Some travel statistics – part 2

It has taken me awhile to get back to capturing our statistics…getting pregnant and starting a new job will do that to you! Reuben and I are expecting our first baby in October 2014 and meanwhile I am working on a four month contract as a social worker while Reuben does contract web development. But, we wanted to finish our blog thoughts, so here we go! One of the questions we got asked as we travelled was:

“How do you pack for two years of travel?”

Well, we didn’t really know what to pack before we left. We spent some time reading other people’s packing lists and then put together our own based on what we thought we would need, bearing in mind that our first stop would be South America in late summer/early autumn.  Here’s what we actually packed when we left New Zealand:

Reuben:

  • 1 pack (Kathmandu Entrada 65 litre pack) with a clip on day pack (similar to this one)  Would take again.
  • 1 side bag, used throughout our trip – this packed down into itself, could be worn securely in front of the body and was our general bag for taking out. It made it through nearly 2 years of daily use (with a couple of zip fixes along the way) Would take again.
  • 1 sun hat. Hardly wore this. Would not take again.
  • 1 light weight zip up top. Would take again.
  •  3 pairs of trousers – 1 zip off and two non zip off. Wound up sending one pair home. Would take all zip off again (even though they look touristy).
  • 1 black microfleece top. Wore constantly. Would take again.
  • 1 polo shirt. Sent home as it was terrible quality and returned to shop. Would not take again.
  • 2 travel shirts, one long sleeved and one short sleeved. Very useful for more dressy situations. Would take again.
  • 3 pairs of shorts. Wore constantly. Would take again.
  • 6 t shirts. These were useful but almost all got replaced along the way.Would take again.
  • Board shorts for swimming. Wore constantly. Would take again.
  • 2 pairs of boxer shorts to sleep in. Wore constantly. Would take again.

 

Karen:

  • 1 40 litre pack (Kathmandu Voltai pack) – I chose a 40 litre pack because I knew I could lift it! This one is specifically cut for women through the hip straps  (identical to this one). Would take again (although Reubs would prefer I took a bigger one for more even load sharing!)
  • 1 day pack that packed down into itself, used as a carry on. Would take again.
  • 1 long dress. Sent this home from USA as barely wore it. Would not take again.
  • 1 sundress. Used this as a cover up and got rid of it as it got cooler. Would take again.
  • 1 sun hat. Wore constantly throughout the trip. Would take again.
  • 1 light weight zip up top. Would take again.
  • 1 pair of jeans. You hear a lot about whether or not you should take jeans – I loved having these and wore them all the time – they became a “dressy option” and invaluable in wintry Europe. Would take again.
  • 2 lightweight cardigans for layering.  I wore these all the time. Would take again.
  • 1 black microfleece top. Wore constantly. Would take again.
  • 2 pairs of 3/4 pants. Wore the black ones for the entire trip. Would take again.
  • 1 pair of 3/4 leggings. Really only useful with one top – pants need to be wearable with multiple options. Would not take again.
  • 1 travel skirt, reversible on either side. This became my “dressy” option. Would take again.
  • 7  t shirts, including 2 singlets. These were useful but almost all got replaced along the way.Would take again.
  • 1 swimsuit and board shorts for swimming. Outside of New Zealand hardly any women wear shorts with their swimsuits, so I wound up ditching these. Would take swimsuit again.
  • Pyjama top and bottoms. Kept losing these and having to replace them. Would take again.
  • 1 red travel shirt. Wore this as a dressier option. Would take again.
  • 1 longer top/dress to wear with leggings. Would take again.
  • 1 black merino top. Great for layering. Would take again.
  • 1 bandana, used for bad hair days. Would take again.
  • 1 pashmina scarf, used as a scarf, but also useful for changing behind in public. Would take again.
  • 1 pair of cute sandals for dressing up. Would take again.
  • 4 bras – one was meant to be a sports bra but this somehow got left out of my bag. Would take again.
  • 1 journal, 1 notebook and pens. This was great as it meant I could journal my notes for the blog. Would take again.
  • Makeup and mini straighteners. Not long into our travel I decided it was too much effort to wear makeup and straighten my hair, so decided to just go makeup free and natural throughout the trip. My skin actually seemed to appreciate the break! Would not take again.

 

General:

  • Packing cells.  We took 2 large and 6 small between us and used one big one each as a dirty laundry bag.  The smaller ones we used to separate medications, games, suncream etc.  It was incredibly convenient not to have to search through our packs for smaller items. Would take again and bring more! 
  • 6 pairs of sports socks that we shared between us. Would take again.
  • 1 pair of Havainas jandals each, which we wore all the time – Reuben went hiking in his but I wore mine more at the beach and for short walks. Would take again.
  • 1 pair of good quality sneakers each, which I wore constantly while walking around cities. Would take again.
  • 2 microfibre towels. These were useless on sand, took forever to dry and were not nice to shower with. We ended up ditching them and replacing them with $8 beach towels that lasted the rest of our trip. Would not take again.
  • 2 umbrellas. Invaluable in places where it was wet but not cold. Would take again.
  • 8 pairs of underwear each. We didn’t bother with lightweight travel dry ones and just took our normal underwear, which worked out fine. Obviously, would take again.
  • A pair of thermal leggings and a thermal top each. Really useful both in the high altitudes of South America and in Europe’s winter. Would take again.
  • 2 plastic plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons purchased really cheaply from The Warehouse. We used these throughout our whole trip, for camping, picnicking and eating random meals. Could not recommend more highly. Would take again.
  • 1 travel french press coffee maker. Used daily for the entire trip.  Could not recommend more highly. Would take again.
  • 1 swiss army knife. Used for camping, picnicking and at random moments – if anything we would have got a bigger one with more features. Would take again.
  • Various medications that we would need – once we got to Asia we could replace anything we wanted but before that we had a few prescriptions medications like general antibiotics, birth control pills etc. The two most valuable medications were ibuprofen for headaches, and Dramamine (an anti travel sickness pill that also causes drowsiness – perfect for overnight bus and train trips!)
  • Debit cards and credit cards. We used Air NZ’s “Onecard” for travel which was brilliant – you get three free cash withdrawals a month and can do transactions in the local currency.
  • Mini photo album with photos of our families and friends. We really didn’t need this as images are now so available on Facebook, email etc. Would not take again.
  • Pack of playing cards and 2 player “Settlers of Catan”. We didn’t actually use these as much as we thought we would but it was still nice to have the option – so would take again.
  • 1 chain padlock to lock our bags together – this brought lots of extra peace of mind (until someone cut one of the bags away around it). Would take again.
  • 1 travel wallet with passports, emergency numbers, insurance details, flight details, vaccination certificates, international drivers licences, passport photos, copies of our glasses prescriptions and $250 emergency US dollars.
  • 1 roll of duct tape which we used to fix everything along the way. Would take again.
  • 2 head torches which we used all over the world. Would take again.
  • 1 travel alarm clock – we wound up just using our phone and never really used this. Would not take again.
  • 1 travel sink plug and portable washing line – we used this once or twice but the line fell down and it was just as easy washing clothes in the sink without a plug. Would not take again.
  • Combination padlocks to lock all our bags – these were essential. Would take again.
  • 1 travel sewing kit – we used this all the time, for fixing umbrellas, sewing on buttons and more. Would take again.
  • Sunglasses for each of us – cheap ones for me for the beach and prescription ones for Reuben. Would take again.
  • Washing powder – we replaced this as we needed it but could have just bought it along the way. Would not take again.
  • 20 Zip lock bags – we used these all the time, for storing bits and pieces, food, leftovers for picnics and more – they were really helpful.   Would take again and bring more.
  • 1 book each and 1 Bible each. Once we got Kindles we didn’t really read physical books much anymore. Would not take again.
  • Ear plugs and a sleep mask for me – we didn’t really use these very much as we are both really deep sleepers – might depend on your personal preference. On the other hand, they take up almost no room. Would not take again.
  • Insect repellent, Aloe vera for post sun burns and sunblock to try to stop sunburn. Would take again.
  • Hand wash paper and Hand sanitizer – we never used this as we just washed our hands before eating. Would not take again.
  • Electrolyte sachets – we kept replacing these and buying more Oral Rehydration Salts as these were fantastic when dehydated. Would take again.
  • General toiletries – electric razor, shampoo and conditioner, soap etc. Would take again.
  • 1 pack of coffee to get us started. Would take again.

Technology:

  • Camera and camera case.
  • Batteries and battery charger
  • Smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S II) (we also bought Kindle guidebooks and read them on this, which made us look way less touristy and saved on weight)
  • Laptop – Toshiba Notebook
  • 1 TB external hard drive for back up
  • Extra camera battery
  • Extra SD card for camera
  • 2 x international plug adaptors
  • ipod touch
  • Laptop case
  • USB car charger
  • Portable speakers

Here’s what we bought along the way:

  • Woolly hats and gloves when we realised we were going up into the Andes
  • A wool alpaca top (Karen)
  • Beach towels in Mexico to replace our horrible microfibre towels
  • Camping gear in the USA – tent, blow up mattress, sheet, pillows and pillowcases, duvet, pot, camp cooker, wooden spoon, frying pan, vege peeler, travel coffee mugs, can opener etc.
  • New clothes in the USA – jeans from the Levi’s shop in San Francisco, new sneakers (mine were worn out), fun t shirts, a new cardigan from Goodwill, new underwear, a new swimsuit etc…
  • A winter jacket each before we went to Europe (mine was a lot thicker than Reuben’s – he coped by layering a lot).
  • Scottish scarves (they were actually a gift)
  • Winter boots (Karen) and winter shoes (Reuben)
  • A tablet when we realised we both had the same down time and were struggling to share the laptop fairly. In retrospect, we should have bought a second laptop as the tablet we chose couldn’t really cope with blogging.
  • Kindle paperweights and cases – best buys ever as they meant we no longer had to carry books with us.
  • A whole new bag and wardrobe for me in India when mine was stolen.
  • Replacement jandals and sandals along the way when ours wore through.
  • Zip off pants for me and trackpants for Reuben.
  • Shirts and t shirts as needed.
  • A magnet from every country we visited.
  • Cooking basics and spices so we could do our own cooking.

Here’s what we wished we had bought:

  • A funnel – we mixed lots of our own cocktails and this would have made that easier.

And our biggest lesson? Not to stress too much about what you bring – depending on where you are, you can generally replace it (with a few exceptions – finding shoes in a size 11 in India was a challenge) and to pack for the seasons you will be in and add to your wardrobe as you go if needed. It also helps not to be too fussy about what you wear – there are six months worth of photos of us in Europe wearing the same jeans and black jackets – but it was helpful in keeping space down!

 

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