The Pack List

Quandary: Eight months + ten countries + three seasons + one backpack = What to wear?

No rtw blog would be complete without the infamous packing list.  It serves as a resource for those other brave souls who climb on the rtw bus after us.  It is meticulously curated to ensure pragmatic efficiency.  Fashion, sadly, takes a subservient role.

I’ve combed rtw blogs for months hungry for packing lists.  The most useful of all was at http://www.answeringoliver.com/2012/02/my-rtw-packing-list.html and you’ll see that my list closely resembles Devon’s.

As our 10-day countdown begins, here’s what we are packing:

Clothing (Rachel’s list – kids & DH are similar)

  • Hats (one baseball & one newsboy)
  • Ex-Officio BugsAway Pant (to keep Dengue fever, malaria & Japanese encephalitis at bay!)
  • Ex-Officio BugsAway Hoody
  • Ex-Officio BugsAway Tee
  • Shorts (1)
  • Capris Pants (2)
  • Belt
  • Quick Drying Dress (1)
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Tank Tops (2)
  • Sports Bras & Regular Bra
  • Quick Drying Undies
  • Quick Drying Socks
  • Bathing Suit (1)
  • Keen Trail Shoes
  • Teva Sandals
  • Patagonia Fleece Pullover
  • Patagonia Rain Shell
  • Buffs (2)
  • Scarf & necklace (my limited bling)
Eight months of clothes?

Eight months of clothes?

Compression Bag = Magic!

Compression Bag = Magic!

No heels in sight.

No heels in sight.

When a duff becomes the bling.

When a buff becomes the bling.

Electronics

  • iPhone (unlocked)
  • iPad
  • Kindle
  • Assorted Chargers (not shown)
  • Anker External Battery
  • Headphones& Splitter
  • Digital Camera (not shown because I used it to take this pic!)
  • Outlet Converter
  • Headlamp

IMG_0477

Other

  • Doorstop (helps secure doors from the inside if we end up at a sketchy guesthouse)
  • Silk Sleep Sack
  • Point It Dictionary
  • Cheap Sunglasses (I expect to lose them so nice glasses will stay at home!)
  • Carabineers
  • Sewing Kit
  • Clothesline
  • Portable Laundry Soap
  • Portable Fan
  • Ear Plugs & Sleep Masks
  • Duct Tape
  • Barf Bags (I know my family well)
  • Security Belt
  • Baggallini Triple Zip Bag (small bag that attaches to my belt — telling myself its NOT a fanny pack)
  • Instant Cold Towel (Loews)
Travel necessity: mustache duct tape

Travel necessity: mustache duct tape

Medical

  • Malaria Pills
  • Ciprofloxacin (traveler’s diarrhea – fun!)
  • Azithromycin (same as above – hope we don’t need both!)
  • Imodium & Pepto Pills
  • Acetazolamide (altitude sickness)
  • Advil
  • Allegra Allergy Pills
  • Benedryl
  • Epipen
  • Bug Spray w/Deet
  • Neosprin
  • Band-aids
  • Moleskin
  • Antibiotic Wipes & Gel
  • Kleenex
  • First Aid Kit

IMG_0419

Toiletries

  • Mini shampoo / conditioner (purchase upon arrival)
  • Body Wash
  • Face Lotion w/Sunscreen
  • Sunscreen (purchase upon arrival)
  • Hairbrush
  • Headbands
  • Wet Wipes
  • Body Lotion (purchase upon arrival)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Blistex
  • Nail Clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Deodorant
  • Razor

Homeschool

  • Singapore Math 7th & 8th Grade Curriculum
  • Two Graph Paper Notebooks
  • Writing Workshop Lesson Plan Loaded on Ipad
  • Two Writing Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Sharpener
  • Calculator
  • Kindle App Loaded with Fiction & Non-Fiction Books
  • Kids Ipads Fitted with Keyboards & Loaded with QuickOffice
Traveling classroom

Traveling classroom

Documents

  • Passports
  • Immunization Records
  • 2 Sets of Photocopies of the above plus copies of birth certificates, drivers licenses, marriage certificate, health insurance coverage
  • Health Cards
  • Credit and Bank Cards (Capital One Venture Card has no foreign transaction fees)
  • Itinerary & Travel Notes
  • Notebooks of Different Sizes (for journaling & jotting down travel notes)
  • Much of the Above Scanned on iPad

What I Am not Bringing that I will Miss

  • Flat Iron (high maintenance, I know, but I’m just being honest!)
  • Jeans (I live in my jeans but they are too bulky for the trip)
  • FitFlops (DH will be so glad not to see these for 8 months)
  • MacBook Pro (despite much advice from seasoned travelers, I’m only taking my iPad – lugging my 13” MacBook across continents flies in the face of simplification, so I am leaving it in Seattle & hope not to regret it)

I should note that we’ve packed a box of winter clothes to be sent to meet us in Germany.  Now if only it all goes as planned…as I appreciate we won’t really know what we needed and what we could have left behind until we’re actually on the road!

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What We’re Leaving

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Seattle on a sunny day is a beautiful thing. Sparkling blue seas dotted with steadily gliding ferry boats. Immense craggy mountain ranges topped with snow on nearly every horizon. An expanse of the expected evergreen trees and an unexpected vast variation of green plants, bushes, grass create balance bordering the blue skies and seas.

We live in an admittedly liberal oasis, sometimes forgetting that there’s a significant part of our country that bleeds red. Our beach community is involved and idyllic with sweet surprises, like yarn “bombed” trees, and children and adults alike who stop to pet our dog. A neighborhood blog keeps tabs on all news, big and small, and makes us feel more united. The local elementary school our children attend has high parental involvement and the afternoon pick-up feels like social hour…I half expect to see a parent sipping out of a martini glass as they chat.

A year ago, we purchased and moved into my grandparents home, after painstakingly remodeling it, and its bones provide the deepest serenity…its history a foundation for our family to grow from.

So why leave? Today it’s 77 degrees in Seattle, I paddle boarded in Elliott Bay, meditating on each wave as it undulated toward me. It’s tempting to say, “Heck, let’s stay here…I could do this self-care thing for an entire year.” How decadent.

And that’s exactly it…it’s time for less decadence and more simplicity. When your child asks you to purchase Italian Soda for yet another school celebration and then complains that you purchased the wrong brand…your household is in need of a global reality check.

We cash that check on September 1st.

My New Favorite Book

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If life demanded little of me, I’d spend it reading. On the couch, pile of books at my side, pillows properly fluffed and propped, my body wrapped in a pink snuggie. Ok, maybe lose the snuggie.

A colleague and friend gifted Book Lust To Go to me in light of the impending rtw trip.  It’s written by Nancy Pearl, a beloved Seattle librarian, and the book details recommended reading for global destinations A-Z. Its like candy.

I quickly started in the A section and ordered Adrift from the library – a true story of a man lost at sea for 76 days. I learned all about sea turtle blood enemas — serious knowledge that I’m sure will help me in my next ship wreck. (Facts we generally don’t need to know…sea turtle blood would help quench your unrelenting thirst but it’s poisonous so you need to intake it in a non-traditional manner. I’m considering adding an enema kit to our rtw trip pack list.)

The 2nd book read was A Voyage for Madmen, which chronicles nine sailors who set off individually in a race around the world — only one crosses the finish line.

A theme seems to be developing.

I caught up with a good friend yesterday who is taking two years out of the rat race to live on a boat sailing with her family in the Caribbean and of course I couldn’t keep my mouth shut about these books. I was exactly like that co-worker who tells you their birthing horror stories when you’re 8 months pregnant. Open mouth, insert…snuggie.

Thankfully, my friends are forgiving. Book Lust To Go is such a great gift and I’m looking forward to making my way through the recommended reading from my couch as well as all those couches we encounter on our trip around the world.

Shedding a New Skin

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A year off work is a gift and a luxury.

Think how I’d feel if the year had passed and all I had to show for it was a clean house and being caught up on Netflix.  I’m cognizant not to fritter away this precious time.

The rtw trip is clearly a large part of the gift of a year, however I have 3-1/2 months before lift off.  My goals:

  • Family & friend connection
  • Digital detox (yeah, I’m not quite sure how to write a blog AND have a digital detox)
  • Creative recovery…

…you can be in business and be creative and I’ve been lucky that most of my corporate roles have been about building from scratch or rebuilding…creativity abound.  However if you’re an “all-in” type of person, you can’t give it to work and give it outside of work.  It’s now time for my OWN creative recovery.  What does this look like?  Writing morning pages (3 hand-written semi-conscious pages every morning); walking, running or hiking in nature every day; and…prepare yourselves…Bollywood dance class.  Yes, really.

I can feel these simple steps…already applied…opening up my core.  And it feels …amazing.

One Way to Tokyo…Konnichiwa My Friends!

left turn

I expected some left turns along the way however I didn’t expect them BEFORE we hit the road.  RTW families consistently gave me the advice to travel slow and to not over plan.  I had this nagging feeling that I was failing at both…and I was.

I had every day of our four months in Japan and SE Asia planned and the pace of an average stay was five nights in each location…too brief to get a handle on and appreciation for our surroundings.

Part of slowing down is listening to your gut and last night I canceled all of our SE Asia accommodations.  Tonight, instead of purchasing the planned Global Explorer rtw tickets, I purchased four one way tickets to Tokyo.

I feel liberated!  And grateful that with life starting to slow down, I can hear myself again.

The Dog

This is Mickey.

Mickey Fall 09 008

This is Mickey as a puppy.

Copy of IMG_3851

I can hear you saying “ahhhh.”  Do you see our dilemma?

Mickey’s a part of our family and, yes, we are attached.  When I kneel down to pet him, he puts a paw on my shoulder, claiming ownership. Sean says that while we may think Mickey returns our love, the dog is simply invested in us because we invest in him with food and play.  Wah wah.

A common question we hear about this trip is “what are you doing with your house and dog?”  We debated many options with the house:

  • Trade it?  Too cumbersome. And surprisingly grey Seattle is not a top destination on home trading sites.
  • Rent it?  Eight months is an odd space of time to rent and the thought of packing everything up when we moved in less than a year ago was numbing.
  • Sit it?  Yes!  Ultimately we decided we needed a house sitter to stay in our house, taking care of it and Mickey.  That person ended up being a younger brother – it works out for both parties.

AND, he can send us Mickey updates while we’re on the road.  So when we hear the dog put his paw on my brother’s shoulder, I’ll know it’s all about the kibble n bits.

How Lucky Are We?

VikingNatures

Here are two reviews of the Viking Natures Resort on Phi Phi Island in Thailand:

 “An idyllic hide-away with stunning views and clean, comfortable rooms”

 “DO NOT STAY HERE! Worst hotel I’ve ever been to”

One picture shows a beautiful beach with turquoise water and the next picture shows the same beach with trash strewn across it.  viking-natures-resort

Will the real Phi Phi Island please stand up?

The fire hose of online information is a mixed blessing.  Frankly, it was reading other rtw family blogs that encouraged me to believe that we could do this trip.  On the other hand, when 8 out of 10 people say that they didn’t appreciate Vietnam, should I consider taking that country off the list?  Information paralysis!

One family blog, http://away-together.com/, has the motto of no regrets.  I find this to be a wise stance.  In eight months of travel, there will be places, people and experiences that make our hearts expand with gratitude and joy.  And of course there will be times when we are let down and uninspired.  Regardless, whether we love every destination or not, we’ll learn from it and that learning will inform the rest of our lives.  So, in good times or in bad, with too much information or too little, I ask, how lucky are we?

In fact, I think that’s going to be our motto, how lucky are we?

Orville & No Name

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Here are the kids getting fitted in their packs.  Julia has named hers Orville.  Hmmm.  Kid’s got an itch for popcorn.  Sean chose not to name his because “boys don’t name things.”  O-k-a-y.  They think this is fun now because the packs are not filled with 30lbs as we trek in 90 degree heat through Northern Vietnam.  The kids were given an option to pick patches to distinguish their packs.  Julia picked a brittany spaniel Mickey-look-alike patch and a Valkyrie patch (a female warrior AND the name of her soccer team).  Sean chose not to pick a patch because “boys don’t do that.”  What a shame he wasn’t wearing his scouts shirt with a dozen or so  patches on it when he told me that.  I could have looked at him cross-eyed.

Bring on the Japanese Encephalitis

A colleague I admire recently did a spot on re-enactment of Seinfeld’s car rental reservation bit.  So I had Seinfeld on the mind when I called the Public Health Travel Clinic.  I had first consulted the CDC’s website to determine immunization recommendations.  If you at all wary about international travel, the CDC website is sure to keep you grounded.  I expected the need to vaccinate against malaria but Japanese encephalitis?  What is that?  It conjures John Hurt in The Elephant Man movie exclaiming “I…am…not…an animal. I…am human!”

The state Public Health Travel Clinic provides an assessment of what immunizations are needed and then provides the shots.  Easy, right?  I call.

PHTC: “I just need to let you know that there’s a $120 charge for the assessment.”

Me: Oh, ok, makes sense, the government needs to cover their costs.  So I explain that I’ll be bringing my husband and two kids.

PHTC: “Ok, so we’ll make four appointments and it will be $120 per family member.”

Me: “Hmmm, we really only need one assessment – there’s four of us and we’re all going to the same places.”

PHTC: “Yes, I understand but we do an assessment for each person.”

ME: “Hmmm.  But wouldn’t the assessment be the same for the four of us?”

PHTC: “As I said, each assessment must be a separate appointment and each appointment costs $120.”

ME: “Ok, well we really only need one assessment, so once I have that assessment, can my family get their shots?”

PHTC: “You can only get shots if you each have had an assessment.”

Understand these shots will cost mucho dinero anyway so to pile on a $480 for four identical assessments just seems wrong.

Aug 17 immunization update: Kroger pharmacies have a travel clinic. In the Seattle area, the Kroger brand is QFC.  Yushi Li is one of the two travel clinic specialists in the Seattle area.  She met us at our local QFC for the initial consultation and follow up visits for the vaccines.  I can’t say enough good things about this service — Yushi was extremely thorough, she came to our neighborhood & the cost was a FRACTION of the other local travel clinic options.   Definitely use this resource: http://www.qfc.com/pharmacy/Pages/travel_info.aspx.

BTW, Julia did her 1st grade science fair project on which band-aid was the best value for the money, so no assessment needed on which to use post-shots…tough strips!

future rocket scientist

future rocket scientist

Siblings: Friends or Foes?

How are you really feeling? (by S&J's memere)

How are you really feeling? (by S&J’s memere)

Somewhere along the way, S & J — who shared my belly and then a crib for months on end, who shared a room and were best playmates for years – somewhere along the way, they fell into sibling stereotypes.  The annoying brother and the “oh please, I’m so much more mature” sister.  It seems they only forget the parts they are playing and become buds again when just the four of us are on vacation together.  They let their roles slip away and become each other’s playmate once again.

I have no illusions…there will be times on the road when all four of us are foes.  However, here’s hoping to many more times building a strong friendship and mutually respect for each other.