodel Erin O'Connor as a fan.
What is it?
The formula for Optrex Actimist 2in1 Eye Spray; for tired and uncomfortable eyes contains liposome particles which help to heal and replenish the eyes' natural moisture barrier, the lipid layer of the tear film.
Research suggests that many people suffer from dry eyes because the lipid layer is disturbed. The spray aims to relieve tired eyes for up to four hours, is safe to use with contact lenses, won't smudge eye make-up and can be used daily.
What's it like?
I read and spend long periods staring at a computer screen for work, and over the last six months I've noticed my eyes are more dry and feel quite uncomfortable by the end of the day.
As I use contact lenses I wondered if they were causing this but swapping them occasionally for glasses didn't help.
This product appealed because it can be sprayed on to closed eyelids which is much easier than fiddling about with eye drops, and it doesn't disturb eye make-up so it's easy to use at work.
It's apparently a hit with supermodel Erin O'Connor, who's said that she regards it an essential part of her travel pack, as it can help counter eye dryness often encountered during flights because of air conditioning.
I was told by optometrist Sarah Farrant that the eye spray can "help repair the lipid layer and relieve the uncomfortable feeling of tired eyes".
Also, there's a provitamin B5 in the new formula of the spray to moisturise the eyelids and the surrounding delicate skin.
After a week's use, I feel it has given me some relief as I don't look quite as tired as normal, and my eyes are less red because, without realising it, I had been rubbing them to ease the irritation.
Overall, I think I also need to be more disciplined about having a 20-minute screen break every two hours and learn to treat my eyes with more respect.
:: Information: Optrex Actimist 2in1 Eye Spray: for tired and uncomfortable eyes, £15.31, available nationwide from supermarkets, pharmacies and grocery stores. For more information, visit www.optrex.co.uk
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