My friend asked me the other day, “Do you think you packed the right amount of things? Not too much or not too little? Now that you’ve been there for almost 2 months, what’s the one thing you miss the most so far?” So here are my thoughts on the pack list that I posted before we left.
The absolute number one thing that I miss so far is probably my fleece. My beautiful, warm fleece that I decided to leave behind in a haze of bad judgment brought on by 80F degree weather in Southern California. If I had it, I would probably still be cold, but I’ve fantasized so much about it now that it’s taken on mythical proportions. With that fleece, I could probably find cheaper bus tickets, sleep better in loud hostels, and obtain world peace.
My fleece and I in happier times… in fact, the happiest of times! Oh, and some other people that are pretty cool that I’ve known half my life… they’re almost as nice as my fleece.
Here is a list of things that I’ve bought so far on the trip:
- trucker hat ($10, so I can be as cool as Craig)
- sweatshirt ($30, and already has holes in the armpit that I need to mend, argh! I gave away the light-weight sweater to make room.)
- scarf ($8, the one I brought was too weenie)
- USB thumb drive ($9, not sure why we didn’t bring one…)
- pair of plain, black leggings ($10, that have shrunk and are now like highwater leggings, but still comfortable and classic)
I also plan on buying, when the time (and price) is right:
- proper beanie without a giant hole in it (hopefully really cheap in Peru)
- towel (hostels have all had towels so far in Argentina and Chile, but we’ve heard that things will get dicey in the North, so we might have to invest in some)
Now, meet the Swedes, Erik and Lisa.
I know, right? Those are some huge bags!! And don’t forget they’re Scandinavian, so they’re pretty tall.
Here’s another shot of Lisa and her bag for some more perspective.
That. Is. A. Gigantic. Bag.
We actually weighed our bags before we parted ways, and Lisa’s won, coming in at 19.5kg (42.9lbs)! Craig’s was just behind at 19kg, but he had a couple kilos of clothes in the wash, so Craig would probably have edged Lisa out if he had his clothes in there. Erik’s was about 17kg. Here’s a picture of Craig and I at the very start of our trip to give you guys some perspective on pack size:
Large backpacks, but at least not taller than us!
My bag is so weenie in comparison to everybody else’s. It weighed in at only 14.5kg (31.9lbs, but I was missing most of my clothes as well). Take note that we have a grey duffel that we’ve been using to carry our hiking boots in. Lisa could fit her hiking boots in her backpack, which was an 80L pack. Mine is only 55L, which was bought on purpose to limit the things I could bring, but also means it would take a feat of ingenuity that I do not possess to get my boots in there.
Now here’s the really crazy part: Erik and Lisa are carrying NO camping gear. No tent, no sleeping bag or pad, no stove, no water purifier. They’ve also been traveling for 7 months, and have been through Cuba, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Columbia, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and Chile. They have also done some trekking (and renting gear), but it wasn’t a focus of their trip as it has been for ours.
So what are they carrying in those monsters? I got to snoop as they were packing up, and here are some things that they’ve been carrying that we haven’t:
- running shoes (Lisa’s)
- full-size towels
- a travel, double-sized mosquito net
- giant pair of headphones in a hard case
- a portable scale (this is how we weighed our bags–Erik said it was only the 2nd time he’d used it)
- a lei of artificial flowers that Lisa had been carrying around since Carnival in Rio
All of this doesn’t take up too much space, so as you’ve probably guessed, the majority of their extra weight was taken up by clothes. Warm clothing with more variety. But now that I’ve bought my new sweatshirt and leggings, I don’t see the need for any more clothes (I’m still resigning myself to such a limited wardrobe, sigh). It would be really nice to be able to fit my boots into my backpack and not have to carry them in the duffel. So now comes the very difficult decision of whether or not to keep carrying stuff for trekking (i.e. tent, sleeping pads, etc.).
It’s a difficult decision because we love to trek. We’ve been doing it back in the States for years. We’ve had some great treks so far on our trip. But do we need to continue? Would it be worth the extra space to just rent a tent whenever we want to trek, instead of toting ours around everywhere? We’re still not sure, and so we need to research trekking in other countries and how appealing it is to us at this point in our trip. I’m sure Craig wouldn’t mind offloading the tent, since he’s carrying most of it. For me, any extra space freed up by the absence of a sleeping pad would be welcome. Especially if we’re going to need to make room for towels…
The only thing I concretely wish I hadn’t taken was the purse that I’m wearing in the picture above. It’s a great purse, and quite roomy, but since I have my Flash 18 backpack, it’s redundant. Hopefully I can find somebody to take it back to Seattle for me (ahemMackenzieahem)…
So that’s the packing update for now! Perhaps I’ll do some more posts about how I pack my bag, my two cents on the ol’ folding vs. rolling debate, and any other packing tips I can think of, but honestly, every traveler probably just has to find their own system by trial and error. But if you’re ever in doubt of anything, just remember one thing: Bring that fleece!