He Said/She Said: Packing Update

He Said/She Said: Packing Update

Packing is a guessing game as you don’t know what exactly you will need before you’re there.  With months of travel behind us, let’s review what we’re carrying.  These are the things that we can’t figure out why we packed, the items we are surprised to be thankful for, those that we wish we had and a few “if only” items.


I still consider myself pretty good at packing.  I have been on enough trips with different goals and destinations, to feel pretty confident that within 20 minutes I can pack exactly what I need.  Even so, there have been a few surprises along the way.

The thing I am most surprised to find useful that we packed were camping sporks.  These almost got boxed up with all the other kitchen stuffs, but I am so glad we have them.  Quite simply, I am not a chopstick master.  Then there are the flimsy takeout utensils that break when you are trying to eat something where handwashing isn’t possible.  I am not at the mercy of these utensils though, because of my camping sporks.  Knowing what I know now, I won’t leave home without them.

I can’t figure out how I ended up bringing my Marmot Afterburner fleece on this trip.  OK, I’ll be honest.  As I headed to Singapore, my cold weather gear got packed, but it was winter in Minnesota.  I needed to wear something to the airport.  In the rush of leaving I accidently brought it along.  I packed it up and mailed it home from Thailand a few weeks back, I am looking forward to spending time with it in the future, but this wasn’t the trip for it.

I also brought too many prescription medications.  I have allergies that can turn into a full-blown crisis due to certain things (i.e. horses), therefore I have a stockpile of things.  I brought too much as most of my prescriptions are generics and can be purchased anywhere, versus lugged around.  If I were to do this again I would bring what I needed for three months of allergenic hell, and get anything else I needed on the road.

The thing I most want now, but am not willing to actually bring, is a proper bicycle.  I like riding bikes, in a good year I bike about 1000 miles.  In Asia though, the single speed, steel-frame, city-bikes, causes the end of riding to be the best part.  I, of course, would be completely unwilling to lug a bike around the world, let alone the accessories such as bike shoes, shorts and GPS.  Ain’t gonna happen, but one day I’ll enjoy riding again.


I have never considered myself an excellent packer, I fret over how much underwear to bring and if I have enough cold weather clothes.  I often bring too much due to nothing but indecision.  With my less than stellar track record I was very pleased with my packing for this trip.  In fact I really had to rack my brain for things that I regretted carrying for the last six months.

The thing that I have been most pleased to have along is my Lush solid shampoo.  I know it seems completely ridiculous to list this item as my favorite when shampoo is something that you can buy in any country in the world, very cheap I might add.  But this stuff is brilliant, I know your hoping I will tell you it gives me superpowers, but in fact I’m singing it’s praises for doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.  You can use it on all parts of your body not just hair and it fits in a neat tiny tin.

You may not be sold, but it’s nice to be able to pick up my tiny tin and head to a shared shower without having to juggle an armful of soaps and face washes. This insures I won’t drop my towel and excite or horrify any other hostel stayers.  In addition, because it’s solid I never have to worry about my shampoo exploding on a plane or using a waterfall as a shower since it’s biodegradable.  Finally, it is my one “luxury” item as it comes in fantastic fragrances, lathers up perfectly and reminds me of home since my Mom is my supplier.  She sent the last shipment all the way to Singapore for me, thanks Mom!

Among the other things I have been surprisingly pleased to have are my watch, which I almost left behind as I was moving forward with a lifetime of Saturdays with nowhere specific to be.  But the alarm has been a necessity to enjoy several fantastic sunrises and even more importantly get us out of bed for buses, planes and trains.  I was also surprised to find how much I wear my black Patagonia dress, it has been a staple of my wardrobe.  It is fantastic for hot weather and it gives me something to wear if I need to pretend I’m not backpacking for a night.

The thing that I really didn’t need that we lugged around for a long time was water bottles.  This surprised me since I thought we would use these a lot, but it is so cheap to buy bottled water and we don’t have a purifying system, so we didn’t ever use them.  We often just buy a large bottle of water and re-use the cheap plastic bottles we get along the way.  The biggest problem with waterbottles is that they take up a lot of space in your backpack and don’t make up for it in usefulness.

The thing that I wish I had but don’t want to carry is my sleeping bag.  We have been in mostly warm countries thus far, but there have been some really cold nights that I would have loved my down bag.  I would never carry this because it’s bulky and requires me to constantly take it out of its stuff sack to keep it in good shape.  So, while it would be nice to have it’s not worth the bulk and maintenance required.

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» Mom A :
Jun 22, 2011

Hooray! Great tips. Now I am going out to buy some of that soap for me and sporks before we go to the Canadian Rockies. I am still debating about the watch – I have to get one. What do you have? I remember the packing anxiety and it looks like it all turned out very well. Those are very few mistakes. We are counting down now: Dad has 4 days of work left and we have 14 days until we take off!
Be safe, warm or cool, and comfortable!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, oh I remember the packing anxiety too, but we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got with us. I definitely recommend the soap and sporks. As far as the watch goes I have a $10 cheapie timex “expedition” watch from Target and it’s awesome, it has an alarm, indiglo for night and it has lasted me several years now. I think it’s a men’s watch, but it’s still not too big.

» Cindy :
Jun 25, 2011

We are now also traveling with one carry-on bag each where ever we go, even our last two Singapore trips. Will check out the shampoo from your Mom and the Patagonia catalog. Cindy

» Cindy :
Jun 25, 2011

Matt’s Marmot Afterburner Fleece arrived home safely in your box from Thailand, which was also in perfect shape (both outside and for the contents inside) despite the journey. We aired it outside in the fresh Minnesota air and it is now hanging safely in it’s own bag in our cedar closet, waiting patiently for its owner to return (your father promises not to wear it)…… Love, Mom

» bka :
Jun 28, 2011

hello……we depart in a week for Canada and have stuff all over the floor of Nick’s room…….i like the visual deal and it takes me a week just to look at suff and then packing works through osmosis for me….having witnessed the chaotic/frantic last minute packing, i am shocked you have underwear!!!…….have to get a part time job for your mothers “lush” shopping trips…..be safe…..love dad

» Anne :
Jun 28, 2011

Hey just wanted to say “hi” and love reading the updates.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Anne! Glad to hear that you are enjoying the stories, hope all is well with you.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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