Dear Readers, sorry we have have been in a wifi blackout for the past three days. In that time we decided to change the format of the blog and direct it to Asher. Some of you may know that when we are finished our trips we compile the text and photos into a hardbound book. We hope Asher will read it when he is older and it inspires him to continuing being an explorer. So when you see “you” in the text it is referring to Asher, “your mom” is Alyssa. You get the idea. Thanks for tagging along.
The Art of Packing For Longterm Budget Travel
“We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
While hanging around our hostel, we often see backpackers coming and going and we have been marveling at the size of their packs; mostly because they are about half the size of ours. Mind you, we packed for a baby, packed about 20lbs of food and packed for cool and hot climates; yet we still feel we over-packed. Mommy and I are minimalists at heart and constantly take stock of how our consumption behaviors impact this planet, impact others around us and impact our own goals and dreams.
Clothes: Obviously the fewer articles of clothing, the better, but one must also consider the quality and composition of the clothing. When you wear the same shirt every other day for four months, it better be the right quality and composition. Cotton is far more comfortable than polyester and better at absorbing sweat but its absorbing power is a con when doing laundry by hand and hanging it to dry. Cotton takes more than twice as long to dry on the line than polyester. When backpacking through Nepal, we had only one cotton shirt each and we did everything in our power to keep it clean because drying cotton in the Himalayas is a challenge. However, knowing that the average temperature is around 28C in Central America, we took more cotton this time around. Your mom and I also take clothes we can share. She wears my light linen pants when the mosquitoes are out and I wear her athletic shorts to bed when mine are in the wash. We over-packed for you because we did not take into consideration that you would be naked even at night. But wisdom is formed through experience and so too is the art. Below is a list of the core gear on this trip:
Dishes & Cutlery: Though it is great to try foreign cuisine, it can get costly over the course of several months if you are eating out three times a day. Not to mention, you greatly increase your chances of getting sick. Bringing along large stackable and durable storage containers along with a sharp knife, spoon and fork can do wonders for your health and budget. How to eat well on a budget requires its own post.
Baby Carrier: The Stokke MyCarrier has been amazing for us on this trip. We walk at least 6km a day with you and you love exploring the sights with legs dangling and arms flailing. With you facing out, everyone can see your cuteness which has definitely brought us special treatment.
Cloth Diapers: Most developing countries we have traveled to already have a trash problem so there was no way we were going to leave behind hundreds of diapers as guests in their countries. The Charlie Bananas have exceeded our expectations and helped us lighten our footprint. Diapering on a longterm budget trip also requires its own post.
Clothesline: We use a clothesline and ten clips each day of our trip.
Collapsible Kitchen Sink: Seattle Sports makes an ingenious collapsible bucket which is the perfect size for your evening bath. It can also be used for doing laundry. This does not take up a lot of space in your pack if you stuff the sink full while in your pack.
Jolly Jumper: Asher, you are a little wiggler so meal times have been a solo endeavor until we were able to make use of the Jolly Jumper. Now we can enjoy a nice meal while you happily jump away.
Sandals: We scored some Robeez from Wolverine Worldwide a few days before we left for our trip and you have used them every single day while in your Jolly Jumper since it is sometimes over sand, stones, shells, or just a really dirty floor.
Ukulele: A-Track Music helped us out with a soprano ukulele which we have also used each day. It exposes you to music, allows us to let loose and practice our art, and it is great for meeting and entertaining new people.
Kettle: This was the first trip where we brought a kettle and it has been very handy. A kettle doesn’t take up too much space in your pack if you stuff the kettle full of gear. We use it to boil water for tea, for your bath and for drinking water when needed.
It is important when packing to find more than one use for an item. For example, we have stainless steel mugs that are used for tea, washing toothbrushes, measuring oatmeal and you even use it as a musical instrument. Our dry bag is used to store gear during travel days then used for laundry or a place mat when staying put.
Traveling with only the possessions on your back is a liberating feeling and is a reminder for us about what we really need in life. Though you have never had many of the things that fill up a nursery, you lack for nothing. All you need is our love and attention and living with less has provided you with an abundance of this. In fact, after our basic needs are met, all anyone needs is love, attention and an opportunity for creative and spiritual development. When we eliminate the unnecessary, we allow room for the necessary to breathe.
It seems as though humans have many motivators but two of the strongest seem to be surviving long enough to pass down genes and to want a level of material abundance to be comfortable. It is safe to say that today we are living long enough to pass down our genes so it is with the second motive which we can have the most influence. Remember Asher that the art of packing for longterm budget travel requires a shift in perspective so that “perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Abundance is found in simplicity.