Last week I asked for any questions about our trip that I could answer. I got some good ones! I may divide them up into a few posts as I am always rather long-winded…
Q: (I’m) Very curious how you manage to move so quickly with bags, clothes, gear, etc.
A: I’m going to answer this with some details about what exactly we are carrying first.
Figuring out what to use for luggage and what to pack started last September. I read a lot of blogs from people who had gone around the world by themselves and with their families. I also looked online (especially Pinterest) at general recommendations for packing and what to pack or how to pack it. The consensus was to use packing cubes as things can be easily sorted and stored.
I have to say this is very, very true. Instead of having to unpack everything to find that thing at the bottom of the bag, you just have to remove 4-6 packing cubes, or figure out which cube you put it in. I have my cubes arranged as follows: 1 for shirts, 1 for long pants, 1 that has my swimsuit, scout shirt and some yoga pants along with a few t-shirts, 1 for random stuff – a hat, gloves, travel towels, scarf, neckerchief, 1 for socks, 1 for underwear, 1 for bras. I also have a toiletries packing cube made by the same company.
The last three are much smaller than the others. Packing cubes come in various sizes and so you can get the size you need for the items you are packing. The packing cubes are also handy because they come in many colors. All of my cubes are green, Elijah’s are orange and Forrest’s are purple. You never have to guess whose stuff is whose!
When we first started on the trip, I unpacked a lot of stuff because we were staying in our first location for about a week. I needed about 2 hours to pack it all up again, but now that time is cut down to about 30 minutes to 1 hour at most. I know where things go, how they fit in, and how to get stuff packed quickly.
Since we are traveling for about a year and going to be in Europe in the fall/winter and then again in the early spring, South Africa during their summer, Australia during their fall/winter, and several other countries in the shoulder season, we had to be ready for most kinds of weather.
We each have a lightweight, waterproof rain jacket, a packable down jacket, gloves, and the boys each have a fleece head wrap (kind of like a hat and scarf together). We also each have a small umbrella, and waterproof covers for our packs. We each have a pair of sandals or flipflops and a pair of tennis shoes.
All of these clothing items fit in the packs I bought. Mine is 85 liters as I have larger items and more first aid/medications for illness (and our malaria tabs). The boys each have a 65 liter Osprey pack that has backpack straps. Mine has the same, but I’d never carry it on my back, it is too heavy. It has wheels, the boys’ packs do not. Forrest has had some trouble with his pack and we may switch it out or buy a lightweight luggage cart (if we can find one). The packs are not exactly backpacker packs (tall and thin). They are more rounded so the boys look like turtles when they have them on. They can be cumbersome on public transport.
We each have a smaller backpack that carries (at minimum) a computer, chargers, book to read, a journal, headphones, phone or iPod touch. I also carry all the electric cords for things, a large binder with all our documentation, copies of reservations and notebooks for keeping track of things. Each boy also has some small school related workbooks that we will be using in Paris and London.
Moving quickly is pretty much out of the question with all our gear. I mean, we can definitely walk 15-20 min from the train station to our hostel/hotel, but if it is any farther, we usually try to take public transport. Getting to the next lodging is the most tiring part of the journey. All the documentation and paperwork I have to carry in my “smaller” pack is easily 20+ pounds. Then I drag along my larger bag behind me. We look rather bedraggled by the time we get to our destination!
Our loads have already lightened a bit while traveling. We’ve left behind (on purpose) a hairdryer, a jacket, a book and a shirt that were not used. I expect we will continue to toss stuff that is unused or not good anymore. We’ve also thrown away 2 adapters, 3 umbrellas, and a pair of socks. We try not to carry anything that is unnecessary!