Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Journey to Becoming a Reformed Overpacker

I know it’s a bit early for me to even start thinking about packing for a trip that is almost a month away but with work, freelance assignments, appointments and various other daily chores (besides the ones that seem to creep up unexpectedly and at the last minute), I thought it would be a good idea to get a head start on it so I am not stuck packing the night before departure. I am also known to be a bit of an over-packer and this particular trip is going to require learning a new talent on my part; fitting everything I need for two weeks into one backpack.

And so my challenge begins. What to take and what to leave behind. I usually travel with a large suitcase and carry on so I’m used to being able to pack for every possible scenario that could come up while abroad. Half of my makeup collection and half my shoe collection is usually a part of my travel items along with any other little knick knacks that could be useful in emergencies that never come up. This time, I have one backpack. Yup, that’s it. So now I need to learn to be practical which means I have to choose which shoes and clothing are best suitable to the conditions I will be facing, the makeup stays behind (except the BB cream, mascara and lip gloss!), any jewelry stays behind and only the things I will absolutely need come with me. I’m learning. It’s a process but I have it narrowed down to the necessities I hope will sustain me over the course of two weeks or longer if anything goes wrong. This is Central America we are talking about, after all, and anyone who has traveled in the area knows that schedules are rarely followed and buses and other modes of transport arrive whenever they arrive. Many of you may have heard of Cuba Time; I’ll be dealing with Tica Time during my upcoming travels which I hear is similar to Cuba time but not quite as laid back. Don’t get me wrong, I love how time almost seems to stand still in Central America and I love how laid back the people are but this sometimes means long waits for buses or missing the bus altogether.

I am also trying to take only one carry one with me so I can avoid the baggage areas of the various airports I will have to navigate on my travels so that also means making sure I am not bringing anything through security that will be confiscated before I even enter my gate. Hopefully my various electronics and travel size toiletries placed in clear plastic baggies don’t trigger off any searches. So here is my narrowed-down list of travel essentials that I am hoping will all fit into my single backpack…
-Passport and other documents needed (insurance, important phone numbers, ongoing tickets, etc)
-1 pair of good walking shoes
-1 pair of sandals that are comfortable enough to wear to the beach but dressy enough to wear to dinner and various functions that may come up.
-A universal adapter
-A fully loaded Ipod to help me beat boredom when waiting for planes and buses
-Alarm clock
-Cell phone
-Chargers for all electronics
-Bathing suit
-Travel blanket (which can be secured to the outside of my backpack)
-A book to read while relaxing at the beach or waiting in airports
-Only necessary toiletries and enough clothes to last a few days (I can wash clothing along the way and buy anything else I may need once I am there)
-Vitamins and probiotics to keep myself healthy on the road and fight off any illnesses that may be going around. I don’t want to have a repeat of Mexico! The last thing I want to do on this trip is spent a few days in bed with chills, in a near coma and unable to move.
-small bottle of bug spray
-some US currency, credit card and debit card

So that’s it. So far, this is all I am taking with me. I’m sure a few other little items will pop up before departure but it is a fairly large backpack so I should have some room to spare for a few more things I may need. So on with the rest of the planning and preparing…

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