As many of you know, I’ve been on the struggle bus. I’ve had the Year of Eight Terrible Things. Not to dwell, but here’s my year in a nutshell:
- Our dog Rooster Died.
- I was diagnosed with severe chondral defects in my knee (so painful) and was told I would never run again.
- Our Dog Penny Died.
- My Cousin Ali Died.
- John & I were flattened by flu.
- John was in the hospital for a cardiac event.
- Our puppy Nutmeg was diagnosed with a terminal birth defect.
- I was in the hospital for meningitis.
So I’d like to turn this ship around. Literally.
In less than two weeks we are departing for a trip of a lifetime. We will spend a week in the Andes of Ecuador, hiking Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, and exploring the market in Otovalo, the Mindo cloud forest, and the historical center of Quito.
Then we will take a flight to the Galapagos Islands, where in a span of eight days we will visit six islands for hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and the most amazing wildlife viewing in the entire world. I can’t wait to see the place where Charles Darwin formulated many of his ideas about evolution. If you haven’t read On the Origin of Species in a while, please pick it up again. It’s hauntingly prescient. But also very sweet and smart.
So life is seriously looking up!
Except! For the fact that I did my first packing run-through, and I couldn’t get my items to fit. I’ve been traveling “ultra-light” for our past four trips with just a personal item and a carry-on roller, and though I am following all of my rules, I still had a large packing cube’s worth I could not stuff into my bags.
Internet to the rescue! I traded in my 21 inch with 4 roller wheels for a 22 inch with in-line wheels. This was enough to allow me to fit all my gear, including the massive DSLR with long lens. I was going to try to shoot on my iPhone, but I did several tests with each and could not recreate the clarity of my 200 mm lens. I am determined to get a great shot of a blue-footed booby!
Here are my top five rules for ultra-light packing:
- Leave the Vanity at Home: I travel with no makeup or jewelry. No fancy shoes or dresses or clothes. I take a “Travel Uniform.”
- Pack Leave-Behinds: I take items that need to be replaced anyhow, then shed as I go. I’ll be taking a pair of runners that will stay, a hat I don’t want any more, and clothing that has seen better days. That way I can donate my items, and fill my suitcase with goodies and gifts on the way home.
- Packing Cubes Are Clutch: Not only do they help you keep it organized, they also help compress your clothing and gear so that it fit in your bags.
- Remove Redundancy: No need for two pairs of black pants or two bright blouses. And pictures only capture the tops, so repeat the bottoms.
- Pack for Half: We always do laundry so we can pack as if we were staying only a week. It’s easy to find facilities or even to wash out items in the sink.