The internet needs another long-term travel packing list about as much as Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger deserve another Nobel Peace Prize. But mine’s different. Mainly because I’m a guy who doesn’t always forget that he’s pushing fifty.
To quickly illustrate: unlike the 20-somethings who stuff condom 12-packs into their gear, I’m only bringing four. I’ve either become extremely picky, or it’s wishful thinking. Take your pick. You should also know that the moment I checked the expiration dates on that fortunate rubber foursome was the closest I’ve been to sex in ages.
Underwear is another. I’ve read countless blog posts that preface brutal debates in comment sections between the Five Pairs is Perfect faction and the Al Queda-inspired Two Pairs is One Pair More Than You Need group. I’m bringing eight because I recently had a urinary infection and doing laundry on the road sucks worse than bringing along a few extra pairs of briefs. And I shopped local, too.
So, what did I pack? In short, too much.
My main pack weighed in at 18.5 kilos*; my backpack/mobile office just under 14*. That doesn’t seem like much for 14 to 16 months on the road, but it is when you’ve got to haul it around on a regular basis.
Besides the grave sin of overdoing it, there is no right or wrong when it comes to packing. And right now I know that seven Hail Marys and a pair of Our Fathers aren’t going to lighten the load. Unless my mood on this changes dramatically during my eight days in Buenos Aires, several things won’t be going beyond the city limits of the Argentine capital.
It’s easy enough to buy things along the way to meet short-term needs. Problematic for me was that I needed to be prepared for a variety of climates from the beginning: heat and humidity in Buenos Aires followed by much cooler conditions just over a week later in the southernmost Andes of Tierra del Fuego and Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Another problem I have is over-packing in general, which never seems to matter very much on the dozens of shorter trips I take each year. But this is different.
I’m finishing this post at Rome Fiumicino Airport, where boarding for my Alitalia flight begins in less than 20 minutes, so without further adieu, here’s a list of what will be will be joining me on that 14-hour journey.
This is Part I, which includes all non-mobile office/electronics/photography related items, and most of which are packed in about a half dozen packing cubes. The mobile office list will have to wait for another day.
We’ll begin with the underwear mentioned above – four pair ‘active travel’ undergear, nylonish quick-dry from Karibu, a Slovenian (!) company. I was thrilled to find them at 50% off. They’ll be kept company by another four pairs of cotton briefs.
- One thermal cotton long sleeve, mainly to help cut today’s northern Adriatic chill
- Two short sleeve button down, one long sleeve, for those rare occasions when I’ll have to look presentable
- One thin base layer fleece
- Three cotton short sleeve t-shirts, one long sleeve
- Four nylonish quicker drying short sleeve
- For layering I have one Mammut Polartec Fleece and the top half of a wind/rain jacket/pants combo I was given at the 2011 European Cross Country Championships. Thanks EA and Velenje organizers!
-Ten pairs of socks. A grab bag mix, most are trekking/hiking friendly made of quicker-drying materials.
-Three pairs of pants, two are Blackhawk Warrior wear. I would never have even thought about looking these up until I found them mentioned on the Expert Vagabond. They seemed a good idea at the time. One thin/light older pair which I’ve had for three years and which I hope will make it the entire length of the western hemisphere.
- Shoes, two pairs, both from Merrell: Pathway Moc Canvas that I bought last summer just before heading to the Olympics, probably most comfortable shoes I’ve ever bought, and a pair of low hiking/walking boots. I still have to pick up a cheap pair of flip flops, and later on some sandals when I’ll be sticking to warm areas; and
- One warm hat.
Moving on and away from the men’s wear department we begin with a selection of towels, two to be precise – one small faded and partially bleached cotton hand-sized and one large travel towel, a 36x58in ultra fast-dry from Discover Trekking. I went for the midnight navy blue. It doesn’t really look like a towel but it weighs just 10.6oz so how could I possible say no. A review to follow in about six months.
- Toiletries – the basics I don’t need to list; a small stash of prescription medicines and a knee brace cuz I’m falling apart.
Other stuff -
- Silk sleeping bag liner. It’s ridiculously light and folds up to the size of my fist
- About half a roll of duct tape to fix holes in the sleeping bag liner
- An old decoy wallet with a couple expired credit cards to throw at a thief
- A Bandana
- A small backpack for day-to-day putzing around
- A canvas laundry bag
- An All-in-One tool which includes pliers and a small socket set that I’ll never use.
- A plastic heat resistant spork from Swedish company Light My Fire. The package says, ‘Come in civilized colors’. I love that.
- Wet wipes. Extremely handy.
- A small medical/first aid kit which I’ll add to when necessary. Bandages, healing salve from Southeast Ohio producer Equinox Botanicals, some Advil and a three-month stash of prescription medicines (Asthma stuff),
- Earplugs – so I don’t have to listen to others complain about my snoring on the rare occasion that I wind up in a crowded hostel
- Nail clippers. A small pair of scissors. Electric razor.
- A dozen or so large Ziploc/ziptop plastic bags
- A headlamp
- A few zip ties
- A small sewing kit
- Some rope for what I hope will not remain a laundry line from a fantasy
- And four condoms.
I’ve been extremely swamped tying up loose ends over the past week, so my apologies to all whom I missed seeing in Ljubljana before leaving. Thanks for the kind words and well wishes – they mean the world to me. Let’s keep in touch.
* weight before baggage restrictions at Venice Marco Polo airport forced a quick shuffle between bags. My Alitalia attendant was unforgiving with the eight kilo carry on limit.