Monday, February 8, 2010

The Obligatory Packing List: Introduction

This past weekend, I started packing up my (few) belongings in the lakehouse and putting aside the things I'll bring with me on this trip.

Now, if you're gonna have a travel blog, you pretty much gotta write about what goes in your pack.

Part of me strongly dislikes this.  If everyone is doing it, that's a sure-fire indication that I'm not going to want to do it (I'm a brat like that), or at least won't do it without an inordinate and unnecessary amount of soul-searching.

I mean, the point of this trip is to get rid of all of my stuff, to think less about stuff and the acquisition and maintenance of said stuff:  to transcend stuff, if you will.  Won't I be the backpacker with the microscopic pack at whom everyone looks in awe and whispers, "She's on the road for three years, and all she has is a small Ziploc baggie, a toothbrush, and a book of Psalms," as if I were a Buddhist nun with a well-stamped passport instead of an alms bowl?

The other part of me moonlights as "The Packtress."  Ever since I was a kid, I've always enjoyed packing for trips.  I love fitting items together in a container like a life-sized, somewhat compressible Tetris game.  I reflexively take charge of packing the trunk for a car trip.  I'm the freak that re-loads the dishwasher, just so everything fits like it "should."

In the end, The Packtress won over the passport-toting Buddhist nun, and I wrote this series of posts.  But first, a few notes before we open the drawstrings and peer inside.
  • First, this packing list is greatly informed by my experience backpacking in Peru in 2009.  It's great to have a "trial run" to see what you really need, versus what you think you need. 
  • Second, I am thoroughly convinced that you don't need special travel gear to travel comfortably.  (One thing I noticed was that many Yankees I encountered in Peru were decked out in "travel gear," while most Europeans and South American tourists were wearing their usual (trendy, nice) clothing.)  I will reference items I already had and items I found in dollar stores as frequently as I mention the Peru trip.
  • Third, if you can sew, you can make or modify anything made of a sewable material.  This skill takes up no space in a backpack, but I wouldn't leave home without it.
On to Part I...


  1. Yes! re: "travel gear." I loved the northamericans wearing safari vests in the megalopolis of Santiago de Chile. A really fantastic look, for starters, and they make it easy for pickpocketers, so it's benefiting the local economy...