Monday, February 8, 2010

The Obligatory Packing List: Part III

This is the final post in a four-part series on The Obligatory Packing List.

Check out the intro, part I, and part II.

Paring my possessions down to the contents of one backpack, there are a multitude of items that don't make the cut.  I considered taking the following items:

The Stay Home List
  • Baseball cap:  the cotton bucket hat is good enough to keep the sun off my face.
  • Sink plug and cord:  my sink plug sucks, and I didn't use it once in Peru.  I might still bring the cord as a last minute addition.
  • Gloves:  the fingerless mitts will do well enough.
  • Ace bandages:  for pain in my knees while hiking...  except they don't seem to help much.
  • Headphone splitter:  Dave has his own iPod.
  • Gaiters:  I'd only use them in NZ.
  • Climbing shoes:  won't climb frequently enough to make use of them.
  • Harness:  see above.
  • Extra tee-shirts:  easy to pick up along the way, if they're really necessary.
  • Rain pants:  expensive, won't use them frequently, and when I would use them, it would be a very specific and limited purpose.
  • Stuff sacks:  I love to sew.  I taught myself to sew a flat-felled seam by making a series of stuff sacks. I thought they'd be useful for keeping my backpack organized, but I think they lead to a less efficient use of space.  I might bring one to use as a laundry bag.
  • Knife:  I usually travel with one.  Dave has one, and if I need one, I can get one easily in a market.
  • Makeup:  it's hard enough to stay clean while traveling.  Smearing a bunch of petroleum-based chemicals on my skin every morning and then trying to clean it all off at the end of the day makes no sense.
  • Contact lenses, saline solution:  I brought contact lenses to Peru, but they're not making the cut on this trip.  Saline solution is heavy to carry, and it's not readily available in all parts of the world.  I also have concerns about dust, dirt, and bacteria getting in to my eyes.  I won't look as cute in pictures, and I'm sure there will be moments when I curse my glasses, but it's easier and safer to stick to glasses for the duration of the trip.
  • Moneybelt:  I no longer feel the need for this.  Hasty robbers will only take my wallet anyway.  Determined and thorough robbers will ask me to pull up my shirt to expose the money belt (what, do you think they haven't caught on to the legions of tourists with suspicious bulges around their middles?).  I think the money belt is a psychological security blanket, one that makes you more paranoid.
  • Language dictionaries:  if I need one, I'll get one.
  • Guidebooks:  this is a guidebook-free experience.  No Lonely Planet, no Rough Guides, no listening to what "experts" say I should be doing.  That's the point of this experience.  If I need help or have questions, I'll ask a person or an internet forum.
  • Gifts:  never seem to bring the "right" thing.  I like buying something locally, something that my host or friend actually needs, wants, or will use (fruit, stationery or office supplies, children's clothing, alcohol if appropriate).
  • Gluestickscissorsjournal:  this was a tough decision.  I usually make travel journals, complete with collage pages.  Then, I guard the book like it's my firstborn.  I'll be on the road for an extended period of time, filling up multiple journals.  I don't trust international shipping to get my precious books to the US, and I can't justify carrying around three or four journals.  This time, I'm going to try a digital journal, backed up to the internet.  We'll see how it goes.


  1. I'm exhausted just reading about all your planning! I can't imagine me trying to pack for a journey like your taking. I would have no choices and mama needs choices!! So does Aunt Holley Mummers

  2. PS Security might take your tweezers away. Mine were confiscated at the Ixtapa, Mexico airport. Love Mummers

  3. I like that you although you are going into unchartered waters, you are still very organized, prepared, and have goals for each of your travel locations ("why" section). Bon Voyage, my friend! I look forward to hearing about your experiences!