Friday, September 3, 2010

Packing

Only 11 days until Ania and I leave and we still have almost no plans. Perfect! However, our philosophy only goes so far as we do need to pack at some point. And after moving out of our beautiful Annex apartment on Monday, packing is definitely on the brain. From living together, moving together and now packing to travel together, we have realized that our styles are very different. To give you a taste, here are our individual attitudes and plans towards packing for our No Plan trip:

What is your general approach to pharmaceuticals and health-related items?

Ange: I'm the most medicated and stocked up on prescriptions, namely malaria pills. After being sent home from Guatemala due to illness in 2008 and spending two long weeks in the healthcare system, I have no desire to be treated in non-Canadian hospitals or be flown back. My insurance information will be on me at all times. That being said, I don't want to lug around a huge first aid kit. Polysporin (after a sepsis incident this year where I had an IV for 4 days, I will never be without this stuff again!) and bandaids are it for this traveller!

Ania: - unprepared as per usual. Although we will be at low risk, I decided I will be more comfortable getting my Japanese Encephalitis shot a little too late. Luckily, they are in larger (and much cheaper) supply in Asia so I will be having some clinic adventures when I am there. First aid kit: the basics + any bug bite/skin post sunburn ointment available as I have terrily sensitive skin. And the miracle drug: cipro! Oh, and also at least 8 months worth of contact lense solution, urgh. Unfortunately, I also have sensitive eyes.

T: Let me tell you a little thing about maintaining a strong immune system. 3 words: Lake Erie Fish. A plentiful diet of Lake Erie fish when you’re young builds up all the immunities you need for a strong and resistant system when you’re older. And for all other ailments that come up, a three month supply of grandma’s cream should do it :) (Ange's note: T is bringing the biggest first aid kit of us all. Don't let her fool you. Including syringes.) (T's note: I bought that kit for Africa not knowing what the facilities would be like there, the only reason I'm bringing it is so that I can give it away to some medical organization in the Philippines as they can no doubt benefit from extra medical supplies. Thus, I stick with my original statement) (Ania's note: this is proof Tiana is an overpacker).

As we are all generally nerds coming from the IDS co-op program at the University of Toronto, it is a given there will be nerdy items involved. What nerdy items are you tossing in your bag?

I'm bringing my laptop, which is fairly large (15.5 inches) but will allow me to post blog entries, work on articles and research different areas and topics more easily. Plus, I hate it so if it dies/is stolen/has Asahi beer spilled all over it, I'll get over it. I'm tossing in Wendy Smith's "Give a Little" and a less development-nerdy copy of a book of short stories by Canadian women. Hopefully those will take me through to the nearest hostel book exchange.

I have an empty notebook I plan on filling with interesting things. Still thinking of buying a guidebook but I find once I have one I'm too overreliant on them. They are really useful to get from point A to point B, however. Like Ange, I'm going to bring a couple of books to exchange, if mom is willing to part with them. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has been all the rage, one of my all-time favorites, "The Catcher in the Rye"....Oh yeah, and also approximately 20 LSAT study books. sigh.

Anyone who knows me will know that I keep it G, which leaves little room for nerdiness. But to fill in that little nerd space that does exist, I shall bring a backpacking travel guide to offer us some solutions when we actually want to make plans during our no plan trip

The big stuff: What is your plan for clothes and towel items?

I am bringing almost nothing. My sarong will serve as a skirt, dress, towel and who knows what else. I am bringing a jacket with a zip-off fleece vest for when we're trekking higher in the mountains. I'm playing it safe so I will have my shoulders and knees covered by the few things I'm bringing and I can figure it out when I get there.

5 days worth of clothing max. I also invested in a good rain jacket and some hiking clothes. And of course, padded biking shorts! I also bought a light-weight, quick dry towel. Synthetic sweater that won't retain sweat and this will keep me warm! I'm not planning on packing much but I also don't shy away from spending money on a couple of key items I think will be really useful.

I am not a light packer, but I am inspired to pack light by the fact that Asia has some of the nicest and cheapest fashions, so I think I will try harder to pack light so that there’s some room for a few purchases along the way.

There are three major items for backpackers that seem to be most controversial: hiking boots, sleeping bags and MP3 players. Your approach?

I am almost certain I will bring my hiking boots, mainly because hiking is what I am looking forward to the most. They are heavy and take up space but, as with the laptop, I think it's a fair trade off when I'm bringing almost nothing else. I will not be bringing a sleeping bag. I have a 100% silk sheet to keep the bugs out and my skin off well-used surfaces. It folds up to the size of my fist! I don't even have an MP3 player in Canada. I think they're antisocial and Ania's drunken karaoke is all the music I need.

Oh the sleeping bag debate. I'm just going to say, it is the only item I absolutely wished I had with me when I backpacked Central America. I sleep better with some weight on me anyways. Plus, while the girls will be freezing on top of a mountain after a hike, guess who will be all cosy and dry? (Ange's note: T and I will be having a fun cuddle party that she will be jealous of. Just you wait, Ania!) Also, I am conscious of the fact that we will be progressively making our way north and it'll gradually get colder. It's something I prefer to have than not and I think it's worth the extra backpack space. After careful consideration, I don't know if I'm bringing my hiking boots, haha. I think it'll be a last minute decision based on how heavy my backpack ends up being. Although if I don't have them I know my shins and my feet will suffer.

Here are my thoughts on these so called ‘controversial backpacking items’. I don’t feel like carrying the extra weight of hiking boots, so I’m going to scrap that idea and will stick it out with runners. I will definitely have an mp3 player because I can’t live in silence. And I’m undecided about bringing a sleeping bag or a sheet, but I’ll figure it out when the time comes. It’ll probably depend on how much space I’ll have left.

And just to cause a bit of drama before we even leave the continent, what is your opinion of the others' packing styles?

Leaving, Ania will have the most stuff. She went all out at MEC for the fancy hoodie, quick dry towels, sleeping bag, quick dry shirt, bike shorts…I don't even know. But she's also the most experienced at backpacking solo so she knows what she needs.

T likes to have a lot of clothing, so I'm not sure how she'll be able to minimize for the trip. It will be interesting to see if she can do it! Coming back, T will absolutely, without a doubt, have the most stuff. She'll be on the trip for one month less than the A's but she cannot pass up a good deal and loves to buy gifts. Plus, she is very strong and can carry a lot without complaining.

Tiana: generally an overpacker. I wouldn't be surprised if she sneaked in a tub of peanut butter along with her things. I am thus surprised by her decision to ditch her sleeping bag in Canada

Ange: a total minimalist. She can and she will deal with problems as they arise but in the meantime would prefer a light load :)

Ange: she’ll pack the lightest, perfect as for the extra space I may need when I decide to buy a large beautifully hand crafted decorative sail boat in Vietnam.

Ania: There is a constant debate about whether she or I are the heaviest packer. I maintain the fact that I am the lighter packer of the two, but tend to come back with more stuff then I left with, so I guess we both win.

Stay tuned, next week our respective parents will be weighing in on their thoughts on our trip, predictions and advice in the first video blog entry of the No Plan Plans blog!

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