This is it! We are at the finish line.
All the planning, preparation and organising has led us to this stage. I’ve sat staring blankly at 2 empty backpacks numerous times trying to consolidate 20 years into a (not so small) pile of clothes, gadgets & essentials that we feel are needed for our round the world adventure.
But how do I get it all in?! I’ve packed and repacked several times to check weight and capacity. I’ve even patted myself on the back for a job well done. But then realised that I’ve forgotten the phone chargers, sun lotion or towels!
The problem with packing is that it’s only on the day that you leave, that you can truly know whether you have everything! However, this has been made slightly easier with the use of packing cubes.
For us though we won’t be doing a ‘real’ pack for another 9 weeks, before we set off for Africa. That’s because we’ll be living in the motor home and can effectively take whatever we want to start without worrying about weight or capacity.
What luggage to take?
I have used, and continue to travel with, my very reliable, 65L Karrimor Jaguar backpack. It’s still in great shape with very little wear and tear. They don’t build them like they used to!
However, this time I decided I needed a slightly larger backpack and one which didn’t require me to empty the entire contents to find just one item! Therefore we were looking for a U-zip full opening system. I was conscious however that the additional weight might be a strain, especially if I will end up carrying the boys day-packs as well as my own!
Our research provided several options but I kept being drawn to the 80L Osprey Sojourn. Added bonus was that it is a wheeled backpack with stowaway straps. Don’t be under any illusions that the boys will be carrying their day-packs all the time. This Mummy (sucker) will be like a ladened donkey at times!
The bag itself is so lightweight (even with wheels) and provided easy access – ideal! But it was costly! So we decided that it would be more cost effective to keep Keith’s Karrimor backpack as our other main bag.
As for daypacks (our day to day bags), we determined that these were old and tired and we needed to find something suitable for the boys.
Again, it was Osprey that provided the most compatible needs. We tried on many different styles but find most were too large for the boys. Osprey produce a small 18L Jet daypack with a shorter torso, designed for children.
Keith wanted a larger daypack to accommodate his SLR camera and one we could use for trekking. He chose an Osprey talon 33L. We have a slight concern that the dimensions are borderline for most airlines. But it’s bendy so we’ll be fine!
I opted for the Osprey Quasar 28L with its multiple compartments which I find useful for separating food, gadgets and clothes!
What are packing cubes?
A revelation in my world of travel has been the introduction of packing cubes. I thought I was late to the table on this one but it appears not everyone knows about them!
Packing cubes are flexible, lightweight bags which are fabulous for organising and condensing large quantities of clothing. When travelling last time the packing aid of choice was the plastic bag. It was generally accepted that being woken by someone rustling was a given. So now I introduce the packing cube which are silent, easier to manage, quicker to find items and helps in our quest to reduce plastic.
What clothes to pack?
As the boys are continuing to grow (a little too quickly at the moment) we know that their wardrobe will need updating before too long. So other than buying a few light weight, light coloured zip off trousers and long sleeve shirts they are taking whatever they have. For us, we have invested in a few lightweight t-shirts & trousers ourselves.
It’s better to take clothes that are fairly plain so that you can mix and match.
You really don’t need all the clothes you first pack. Be ruthless and discard at least 25% of what you thought you might need. Then pack again and reduce further.
As we plan to follow the sun, we know our clothes need to be light and airy.
Check out my blog for the full list, but in short we are taking what most people would take on a 2 week holiday, plus travel washing liquid.
There are a few key items I will suggest:
- Sarong – which is multi functional in many ways – dress, skirt, towel, beach mat, pillow, head scarf and probably many more uses!
- Zip-off trousers – which I love for comfort and changeable to the weather. For the days when the sun comes out I can quickly whip out my sickly pale Manx legs! (Just make sure they are Rohan or Craghopper so they are breathable)
- Buff – this was recommended to me by our fellow Manx friends who are currently travelling around South East Asia. They suggested them to protect you from dust on mopeds, bikes and also head cover when snorkelling etc… You can follow their adventures here for more top tips!
Packing do’s and don’ts for foreign travel
Whenever we travel we have a few ‘do’s and don’ts’:
- White goes with everything, but it doesn’t stay white when travelling!
- Keep toiletries to a minimum. Decant what you can into smaller bottles.
- Pack a few times before you go, so that you can assess and reassess space and weight.
- Take a fully stocked first aid kit. Ensuring you include Imodium, antibiotic cream, plasters, antiseptic wipes and paracetamol.
- If you haven’t already, switch to a travel towel.
- Pack a sarong, it’s great as a cover for temples, beach towel and bedding.
- Roll your clothes when packing to save on space and reduce wrinkles.
- Make use of dead space and fill. Shoes with socks or smalls.
- Ensure you pack earplugs, eye masks and travel pillow for comfort and to block out unwanted attention!
What equipment to take?
In 1999, I took a simple camera on my backpacking travels. This time I am astonished, and slightly embarrassed, at the amount of gadgets we are taking! But I suppose it shows how times are changing.
Here is our tech list:
- Tablets (3)
- Keyboard and mouse
- Phones (2)
- Kindles (4)
- Headphones (4)
- Travel speaker
- GoPro and selfie stick
- SLR camera
- Compact camera (2)
- Tom Tom sports watch
- Portable charger (2)
- Charger bank (to charge multiple items)
- Solar charge
- Wireless hard drive
- Shock proof hard drive
- MP3 players (2)
You can just feel the weight looking at that list!! Now for a repack and reduction in clothes to make room!!
Leaving home, family & friends
It’s been a tough few weeks both physically and mentally trying to pack, cleaning the house and emptying all personal belongings ready for our new tenants. I’ve been overwhelmed (as have the boys) with mixed emotions. But focusing on the tasks have kept me from breaking down completely.
The motor-home is full to bursting with bikes, snorkels, gadgets and toys. Most of which will end their journey in Slovenia (when Mum and Dad collect the motor-home!)
We have said farewell to all our family and friends on the Isle of Man (sniff, sniff!)
Needless to say the emotions are running a little high as I sit here on the Mannanan with the realisation that my feet will not touch the ground for some time. But boy it’s exciting!!!
Next month we will be travelling through England, visiting Harry Potter World, take the Euro-tunnel to France, a quick visit to northern Spain and then on to the Germany Black Forest area.
This is the 4th in a series of blogs for Gef the Mongoose from Marie, on the preparation for her World Wide Adventure with Family. You can see those blogs here, and find Marie’s personal family blog here.