The Before Picture

Ready or not, here I go. Filled with the feeling that I’m forgetting something, I end a crazy week of goodbye’s, of packing, of moving, and of wrapping up work. But now, as I sit here in Terminal 2 at LAX waiting for Air China to begin boarding, my mind is really starting to move. Usually when I’m worried about something, I can largely pinpoint what it is, and somewhat lessen that worry. Unfortunately, being worried about the unknown is a particularly hard fear to mitigate. Even when not looking that far into the future, I imagine landing in Beijing and figuring out how to get to the hostel from the airport. For this first hostel, I decided to make a reservation, get an address, and have something concrete to start my trip after landing at 5:30am in the morning, but despite all of that, it still remains unknown how I plan to get from A to B. I know that I will eventually get more comfortable with this type of task as I continue, but for now, it remains exciting.

Before Picture

I’ve packed one backpack that also fits the small day bag in my other hand. In preparing for the variation in temperatures I would experience from China to SE Asia to Nepal to Europe, I embraced the layers philosophy meaning that there are very few clothes that I packed that can’t be worn at the same time. In terms of numbers, I’m bringing 3 short sleeve and 3 long sleeve shirts, one pair of shorts, two jeans, and one synthetic pair of pants. I’ve brought 6 pairs of socks and underwear, a beanie, gloves, and hat. For jackets, I have a fleece, light down jacket, and wind/rain shell, all of which can be layered. I’ll find out soon how effective my packing really was.

Other than possibly having some more facial hair, I’m excited to see the differences between the before and after pictures from this trip, both superficially and psychologically.

T Minus One Month

My departure date both beckons and looms.  I leave the San Francisco Bay Area in less than a month, and before then, there is a lot to wrap up including job, apartment, and trip plans.  Since there’s little exciting to say about putting my room into boxes, one area of my trip planning that I love to think about is figuring out how to pack for a trip that will last almost 5 months.

When I begin to count out the days, if I wanted to bring a clean pair of socks for each day that I would be traveling, that will require 150 pairs.  I then add a couple extra for those days that necessitate changing half way through.  I realize that I am going to need a huge suitcase for each type of clothing leaving me with a socks suitcase, a shirts suitcase, a pants suitcase, etc.  That’s a lot of extra airline fees.

In all seriousness, there are two items that I thought most important when figuring out what to take.  Good shoes and a good backpack.  I have already purchased hiking boots that I wear several times a week breaking them in.  There’s no reason to use my moleskin for blisters if I don’t need to.  For a backpack, seeing as this was going to be my one piece of luggage, I wanted something big enough to hold the essentials but not so big that it wouldn’t help me cut back on what I was taking.  Given the length and character of my trip, and given that I would be both moving from hostel to hostel as well as hiking to the Annapurna Base Camp, I chose an internal frame pack by Gregory with 75 liters of space.  75 liters is on the big side, but I’m hoping to bring 4 to 5 changes of clothes, a sleeping bag, layers of jackets and fleeces, and a camera or two.  The pack had sufficient pockets to help me keep things organized, but not so many that it would be hard to utilize all its internal space.

Deciding what to put in the backpack will be difficult, but I need to remind myself that I can both clean the clothes I bring as well as find new clothes as I travel.  That knowledge, however, did not preclude me from getting the underwear with the tagline, “17 countries… 6 weeks… One pair of underwear.  (Ok, maybe two.)” by Exofficio.