When we first thought about doing this trip, we decided to follow the weather and have 7-month-long spring/summer. However, due to the constraints of round-the-world airline tickets (you can only cross each ocean once) and our own personal interests, it didn’t work out that way. Now we are going to experience brutal heat in the Australian outback and bitter cold in Beijing, and that makes packing just a bit complicated. On top of that, we have a lot of different activities planned. We will go swimming, biking, and hiking; we will be in cities and in the countryside; we will stay in campgrounds, very nice hotels, and many places in between; and we’ll go to the opera, the theater, and a nice restaurant or two. So, you may see us wearing the same thing over and over again in our pictures. I apologize in advance, but at least we won’t have to think too hard about what to wear on any given day. Shoes have presented another issue. We are each taking four pairs, but Todd’s are way too big, so I suggested he only take two.
In addition to clothes, we will be taking a lot of other “necessities.” Everyone has their own electronics and accompanying chargers and headphones. (I am taking a small computer—3 lbs. 8 oz.—and a big phone, Todd has an iPad and an unlocked phone for local SIM cards, and Lucy and Natalie each have an iPad. Do we take an external hard-drive to back everything up or just rely on the cloud?) My camera with my great lens weighs just over 3 pounds. The girls have schoolwork, markers, pencils, notebooks, journals, and a few small toys. Natalie’s math workbook alone is a whopping 5 lbs. which is the equivalent of six pairs of pants and 3 shirts. Which would you take? (Hint: the workbook is also on-line.) Natalie is bringing her beloved monkey, Jojo, which is probably the only thing that can’t be replaced if it gets lost, so that’s a little worrisome.
There’s more. Do we really need a solar charger/flashlight? A small speaker? We think so. A medicine/first-aid kit? Absolutely, although it’s getting pretty hefty. A doorstop? A clothing line? They seem like good ideas. A hairdryer? Todd would kill me, plus the plug would be a pain, and most hotels should have one. A seven-month supply of daily contact lenses? I had no idea how much space they could take up.
Our first few days will be spent celebrating Christmas in Idaho, so that’s additional clothing, accessories, and Christmas presents. What I thought would be one extra bag for Idaho has turned into four extra suitcases. Luckily, those can all stay in Idaho.
Something I am not taking, and the hardest thing to leave behind for me, will be my huge planning 3-ring binder. It has everything we are doing, every place we are staying, all printed and organized by week. It has tabs and pockets; it has things highlighted. It has paperclips and post-its. And it weighs in a ton. (All has been digitized and is now on my phone, but it’s just not the same.)
I was reading a book on blogging, and it said to involve your readers by asking a question. So, channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw, I ask you: what is the most important thing you take when you travel? And what is the dumbest thing you think we are taking?