Category Archives: packing

I Wish I Packed Two More Pairs…

Before I left New York I had met three other solo female travelers leaving New York for various destinations in South America just a few days after me.

After one week, I sent them my advice from on the road and a couple of questions – one more urgent than the others, as you’ll see:

***

J – If you can, get another Eddie Bauer bag. Would be great to have a second. No need to duct tape logo, it peels off after three bus rides.

Day pack

Also, take less than you think you need. I did pack lightly and I still have too much. I also packed 8 pairs of underwear and have not been in a bathroom that is clean enough to wash my own underwear. Will definitely need to do a wash in MVD tomorrow. Wish I packed two more pairs.

C – Are are you in Santiago yet? I’m still in Uruguay but if you still want to do that weekend of the 10th in Vina im totally game. Soy sola Americana en Uruguay.

M – Please can you ask your family if they can recommend an English speaking eye doctor in Montevideo. I think I scratched my cornea the other day and am in pain. Have not been in a city yet so hoping to see a doc there. Will be in MVD for two nights I think. Muchas gracias!

Safe travels ladies. Hope to meet up with you soon!


Final Packing List

What did I take for two months in South America?

Click here to read what I had originally thought I was going to take. Keep reading this post to find out what actually came with me!

And here she is, in all her glory, all packed and ready to head to JFK!

Deuter 60L +10 rucksack
Eddie Bauer foldable daypack

What’s inside you ask?

Here goes…

To make digging through my pack easier:

Eagle Creek Packing cube (1 quarter cube)
Eagle Creek Packing sac (4)
Eagle Creek Compression sack (1)
Mesh bag (for underwear, bras, socks and bathing suit)

Clothes:


Tank tops (3)
Short sleeves (3)
Long sleeves (1)
Sundresses (2)
Shorts (1)
Convertible pants (1)
Yoga pants (1)
Pajamas – tee shirt and bottoms (1)
Socks (3 pairs of Old Navy ankle socks)
Underwear (10)
Bras (2 regular, 1 sport)
Jeans (1)
Fleece (1)
Scarf
Bathing suit (1 top, 1 bottom)

Shoes:

Keen Voyageur trail shoes
Reef flip flops

Toiletries:

Liquids 30z or less (as seen in Ziploc photo above)

Shampoo (1 travel size)
Conditioner (1 travel size)
Toothpaste
Face wash (Kiehl’s samples)
Body wash (1 travel size)
Hand/body lotion (1 travel size)
Toner (small container)
Moisturizer
Eye makeup remover
Hair stuff (1 travel size)
Chapstick (1)

Non-liquids:

Razors (2)
Biore Facial Cleansing Cloths
Cotton balls
Q-tips (1 travel pack)
Deodorant
Toothbrush
Floss
Concealer
Eyelash curler
Mascara

Eye care:

Contact lenses (4 pairs each eye)
Contact solution (2 travel size)
Contact case (4 cases)
Dry-eye drops (2 travel size)
Glasses (1 pair)

First Aid Kit:

Chewable Tylenol
Chewable Pepto Bismol
Neosporin
Band Aids
Ayr gel
Bio Freeze (sample sizes)
Girly stuff
Sunscreen SPF 30+ (1 travel size)
Mosquito repellant DEET 30%+
Prescription medicine and notes from the doctors saying that I take it
Zithromax
Cipro
Malaria pills
Chewable Immodium
Pill crusher
Travel powder packets; Go Greens Veggies and Benefiber

Electronics (anything with a battery):

Netbook, case and charger
Camera, battery and charger
iPod, charger and earplugs
Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp
Alarm clock
Watch

Stationery:

Lonely Planet’s South America on a Shoestring
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
Notebook
Pens
Moo cards

Important Documents:

Passport and copies of passport
Passport photos
Yellow card
Credit cards (2)
Debit cards (2)
Travel insurance cards and information

Miscellaneous:

Travel bath towel
Silk sleep sack
Travel clothesline
Sunglasses (2)
Money belt (1; just big enough for my passport)
Money belt (bigger one when I would need to put more stuff in it)
Waterproof money holder for pool/beach
Decoy wallet
Hand sanitizer (1 travel size)
Wet Ones hand wipes
Gloves (1 pair)
Whistle
Electronic door stop
Locks (2; 1 retractable PacSafe cable lock and 1 REI combination lock)
Hair ties
Shoelaces
Packets of Tide one load detergent
Packet of tissues
Plastic bags
Cheap earrings; wear in my ears
Travel toilet paper (2)
Duct tape; wrapped around a pencil
Carabiners (2)
Sleep eye mask
Ear plugs

I also mailed the following to A, so she could restock me when we meet in Chile.

One more travel contact solution
30 more Biore Facial Cleansing Cloths
Another travel size tube of suntan lotion
Go Greens Veggies and Benefiber powder packets

In retrospect:

Did I pack light? Yes.

Could I have done with less? Absolutely.

Did I use everything? Almost. If you are wondering why some of these things made the list, it will make sense as you keep reading along…


I didn’t start packing until the morning of my departure

Oops.

I mean I had written out my packing list, I had gone shopping and I had been collecting all the things I was planning to pack. I simply used my backpack as storage for these items.

When I say ‘used my backpack as storage’ I literally mean, I threw stuff in as I acquired it.

I just didn’t really try actually folding and packing everything until the morning of. Oops.

Since I was packing the morning of my departure, it was an ‘as is’ situation.

For example, I couldn’t find my adaptor for Argentine voltage. Would need to put a converter on the packing list. Could every back up toiletry fit in my quart-size Ziploc bag since I did not want to check my bag? Of course not. Did I forget my toothbrush because I was so crazed the morning of? Yup. What about the cord to upload photos from your camera to your computer? You guessed it, I forgot that too.

In retrospect, did I really need those toiletries I left behind? Nope. There are <gasp> stores that sell similar products at a quarter of the price in every country I visited in South America.


FAQs: Packing

FAQ: What are you going to pack?

I hope not a lot! Everything will be in my rucksack and it will be on my back. I know I will acquire things along the way, so my goal is to pack as lightly as possible.

As I know all too well, anything I need, I can buy on the road.

My route will take me through mostly warm climates but air-conditioned buses and high-altitude will make things a bit colder.

FAQ: So really, what are you going to pack?

I haven’t attempted to actually pack just yet but this is my guide so far. I know I can buy toiletries (and really almost anything) on the road so am starting out with just a few travel size containers. Is 2 overkill? Should I start out with 1 of each instead of 2?

I do not want to be busting at the seams before I even get on the plane. And I would like to go carry-on so need to ensure I have one plastic bag with toiletries coming in at 3oz or less.

If you have any suggestions, deletions, additions, please post in the comments below.

Here goes:

60L rucksack – if I don’t exchange for something a little bit smaller
Foldable daypack

CLOTHES
Tank tops (4)
Short sleeves (2)
Long sleeves (2)
Shorts (2)
Convertible pants (1)
Black cotton dress (Just in case? I’d be happy to go shopping should I need something!)
Leggings (1) – Leaning towards no, because of the…
Yoga pants (1)
Pajamas – tee and bottoms (1)
Quick-dry or moisture wicking socks (2; still need to buy once I decide on the shoes – suggestions welcome)
Underwear (8)
Bras (2 regular, 1 strapless, 1 sports)
Jeans (1) – I know this is a big debate for travelers but mine are so super comfortable
Fleece (1) – $11 from Wal-Mart. I tested it on a red-eye flight and it kept me warm. Almost hot. Never happens. A winner.
Bathing suit (Mix and match – 2 tops, 2 bottoms essentially giving me four options)
Beach cover up (1; may buy there)

SHOES
Trail shoes (1) – Testing out four different pairs in my apartment this weekend, one will emerge the winner
Flip Flops (1)
Foldable flats; debating and would need to buy them first. I will have no problem going shoe shopping – I can always mail them home!

TOILETRIES
Shampoo (2 travel size)
Conditioner (2 travel size)
Face wash (Kiehl’s samples)
Body wash (2 travel size)
Hand/body lotion (1 travel size)
Razors (2)
Shaving cream (1 travel size – it comes in a pouch so not even a big can)
Toner – for when I can’t wash my face
Moisturizer
Eye makeup remover
Cotton balls
Q-tips (1 travel pack)
Tweezers
Nail clippers/file
Deodorant
Toothbrush
Toothpaste (1 travel size)
Floss (1)
Mouthwash (1 travel size)
Hair stuff (1 travel size)
Chapstick (2; I will lose one)
Concealer
Eyelash curler
Mascara (Don’t laugh at these last three, I wear no ‘real’ makeup but these I must take)

EYE CARE; this gets its own category because this is crucial for me
Contact lenses (4 pairs each eye)
Contact solution (2 travel size)
Contact case (4; each time I change lenses)
Dry-eye drops (2 travel size)
Glasses (1 pair, debating on bringing 2) – My reasoning: 1 – because if it breaks, I will get a back up pair poste restante!; 2 – because if it breaks, can I depend on the international post?

FIRST AID KIT
Chewable Tylenol (I hate swallowing pills. My quart-sized plastic bag will be filled to the max with other liquids so I have to forgo Children’s Liquid Advil – don’t laugh)
Chewable Pepto Bismol
Neosporin (1 travel size)
Band aids (just a few to start with)
Ayr gel (awesome stuff, especially for dry climates)
Blister stuff (it’s a rub for the backs of your heels, comes in a tiny case)
Bio Freeze (sample sizes in little pouches)
Girly stuff (have heard mixed things about bringing your own stash but I will bring enough to start with and stock up once I get down there)
Sunscreen SPF 30+ (1 travel size to start with)
Mosquito repellant DEET 30%+ (any suggestions on brand?)
I have read about Dehydration stuff? Charcoal stuff? Do I need to start out with it?
Prescription medicine and notes from the doctors saying that I take it
Zithromax
Cipro
Malaria pills (apparently the FDA does not approve of the liquid version)
Pill crusher (once in malaria zones, this will be as important as my passport!)
Vitamin D – chewable 😉
Travel powder packets; Go Greens Veggies and Benefiber to get vitamins and nutrients I may not get on the road

ELECTRONICS; or anything with a battery
Netbook, case and charger (still a big TBD)
Camera, battery, extra memory card and charger
iPod, charger and earplugs
Head lamp
Mini flashlight; do I need this if I have the head lamp?
Alarm clock
Watch (I don’t even own one, I still need to buy a cheap/cheap-looking one)
Converter to charge said electronics (already own)

STATIONERY
Guide book
Book (1)
Notebook
Pens (2; for the same reason I need two chapsticks)
Moo cards

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Passport
Passport photos
Yellow card
Credit cards (2)
Debit cards (2)

TO MAKE DIGGING THROUGH MY PACK EASIER
Packing cube (1; quarter cube)
Packing sac (3)
Compression sack (1; for heavier clothes while I am in warmer climates)
Dry sac for any wet items on travel days (TBD)

MISC
Travel bath towel
Silk sleep sack
Sink stopper
Travel clothesline
Sunglasses (2) – I lose and break sunglasses, so two five dollar pairs from Old Navy will suffice
Waterproof money holder for pool/beach
Hand sanitizer (1 travel size)
Wet Ones hand wipes
Floppy hat (1) – May just buy down there to blend in
Gloves (2; 1 fleece and 1 stretchy cotton) – Each was 99 cents and if the buses are as cold as I have read, this is a good investment.
Winter Hat (1) – May buy down there, if it’s necessary
Whistle and Door stop – thanks for these tips, Legal Nomads
Locks (2; 1 retractable cable lock and 1 combination lock)
Bandana
Scarf
Hair ties
Plastic bags
Cheap earrings; wear in my ears
Travel toilet paper (2)
Duct tape; wrapped around a pencil
Carabiners (2)
Sleep eye mask
Ear plugs

What do you think? Too much? Am I missing anything?

My departure date looms…let me know what I can eliminate!


For Shame!

Boy did I goof. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the boyfriend and I went to DC for a weekend trip back in October. And boy did I mess up. I overpacked. The horror!

I broke several of my packing cardinal rules.

Problem 1: packing the night before

Problem 2: packing after dinner (and wine) with girlfriends

Which led to problems 3 and 4…

Problem 3: Not packing outfits that worked with the shoes

Problem 4: Not packing for the right weather

Not only did I overpack, but I packed for frigid weather. That weekend we were there, the weather was gorgeous.

I also packed non-practical outfits. Yes, on our departure day I wore my tall boots so I did not have to pack them, but I had not taken into consideration that the jeans I packed – did not work with those boots. Which means, the boots could only go with limited outfits. Thankfully, I had packed my trusty Converse to go with the jeans. While the boots paired with my leggings, I only packed one thing that actually looked normal with leggings, being leggings. The rest of what I packed made the leggings look like pants. Big no no.

On top of that, this was the boyfriend’s first trip to DC since he was a kid. Did I remember the camera? Of course not. Do either of us have smartphones? Nope.

So at the Lincoln Memorial, we did what any tourist who comes to a place unprepared, we bought, oh yes we did, a disposable camera. Stop laughing.

Let it be known I only was recently weened off of disposable cameras in the past few years, so I had no shame. Though it was hilarious looking around us – not one single person had a disposable camera. People had smartphone cameras, small digital cameras and high-tech cameras. Not us. We had the very desirable Fuji QuickSnap.

Hey, it did the job. Well, we don’t know yet because I just finished the roll and mailed it to be processed.


Overpacking Prowess

I know I have shared some of my personal tips on packing.

I pride myself on being a good packer, and when I am not, I recognize it. On the flip side, my sister is one of the worst packers. EVER.

As I packed on Thursday night for my weekend, I thought about my sister, and her packing prowess…NOT!! I thought, what would she pack for two nights away from home?

She is well aware that she over packs clothes, hair supplies and everything you might think you need, but won’t even use. She is devoted to her hair products, and hasn’t found them in travel size. She refuses to buy travel size containers to pour her shampoo in. Obviously, because she exceeds the 3 ounce liquid limits, she also has to check her luggage…which I won’t do unless I absolutely have to – say it with me ‘checked luggage is potentially lost luggage.’

Even as kids she over packed. She was like a little bag lady. On long car rides, I’d use the seat belt to create a border as her side and my side. Her stuff couldn’t cross. And it always did.

I traveled with a book and a Walkman with a few cassette tapes (remember those?). Back then she packed stuffed animals, pillows and toys and games and who the heck knows what.

She also was given less leg room for storage. As the older sister, I always sat in the seat behind my mom. My short (er, she’s taller than me) mom. I ensured my sister sat behind my dad, my 6 foot + dad. Since my dad did most of the driving, he needed to be comfortable, and to do that his seat was pushed pretty far back, limiting my sisters leg room. This should have been a good thing, limiting her ‘carry on’ possessions. Alas, she found every possible corner to stuff some crap into.

Pack, and travel, lightly. You can buy what you need. And what you think you can’t easily replace (glasses, prescription medicine), be sure you pack it!

Caveat: I have never traveled extensively with children, except when I was one. I’m sure this changes things up a bit. So parents, do tell. What’s the craziest thing you, or your child, ever wanted to bring on a trip?

And a special shout out to my Mom and Dad – feel free to share any of J’s crazy must-haves for our many family road trips. I know I am off the hook for that since I always traveled lightly 😉


Up up and away

Everyone usually thinks about packing for the destination. While that is true, you want to be comfortable on the journey there.

Typically for flights under three hours, I don’t really care because that’s just an easy hop. It’s when you are in that plane for longer than two movies, where you want to be comfortable.

Here are my tips:

A travel pillow

I have two different kinds, one you can blow up – which ultimately takes up less room, and a Smarter Image one. Whatever you do, don’t pack a full size pillow from your bed.

Xanax

I have one chance, and usually one chance only, to fall asleep on a plane. You’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor. While the doctor would probably not advocate using alcohol, a glass of wine before boarding, usually helps with zonking out for a bit.

Comfortable clothes

For flights longer than three hours, I wear leggings, a soft tee-shirt and a hoodie sweatshirt. I also pack a scarf and depending on how long the flight – a long wrap sweater – it can be used as a blanket.

Your bulkiest shoes

In the summer I travel in flip-flops. Truth be told, flops are probably not the best choice of footwear. Should you need to evacuate the plane, flops are probably not what you want on your feet. If I’m adventure traveling, I will keep on a pair of hiking boots or my Keens because those would be the bulkiest shoes in the bag. And because I don’t usually check any bags, wearing those bulky shoes tends to lighten up what I am carrying.

SOCKS

Always. My feet always get cold. Always.

Hand sanitzer

I always carry it but especially on flights. Have you ever seen an airplane bathroom? Even after I wash my hands in that gross place, I come back to my seat and squirt a few drops again.

Headphones

Not only does this enable you to enjoy your own music, but you can listen to the airplane music selections at your seat. Anything in your ears works really well if you have a chatty seatmate or if you are seated near a barking dog.

An activity bag

Yes. Seriously. Always.

If you have any tips, share them in the comments section below.