What to Pack!

Ah, the time has come upon me to pack.  I’m generally a last minute packer, although I always tell myself that I’ll do it a few days before the trip.  I’ve been asked over and over what it is I pack and how I prepare myself when I go out of the country, so I’ve decided to write a post about it.

Ok–I should first tell you that I normally don’t pack a lot.  It also helps that I’m going with my husband, so we can sort of split stuff up, like heavy camera equipment.  At all costs, I avoid anything more than carryon bags.  I have not had a bag lost/stolen yet (knock on wood) and attempt to avoid that by only taking what I can carry on.  The way I look at it is that if I really need another item of clothing, I can always buy something.  In most developing nations, it won’t cost me a lot of money to buy a tshirt or other toiletry product.  I have to admit that I do always make sure to bring the proper amount of medication or feminine products, as those are not things I want to mess around in other countries.

Above is a picture of the two bags I will be bringing on my trip.  The blue bag is a little larger than a beach bag and it’s great because it’s flexible and easy to carry.  I only use a backpack, if I absolutely need more room, but for my last 3 or 4 trips, I’ve used this bigger blue bag.  The blue messenger bag is a new bag for me.  It’s actually a Tenba camera bag and it is phenomenal because it opens at the top, so when I need to take a quick shot, I can just slip my camera out with one hand.  I usually bring a smaller bag that I hang over my shoulder that carries a lot of little items that I like to have with me–my notebook, pen, passport, water bottle, chapstick and little odds and ends.  I think that this time, I’m going to leave that bag behind, since I like to keep it to a 2 bag minimum and I’d love to try out my camera bag in a different country.

Items I don’t leave home without:

  • Passport
  • Tickets
  • Camera! I shoot with an SLR and a point and shoot.
  • Items that go with the camera, like memory cards, a harddrive to back things up, tripod
  • Notebook–I try to write and journal when I travel.
  • Manila Folder with items like visas, future tickets for other flights (this time, I have 3 legs of travel to get to Paro.  South Korea to Thailand to Bhutan), notes on things I absolutely want to do in a country, my loose or set itinerary notes (that always depends on how much time I had to prepare for the trip, what I was in the mood for, whether I have a local guide set up, etc.)
  • 2 Favorite Pens –just in case one leaks on the plane or gets lost
  • Flashlight–For this trip, I know that I’ll be without electricity in a few places, so it’s important to bring a little light.
  • Thank you cards–I usually bring about 3 or 4 cards, just in case I need to write a quick thank you, if I happen to do a homestay or need to tip a driver, with a little note about how wonderful it was that we didn’t fall off the mountain at those vicious curves. :O)
  • The country guide travel book–I like to stick with Lonely Planet or Frommer’s.
  • Monies –I tend to bring cash.  I always have a backup credit card, but I still don’t trust ATM cards or credit cards, since I had an incident in London about 10 years ago.  And, let’s face facts–there are a lot of countries that just don’t have the infrastructure for credit cards.
  • Headband or hat and hairbands/bobby pins–I’m bringing a hat and a headband this time around because I know about the climate, but I usually don’t bring both.  The bobby pins are useful for many reasons, so definitely bring a couple on a trip.
  • Tweezers and Nail Clippers
  • Clothes (discussed below)

Other items to go over:

  • Clothing wise, I tend to bring 2-3 of the major items.  It really depends on the climate of the country I’m going to and what I’ve checked weather conditions to be like a few days before.  This time, I realize I’m off to the Himalayas, so I don’t need shorts.  I’ll be bringing a pair of hiking pants and a pair of jeans.  Along with that, I take some sort of sensible shoes–hiking boots or trainers and then a pair of sandals (for showers) since it will most likely be inappropriate to wear them outside.  This time, I’ll take two long sleeved shirts and 2-3 short sleeved shirts, very warm pajamas (Always look ahead to see if the hostels/hotels you stay in have heat or generators or what their practice is in the evenings.)  I understand that with Bhutan, it happens quite often that there are cold nights with little to no heat available.  I absolutely hate being cold, so I’m definitely packing a pair of thick university type sweat pants, long underwear and a fairly thick sweatshirt.  Of course, I won’t forget the wool socks or underwear!  Oh, and I often try to bring a swimsuit along, just in case!  It worked out for me in Alaska, when Ray and I dove into glacier water!
  • A Scarf–scarves are quite useful, especially for women.  You can use one as a belt, to tie your hair back or when you’re a little chilly.
  • As far as toiletries, most of the places I stay don’t usually offer free toiletries, as they do in the western world, so I’m packing tiny bottles of shampoo & conditioner, some sunscreen, contact solution and eyedrops and moisturizer creme.  This is where it helps if you go with someone to share the burden to fill that quart sized ziplock bag and be able to carryon your items!
  • Jacket or windbreaker–It helps to layer when you go to climates that change drastically, like mountains or deserts.
  • Earplugs–If you are going to a Buddhist country, these are a must.  There are always stray animals running around.

Here are most of the items I’m packing away:

That’s about it!  Now, I hope to go to sleep soon!