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The Beginning
February 27, 2011  |  by jess c  |  Leaving, Packing, Stuff For Wanderers, Thailand

Thirty cubic liters is generally a void too small to spend much time contemplating. Certainly so living in the big world of apartments and closets and personal vehicles for carriage. But, when it comprises the sum total of space you have to place all of your belongings in for a year, it becomes at once vast in anticipation and miniscule in possibility. Which is why the seventy-two hours leading up to our departure was mostly filled with packing and repacking, evaluating and editing for both function and fashion, and then undoing to begin again.

Sooo much stuff, so little space.

Should we bring two, or three, bars of solid shampoo from Lush? They’re heavy (when you’ve taken to measuring in grams), but if we take liquids we’ll be limited to the TSA’s nonsensical 3-1-1 edict (sidebar: reviewing the TSA website for the carryon rules, note that you can carryon up to the limit in frozen solid food, but still only a tiny amount of conditioner… or, as Jess M observed, all the frozen bear you can eat, but only three ounces of gravy). In any case, will there be any shampoo in Asia? (There is). What about the tiny packets of Woolite that seem just too perfectly travel-sized to leave behind? After all, how else will we get our painstakingly chosen outfits laundered? (Since surely there are no laundry services outside the United States). And what about those clothes? Could three tank tops, two skirts, three dresses and a pair of shorts really be enough for a year? Will we find our selves stranded in a freak cold snap if we leave the fleece jackets behind (the specific models which had, after all, been chosen specifically for their lightness and pack-ability).

In the end, not making the cut were the fleece jackets and extra pairs of long pants, as well as bathing suits we hoped would be cute on us, if only another ten pounds would miraculously (and undoubtedly, right?) just melt off our hips and bellies once we’re running about in the tropics. Also left behind was the fourth dress, the gauzy tunic shirt (perhaps to be later replaced in India), that extra skirt that was just adorable, and spare flip-flops. Indispensables include Chaco sandals––so comfy but so heavy––as well as running/hiking shoes, and a surplus of underwire bras in sizes which we continue to suspect cannot easily be replaced at the local Asian clothier. And of course, Jess M’s Sonicare.

Maybe if we organize it outside the bag, it will magically get organized inside the bag?

The results of this arduous selection process, pictured at the beginning of this post, are absurdly small and deceptively heavy packs––which, at 15kg each, turned out to be twice the carryon limit for Thai Royal Airways. So much for the shampoo dilemma. Of course, it holds true that when you tell the universe your plans, the universe laughs; the first two hours of our eighteen-hour flight from LAX to Bangkok claimed two packing-plan casualties. One dress, self-stained with oil-based salad dressing, and one skirt, felled by red wine (she ordered white) from a well meaning but ultimately clumsy stewardess (a skirt which Jess M’s mom so kindly tailored, and which now bears a striking resemblance to Gorbachev’s forehead).

And so here we go, our excessively curated backpacks the stuff of cosmic comedy, a few ounces lighter and duly reminded that for all the hours spent over-analyzing and micromanaging our preparations, the point––the joy we seek in this adventure––is the untamable excitement of not knowing, and not trying to plan for, what happens next.

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  1. Ahhhh I am so delighted and excited for you guys! I remember the very same dilemas like they were yesterday (and can’t wait to have them again)! SO looking forward to reading your blog. And while I’m probably not allowed to be jealous, I totally am. Leaving society behind is so much more fun than re-entering it. Have such an amazing time!! And be safe :) xoxoxox

    • Thanks! I can’t tell you how awesome the safe has been. We’ve been staying in bungalows with open windows and it’s so great to have it. We love it even more knowing that it’s already been around the world once! Hope you have heat, or that you no longer need it. j

  2. Way to go girls! Sites looking great on my iPhone. Email sign up is working well too. Don’t forget to monitize this thing, if you need any tips on that let me know.
    Where are you now? I’m back in Toronto and where getting a big snowfall :(

    • Sweet! We will be in touch, we would love to figure out the monitizing thing one of these days. I hope you stay warm in the snow. We are in Phuket now, it is about 700 degrees here. It’s the anti Toronto. Hope you’re well, glad you made it back safe.

  3. OMG…just reading about your packing caused a panic attack. What about the baby powder for sweaty thighs that stick together from trucking around in a skirt,the three packages of Dr. Scholls moleskin for blisters, the coordinated jewelry and scarves for each outfit,the extra drugs needed for a whole year, the orthopedic inserts for the running shoes, the electric curlers and blow dryer for your hair, all the makeup required including several different lipsticks,eye shadows nail polish and perfume, at least two books or a Kindle or Nook,larger wattage light bulbs, the voltage converter,enough underwear for a month,the sleep mask, earplugs,nose spray, eye drops,Pepto,Antacids,bug spray,Benedryl,Bonine and of course the blow up mattress ( if the bed is hard), sunglasses, several pair of reading glasses,a pocket magnifying glass for really small print,a language translator,all the cards required–ATM,Driver’s License, CC,AAA for discounts,Medical and Drug Cards,Passport, Birth Certificate (just in case),favorite gums,mints,snacks, instant coffee and a few smuggled mini liquor bottles for the plane, binoculars,cell phone,camera, calculator(for expense breakdown)a collapsible cooler for picnics,and of course everything has to have wheels for dragging over cobblestones,curbs, and off and on planes,trains and automobiles…and of course up and down steps.

    Hope you two will be OK as you are obviously NOT well prepared for this adventure….my thoughts are with you but thank God I am not! :-)Love you…

    • Darla and Joe – you are hilarious. You would be surprised how much of that crap has made it into the bag. Minus maybe the curlers, dryer, and matching jewelry. You would not approve. Love you

  4. No Sonicare?!?

  5. OK…now you know why Darla & I don’t travel together! OMG!!

    Glad to hear that you made it safe & sound to your destination. I’m not sure I could even attempt to pack for a year, my hat is off to you. Hope you enjoy every minute of the next year and look forward to reading the blog…love the automated e-mail too! Take care…love ya!

  6. Wow, I am truly in awe of your packing skills and ability to just go with it! Do you mean, you can actually travel with less then 6 pairs of shoes? Love the photos of the what you packed (I will use it for reference for future packing). I’m so excited to follow your adventure!!! Be safe!!!

  7. The things one must think about before going off on a life adventure such as yours. Who knew? Your post was delightfully entertaining. I’m so excited for you both! XO

    Just curious… Are you guys on a schedule or just planning to go to the next location when you feel like it? How much does it cost to stay where you’re currently living?

    • No schedule really, we are in KL right now trying to figure out where we are going next. Mostly we are going places based on visa requirements. We were in Thailand for 30 days and then had to leave, so now we are in Malaysia, probably for a few months (they give you a 90 day visa). Right now we are paying $10 a night at a hostel in KL, but we had a SICK bungalow at the beach on a little island called Ko Jum that was the same price. Dreamy. xo

  8. Now that it has been 6 months, what would y’all like to get from back home in storage?

    Good luck with your new business adventure. What is the best time EST to skype?

    Paul, Missy & the kiddos.

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