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Pack Light. Pack Lighter! Lighter!!

packed suitcase

One carry on bag plus daypack. That's it for 3 months!

If there's one thing that every single travel guidebook mentions over and over is to PACK LIGHT!  Pack the bare minimum and leave half of that behind.  And really scrutinize the half you keep to see if you can take more weight off.

There's something to that, you know.

Our last "Big Trip" was two weeks to Vancouver, Seattle and Victoria in 2014 and that was a dry run on the whole "carry everything on your back" approach.  We borrowed travel packs that Ben and his buddies had taken to Europe.  Filled them to bursting, checked them at the airport, then swore every time we had to take the pack from the plane/train/ferry to our hostel.  It was brutal.

This trip is much longer and we're going to visit many more places.  And that means more days lugging our packs.  I don't want to say 'lugging', even once.

So, here's the plan:

  • One carry on sized, wheeled travel pack per person.
  • One light day bag.
  • Minimal, easy to wash, quick to dry clothes
  • Very little paper (my books and journals often weigh more than my clothes!
  • 10kg (22lb) limit per person. 9kg is better.

The weight limit is really important. There will be days we'll need to carry all our stuff and hey, I'm not 20 anymore.  10kg is half a bag of flour so I should be able to carry that without too much grumbling.

suitcase contents, all laid out

All the stuff. I still wish it was a little less.

Bag: Last year I invested in a really good carry-on sized wheeled backpack, the Osprey Meridian, based on the recommendation of the very smart owner of Robertson Outdoor Store in Victoria.  She travels the world, from Poland to Peru and the Meridian is the only bag she takes.

One cool feature is the Meridian comes with a zip off daypack.  When the daypack is off, the big bag meets carry-on restrictions.  Zipped on, I can wheel or carry everything in one streamlined unit.

I've taken a few small trips with my Meridian and it's a dream as a wheeled bag.  This will be the first trip where I use it as a backpack too; I'm curious to see the proportion of wheeled use vs. backpack use.

Clothes: I'm really trying to conserve weight here.  Lightweight pants, 3 shirts, socks and underwear, 1 pair shorts and 1 pair swim trunks.  A fleece and a raincoat.  Shoes and sandals.  We're going in spring so thankfully won't have to carry a heavy coat and mitts, etc.

Electronics: The splurge (money and weight) is my iPad and keyboard setup.  I've got travel guides and maps pre-loaded, plus I can blog on the road and FaceTime home too.  It's worth the weight.  Lots of cables and electrical adapters making the trip too, though.

Cindy's carrying her point and shoot camera.  We've got an adapter to hook the camera up to the iPad so we can share pictures from the road.

Paper: I can't get to zero, but I am being strict here.  Two bundles of Field Notes books for journalling/lists, a watercolour sketchbook, a travelling paint set, pens, pencils and brushes.  I am extremely tempted to take a second sketchbook but will fill the first one and buy another instead!

Cindy made her own travel guide / journal from the pile of guidebooks we borrowed from the library and is still holding out hope that Patrick Rothfuss finally publishes his new novel before we get to Paris.

Other Bits: I'm banking on Europeans shaving and brushing their teeth, so am taking minimal toiletries.  I'll buy more when I run out.  And we always seem to collect plastic cutlery, etc. when we picnic, so I'll get a spork for the next adventure.  A lightweight pack towel was my only splurge here.

And it wouldn't be a Mark and Cin trip without our Gin Rummy book and a deck of cards.  We've had a running game going since 1990 or so.  :)

That's it.  It all fits in the carry-on bag with lots of room to spare.  But hows the weight?

Total Weight

Mark's bag: 23lbs (10.4kg) Argh.  Too many Field Notes?  Too many socks? That iPad+Keyboard put me over the limit a touch.

Cindy's bag: 21lbs (9.5kg) Pretty darn good.  She can carry the toiletry bag.

Time will tell.  If we're carrying the packs a lot and it's too much, we can either chuck some stuff, mail it home, or get in better shape...