Well, here we are again.
It seems like I just wrote my last 'what I packed' article, but in reality, it was March. Eleven months, and 25 European countries later, we are gearing up for our next great adventure: ASIA.
Embedded somewhere in my DNA (or a mutation courtesy of 20 years of cube dwelling), I've still got that drive for continuous self-improvement. I'm determined to pack even better and lighter than before as I've learned the hard way what it means to carry too much stuff. Hot, sweaty, painful.
I'm leaving behind any hint of excess, including cute clothes and 'just in case' items. My shoulders are grateful.
That's not to say I didn't get some things right the first go-around. There were winners in my European travels (Patagonia pullover, REI vest, long sleeve tunic) that also made the cut for Asia, however anything that was deemed heavy, dressy or even slightly uncomfortable got the boot. As much as I tried to maintain a certain level of cuteness/chicness on the road for Europe's sake, the focus for Asia is to travel lightly and comfortably.
Here's a rundown on everything in my pack, with some extra detail on a few items.
While we are working our way north and long sleeves will eventually be needed, my wardrobe clearly reflects the heat we will be experiencing during the first leg of our trip in Thailand.
I've ditched my black travel dress, skinny jeans, heavy travel pants and multiple long sleeves in favor of shorts and t-shirts. Also, I've also traded in my flats, Birkenstocks and super light Nike Air sneakers for heavy duty walking shoes and flip flops. Unfortunately, my inner fashionista has prevented me from pulling the trigger on a pair of much needed hiking sandals, but I'm hopeful that the jungle-like conditions of SE Asia will throw something my way shortly.
There are a few new items in my pack that I want to elaborate on a bit.
I have never been so excited to hike in a hot, humid climate in my life, and that's because I've got a proper pair of shorts! I must have tried on fifteen pairs last year and ended up settling for golf shorts, which were ok, but I always felt a bit too preppy. This time, I hit the jackpot on the first try. Heavy-duty fabric, yet lightweight and breathable, these shorts also roll down to capri length for maximum versatility.
The second I tried these on, I knew my Prana Halle pants would not be making it to Asia. Lucy's Get Going pant hit the trifecta for this traveler as they are a) light enough for the heat, b) sturdy enough for hiking and c) comfortable enough for lounging. Cue the singing angels.
Perry is a huge fan of wool as a layering piece in all types of weather, but I was skeptical. Wool = cold weather, right? Turns out keeping dry also helps keep you cool and wool's moisture wicking properties do it exceptionally well. Throw in the stink resistance of natural fiber, a sleek shape and nice color, and I predict I will wear this top out before I hit US soil again.
I read about this shirt on another travel blog and was intrigued. Made with Filium technology, the company claims it will resist sweat and stink like nothing else. Perry did a trial run with his shirt and after five days straight days of wear, including a couple trips to the gym, it was still 'acceptable.' I'll have to get back to you on the stink test, but at the very least, it has a flattering shape and nice color.
After wearing out two pairs of Nike Free 5.0s in Europe, I knew I needed something more durable for Asia. In reading quite a few travel blogs, I was nearly ready for a pair of Merrell hiking shoes, the standard for long term travelers, but not exactly, 'good looking'. Then, I came across the Nike Zoom. Infinitely more sturdy than the Free, yet decent looking, I'm ready for both trekking, but won't be embarrassed to be seen at a mall.
It's not cute, but it is waterproof, breathable and ready to serve as a layering piece for warmth when needed. Practicality rules.
I cut back a little, but not by much.
What I gave up in bulk with clothes, I retained with toiletries and most of my favorites are still around, plus a few new items, like a foot scrubber. My poor feet take a beating with all this walking and a little bit of preventative scrubbing in the shower at night followed by an application of L'Occitane hand cream has kept things from getting too scary to wear flip flops.
I did, however, lessen the number of liquids I carry with some soon-to-be new favorites. One is a pack of makeup remover pads vs. carrying a bottle of the stuff and cotton balls. I use the Tesco brand and they only cost 1 pound!
The rest of the new non-liquid pieces are Beautycounter products courtesy of my friend Denise. She is a consultant for Beautycounter, the non-toxic skin care and makeup company, and provided me with a charcoal cleansing bar, stick of sunscreen, pot of cleansing balm (multitasks as a makeup remover, cleanser and moisturizer) and travel sized shampoo and conditioner. I gave some samples a try before we left (the charcoal products are particularly awesome!) and so far, so good. Click here for more info on Beautycounter and a big thanks to Denise for hooking me up!
I've retained about the same amount of makeup as I did for Europe, although I suspect I won't be using as much in Asia with more focus on outdoor activities such as hiking rather than city activities like museums and cafe sitting.
The one super indulgent item I'm toting is a small bottle of perfume. I had a travel size spritzer in Europe and it ran out after two weeks, forcing me to slink into drugstores and make up counters to covertly spray myself. Turns out, I really enjoy perfume, even if I'm just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so I'm making perfume a priority in my pack. Did I really say I ditched all hints of excess?
I intend to continue my labor of love writing about life on the road, plus, after testing the waters last year, will likely take on a few more consulting gigs during our travels through Asia. This means some office gear is necessary. Like my Macbook Air. I love this laptop beyond reason and it's truly been one of the best purchases I have ever made. So light, so sleek, so awesome. Ok, I'll stop.
I crushed every last page in my previous notebook, with all my random list-making and Spanish lessons, so a new Miquelrius was in order. I don't know what it is about these notebooks. I've had them for years and just seeing it sitting on the coffee table of whatever apartment we are living in makes me happy.
The one new item in my 'office' gear is a tiny Cribbage board. We used an app on Perry's iPad to play in Europe, but there is something so satisfying about using real pegs that I decided to splurge and bring a board for those long train rides across Thailand, China, Mongolia and Japan.
On the packing front, I've come a long way since I first loaded up my Tortuga for Europe last March. I'm carrying and caring a whole lot less and it feels great! I know many of you thought I packed lightly the last time I wrote about this, but just for reference, here is the photo of what went into last years' pack.
What a difference a year makes.