The Incredible Lightness of Travel


“On a long journey, even a straw weighs heavy.”  ~Spanish proverb

Time to sort through the bag one last time and skim off a couple more pounds. I’ve managed to get 7-weeks worth of possessions in one, count it, one carry-on bag. It weighs in at 26 pounds, which doesn’t seem like much until you’ve hiked 10 miles in a city when it’s sunny and 85 degrees out, a salt deposit forming on the small of your back where the sweat tends to collect. The online bible of travel commandos: www.onebag.com

My primary travel weapon of choice is the MEI Voyager, a mild-mannered suitcase that turns into an adventuring wonder with the release of hidden backpack straps.You don’t really need many clothes to live. I’m taking three pairs of pants, a skirt, two long-sleeve shirts (maybe one), four short-sleeve shirts (maybe five), and a reversible jacket. Everything is hand washable if necessary, and made of quick dry fabric. I am partial to cotton in real life, but it’s heavy and doesn’t dry very quickly. Plus I manage to stain practically anything cotton the first time I wear it, because I have some sort of super-human, goop-attracting ability that has absolutely no practical crime-fighting application.

I like clothing and gadgets that do double duty. If I hadn’t paid Magellan’s so much for super-deluxe travel underwear, I might consider the combination tank top/underwear creation as pictured at right (I hear this inventive designer is a contestant on the next round of Project Runway).

Most of the bulk that I’m carrying is just-in-case stuff. Some natural remedies for stomach ills, such as grapefruit seed extract and cayenne pepper tabs. Basic homeopathic remedies. Probiotics so good-guy microbes can wage a winning battle against Blue Meanies.

Blue Meanies preparing for battle. Now you understand the concern.

There are a couple of luxury items too. I could live without the iPod, but it is light enough at 1.2 ounces. However, comfortable headphones are 5.2 ounces, and the travel charger and wires are 3.4 ounces. That’s a hefty 9.5 ounces! But knowing that there will be at least 2 ten-hour bus trips, it’s probably worth it. A tough one is the set of hiking poles, 1.6 pounds (ouch) of knee-saving, high-tech goodness. Are my knees worth 11 ounces each? Uff. But they could also be useful in fending off hungry jaguars (the poles, not my knees), so perhaps they’re worth it. Another nice item, weighing in at over 1/2 pound, is a Katadyn portable water filter. For now it is out, since I’ll be able to buy or boil water. My security system consists of a belt with a secret zipped pocket and an uncomfortable under-clothing pouch. And the hiking sticks (3 separate uses qualifies them for packing). Street smarts, they don’t weigh anything.(Yes, Nancy, I can hear you laughing at the weights and measures portion of the program.)

There must be a pound of ziplock bags involved in organizational duties, but they’re essential.

Finally, 4 books at 2.5 pounds. One I can read on the plane and abandon; the Spanish dictionary, phrasebook, and grammar tome will have to stick along for the ride.

That's all she wrote.

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About ThesePartsUnknown

I write, I travel, I make art.
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8 Responses to The Incredible Lightness of Travel

  1. Wendy says:

    Are you taking a cell phone/camera or mini lap top? Or, how do you plan to keep in touch?

  2. No phone, no computer. In theory, there are internet cafes. The blog is the main means of communication! Viva la tecnologia!

  3. Wendy says:

    Why not travel with a world smart phone? Small, but powerful. Good for safety reasons too…

  4. Lisa R. says:

    Be safe! Will be thinking of you!

  5. Lisa R. says:

    Be safe! I’ll be thinking of you!

  6. catia says:

    There is a certain freedom, a certain wildness, if you will, in traveling with no gadgets. Except an ipod, of course. Because why would one do that?

  7. Nancy says:

    🙂 Ziploc bags – the savior or boxers!!

    Enjoy!!!!

  8. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Glad to hear you arrived OK.
    Take care,
    ME

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