Monday, 24 October 2011

Packin' heat

I'm taking a little break from strangling my husband over our ever-changing itinerary to write a post that I've been looking forward to for months now. Well, to be honest, it's not the post itself that I've been excited about, it's the fact that clothes are involved.


Basically since we decided to do this trip, V and I have been obsessing over what to bring. We each have 60+10 liter bags (that's 70 liters for you Communications majors...) and while a 70L bag is considered big, we still have very limited space.

Now, while the hard-core, experienced backpackers will scoff at our massive, snail-like backpacks, the idea of fitting clothes for all events and climates during a year of travelling in a backpack of any size is daunting. V and I have spent hours upon hours discussing the best clothes, tecnical gear, packing techniques, etc. to minimize what we are bringing and maximize the space available to us. I'm not exaggerating (yes I am), we have agonized over a 50L bag vs. 70L bag, a sleeping bag vs. a sleep sheet, hiking boots vs. hiking shoes, daypack vs. no pack. I personally spent the better part of an afternoon looking for the perfect rubber sandal that I can wear both in the shower and in a nightclub. We each have painstakingly researched, searched for and chosen every item we are bringing.

So here it is (almost, I actually haven't yet purchased the holy grail of rubber sandals). Vincent hasn't done his test pack, so this post only covers my gear, but honestly, who cares what Vincent is bringing? :)

Behold- the bounty of my backpack:

That's it. FOR A YEAR. It looks like a lot, but I assure you, just the idea of clothing myself with these twenty-odd items for an entire year is enough to make me hyperventilate.

And now it's time for the break down- click on any picture to enlarge:

Tops: Collared hiking shirt, 2x Long sleeve t-shirts, 2x T-shirts, 2x sport tanks,  long tank

Bottoms: 2x trekking pants (1 convertable, both roll-up), long john pants, hiking shorts and sleep shorts

 Outerwear: Mid layer, micro-fleece, rain/ wind shell
Underwear and bras (sport and regular), socks (4x hiking, 1 regular), hat, swim suit, scarf, 2x bandanas. And a dress. I'm bringing a dress, damn it.
Light-weight water trainers, hiking shoes, temporary fill-in for my rubber sandals (for test-packing purposes)
All the extras (Click to enlarge). Missing from this picture: Kindle, collapsible water bottle, nylon sack, inflatable pillow. Vincent's carrying other extras like drain plug, knife, converters, etc..

So there you have it. I did a test run and packed all of this in my bag, adding a 1-pound book to make up for missing items.

Grand total weight? 22pounds or 10kg with everything in the bag except my hiking shoes. Not bad, if I do say so. I've always been told that 10-12kg is really the weight limit if you expect to do any trekking with your bag. As we don't want to be limited in the amount of time we spend with our bags and want to be able to trek with them, we were shooting for less than 12kg. Mission accomplished, so far.

To give you an idea of what a mostly full 70L bag looks like, feast your eyes on this:
Feelin' pretty awkward in my nightgown and hiking shoes. You're welcome.

Now that your hotness quota has been filled for the day, back to packing.

As mentioned, I'm still in the process of purchasing the last few remaining items. I will be sure to document any massive changes, but hopefully this is what will actually leave with me. What will come back with me is another story. We have spent the last nine months planning what to bring, now watch our bags get stolen after a week. Right now, we are completely obsessed with the smallest, lightest, fastest-drying, but give it a few months and we'll be traipsing around Bolivia in wool ponchos.

When we do, I'll be sure to post pictures.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

And then we fought about the Amazon...

Ahhh trip-planning. I guess it's comparable to wedding planning in that it turns you into a crazy person. A crazy person that picks fights over enormous geographic wonders...

So we are still truckin' along in our planning and making huge, albeit terrifying strides towards our departure. 

Checked off the to-do list in the past few weeks:
  • We have rented our apartment out-- to our good friends Joe and Lisa! Woohoo! I couldn't ask for two better people to take over our life!
  • Sold our cars- Vincent's to Joe and Lisa, who seriously are buying our life- it's awesome; and mine to a guy from my work.
  • Got our first round of vaccines: yellow fever, booster shots and Hep A & B. We need to go back next month for round two and to pick up our malaria prescriptions.
We are currently in the process of:
  • Buying health/ travel insurance for the trip (A lot less straightforward than it should be...)
  • Closing/ consolidating bank accounts (My Swiss bank will only let me keep my account open if I have $50,000 in it. Back to the American banking system it is...)
  • Finalizing our finances and methods of payment (credit cards, cash cards, etc.)
  • Applying for/ researching visas (Just the fact that I'm American will make my visas in South America around $600 more expensive than Vincent's. Thanks US Immigration and reciprocal visa fee policies...)
  • Starting to pack up our belongings to move out :(
We only have 6 more weeks in Switzerland! Six! Time is flying and while it's totally cliché, it really is bittersweet. We are so excited for this trip and the next stage of our lives, but we are also really sad to leave. We have loved our time in Switzerland and are saying good bye to some great friends and a lifestyle that we love. Of course, I can't complain (I know, I want to smack myself too), but the excitement of what's next doesn't negate the sadness of leaving.

Oh, did I mention that we are completely changing our route in South America? 

Basically, we had a plan for the first six months of our trip preparation and now, two months before we get there, we are changing everything. I guess that's part of the adventure, right? Once we have an idea of what the hell we are doing, I'll update our itinerary. We are still flying into Santa Cruz on Dec 28th, but now instead of going North through Peru and Brazil, we are considering heading South to Argentina. Who knows what we'll end up doing. Part of the fun is that we are completely open and can change the plan at any second, however we also need to take into consideration that we will need to set dates for volunteering at least a month in advance and that we want to be able to get through our itinerary in South America in four months. 

Which brings us to our fight about the Amazon...

In any other stage of our relationship, we'd be fighting about who has to do the dishes or who left the dirty sponge on the counter (Hint: it was Vincent. It's always Vincent.), but now we find our more heated discussion are about things like whether we will take a boat from Peru to Brazil or whether we will skip Iguazu Falls in order to spend more time in Patagonia. Just like our idea of a romantic evening in is spending hours on our couch extolling the virtues of convertible trekking pants and nylon packing sacs.

I'm telling you, trip-planning turns you into a crazy person...