After quite the ordeal to find the “perfect” bag, we finally resolved that these Osprey bags were almost exactly what we I wanted (let’s be real…I did all the researching and second guessing on bags here). While the intention was not to match or anything, these turned out to be the best travel-friendly carry on backpacks for us. They are carry on sized, can open all the way up for easier packing and have a good amount of support through the straps for walking around all day.
Snacks – SO many snacks. With a long list of food allergies/sensitivities/whatever you want to call it, I don’t exactly know what I will be eating when outside of my home. So, Lara Bars, Think Thin, Trader Joe’s Fruit Bars, trail mix, KIND, Luna Bars and so many others become trusty companions rather quickly. But even without food challenges like mine, it’s always a good idea to pack plenty to eat on the go.
Important documents (duh) – For this trip, it’s a passport, plane ticket, immunization records and the receipt of the reciprocity fee (saying we paid the money required to enter the country).
Printed itinerary – this one doesn’t always make the list for people, but I think it should. We have a mix of planned and unplanned days ahead, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. Ours includes all the information (and directions) to each of the places we are staying (we’re staying in six different hotels/hostels in our time there!) as well as information on a few things we’d like to see or do. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it helps put it all in once place.
Phrasebook – yes, they still make these. Lonely Planet has an excellent line of phrasebooks that are ideal for travel.
Notebook (Noticing an old school theme here yet? things like paper and books) As much as we love technology, they can at times be less reliable, plus they can become a liability. Who might want to steal my computer? On the flip side, who would be interested in grabbing my tiny notebook? This is for random notes and thoughts along the way.
Clothes, shoes, toiletries. You know, the things that you pack no matter where you go. Nothing groundbreaking really other than the fact that we are fitting it all into one backpack each. Packing layers is key. So is rolling your clothes and supposedly, packing cubes are all the rage these days. We’ll try out a few packing cubes, but don’t think you can’t pack light without one.
Small bags – I’m sure you’re thinking, we get it, you’re only bringing backpacks. But we aren’t going to want to have our full backpacks with us while hiking through the jungle or climbing a mountain (are we doing those things? time will tell). Therefore, we’ll each be bringing smaller bags as well to take around during the day. I’ll be using my Keen purse I bought a few years back and the hubby will be bringing a tiny backpack that folds up super small. Both have great pockets with zippers – what I consider to be an absolute must for a day bag.
What We Didn’t Pack:
Large suitcase – I promise I didn’t do this just to be difficult. I’ve packed large suitcases in the past (like when I studied abroad for an entire semester) and it can serve a purpose. But it can also get in the way. With the amount of moving around we’ll be doing, it seemed best to keep things simple.
Current cell phone – meaning, don’t try to get a hold of me while we’re gone. We are bringing old phones for the purpose of wi-fi when it is available, but otherwise there didn’t seem to be a need to bring our actual phones, especially considering how common pickpocketing is.
Engagement ring – GASP. Don’t worry. I’m still married. Also, still wearing my wedding ring. My rings are antiques and not exactly the kind of thing you can replace. I never got my rings soldered together, so sometimes it’s nice to leave the engagement ring home in a safe place.
Computer – I am not going to Argentina to blog or send emails, believe it or not. When you only have one (small) bag, you are also forced to prioritize, and a computer did not make the cut. We’ll have access to computers in some of the places we’re staying if absolutely needed, but it’ll be good to take a break. I’m sorta looking forward to that kind of freedom from technology.
It’s 2013. People have mostly made their resolutions and maybe even already broken them. That’s the beauty of holding out a few weeks. I can hopefully have better luck sticking with it. While I haven’t set all my goals yet for this year, I did dig up last year’s list. How I managed to locate the page in the middle of one of the dozens of miscellaneous notebooks is beyond me but I was glad to find it regardless. It’s titled Finish Year based on a little Jon Acuff encouragement, but otherwise, it’s a resolution list by any other name.
So how did I do? Almost better than I could have hoped! Woot! Here’s the list from last year and how I tackled it.
Music: Record 2 songs. While they weren’t the songs I thought they would be, the hubby and I did put out some Christmas songs this year as well as a few other originals. He did most of the heavy lifting, but hey, it happened!
Exercise: 500 Miles. While the miles could be anything (elliptical/biking/running/etc.) I quickly realized that biking was my favorite. It led to a day of Ragbrai—a long time goal of mine—and I was so glad for the opportunity! I kept a tally on the fridge and hit 500 miles even without the 85 at Ragbrai. I’ll admit to losing count after 500, but it did happen. Not to mention, I really got into the habit of going to some fun classes like Zumba or weight lifting and that didn’t count towards anything. Extra bonus: the hubby got into it too and we got to spend plenty of weekends biking around town together.
Spiritual: Bible reading. Alright.This happened but not to the extent that I wanted it to or would like it to. I’d try and commit to a book of the Bible and then get distracted or find excuses. So, this was not one I’m checking off the list, but one I will pray to be better at. In high school I made the resolution on year to read my Bible every day—and I did it too. But I noticed then that it became something I did out of obligation. This year I’m praying to find the right balance. I want it to be part of my daily life but I also want it to be real and focused.
Cleaning: Purge all things not wanted in a potential move. Yes, this was a goal well before we knew we were moving. We knew we wanted to move but had no idea if it would be in 2 months or 10 years. So can I get some credit for moving? Yeah! We did do some major purging, or so I thought before we moved. And then we got here and said, we need to do that again (the purging part). So this is a little like the last one—it’s moving forward and I’d say it happened but it’s a work in progress. This week I’m hoping to do some major clearing out of our closets.
Photography: Build a portfolio. I’m still figuring out what part photography will play in my life. At one point I loved it. And then I found myself inhibited by my own fears and expectations. Is it something I should really pursue? Do I like it as a business opportunity or just as a hobby? I did do a family shoot in 2012 and am considering what to do with it this year.
Food: 1. A week-long juice and raw foods fast. 2. Go two weeks without chocolate or sweets. This happened! I did the raw diet. It was tough but did help. I learned later though that the juice should be more veggie based than fruit to be really effective and also that it takes a while for your stomach to adjust. I did notice that during the weeks I went without chocolate/sweets I felt good. I’ll probably try to do short-term detoxes again but let’s be real, I have a sweet tooth and the idea of cutting more out of my diet permanently is just a little rough.
Just kidding. We know the answer to at least some of those questions. Why are we moving? Well, a number of reasons. Here’s the quick bullet list:
It’s time for a change
We love that part of the country
We have no dependents, no debt and no mortgage tying us down
We want to establish ourselves as a married couple in a whole new place
Hubby wants to go back to school
We’ll be closer to some family (but farther from other family…)*
We’re ready for some adventure
*Let me touch real quick on the “closer to family” bit. We are excited to live closer to a nephew and niece and sister and brother-in-law. We are sad however to leave some wonderful family right here. That said, we feel this is where we should go now and are grateful that family will still be a part of that new location. By no means does this mean we are picking certain family over other family.
Okay, so, “why now?” Well, several reasons have contributed to that. We’ve been talking for quite some time about making this sort of move soon, but have waited for the right moment. Some might think going job-less is not exactly the right moment, but we’ll see. I mentioned the no dependents and whatnot – this is significant to us. We’re not sure how long we’ll be in a place in life that provides the flexibility we have now and don’t want to pass that up. We’re also feeling brave (dumb?) enough to do it. The past two years of being married we’ve been right were we should be. It wasn’t time to go between my poor health and the good opportunities we had at our jobs. Well, my health has improved significantly and due to some recent changes in the workplace, it seems apparent that now is a great time to go. More to come on all of the above, but that’s the quick list.