Friday, July 3, 2015

Packing for a month away

Off to Iceland for a month! And everything fits into a backpack and a daypack. Whew.

In packing, I had three guides: a Google search of “backpacking Europe,” the equipment list provided by the volunteer site, and my own travel experiences, such as my trip to Brazil. Packing was a bit more complicated than your typical backpacking-through-Europe gig, because I have to (a) bring camping equipment and (b) bring clothes I can do hard labor in AND not look like a total disaster in Reykjavik.

Camping equipment: The worksite equipment list had first priority. The site requires some camping equipment as well as more seriously outdoor gear than your average traveler would bring. This makes packing everything else difficult, as sleeping bags and steel-toed boots take up valuable space. I need the following camping equipment: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bag liner, microtowel, headlamp (basically, everything but a tent). You can see all of that in the photo above, with reference foot, excluding the headlamp and including a pillow. Anyone who says a pillow is a luxury is not a side-sleeper.

Shoes: Practically every website says to bring shower sandals (Havaianas: check) and only one pair of shoes, although many of you, they sigh, will insist on two pairs. The “for ladies”* lists say to bring a comfy pair of flats. This makes me choke on my tea: I’ve never met a pair of flats that didn’t rub against and eventually bleed open my feet. Then, as I encountered the phrase over and over, I began to think maybe I was a freak with unnatural ladyfeet. (Well, I probably am.) But my work site requires both steel-toed boots and boots suitable for hiking. I ended up packing a fourth pair of very small lace-up shoes on the excuse that I need something I can play capoeira in, after all. The fact that they are glittery played no part in my decision at all. Nope, none.

Outerwear: I’ll be working and living outdoors for two weeks. So: rain jacket, rain pants, Uniqlo down jacket (I can’t rave enough about these; they pack TINY). Hat, gloves, sunglasses.

Bottoms: Reasonably attractive hiking pants for trail work and excursions that won’t embarrass me in the city. One skirt, a flyweight Thai thing.

Tops: A couple of Ts (quick-drying), two SmartWool long-sleeves, and the love of my life, the perfect REI hoodie. If I could go back in time I’d buy five more of that hoodie. Note: All these tops, bottoms, and shoes are black or grey. Matching is not going to be a problem.

Etc. clothes: Socks and underwear. Pajamas. Swimsuit (for hot springs). Capoeira t-shirt. I debated bringing capoeira pants, as I’ll be training a few nights, but unlike the shirt they can’t be worn for any occasion. (The cord stays at home; taking up that much space to ensure people know my rank seems ego-driven.)

Toiletries: Minimalist.

Odds and ends: Camera, cell phone, thick book I don’t mind losing, journal, passport, wallet, pen, etc.

And that’s it! Let’s see how that gets me through a month - and how much I bring back with me.

* Many websites have two lists: “What to bring when backpacking Europe” and “What to bring when backpacking Europe (for women).” This totally ignores the genderqueer and men who like kilts, but people who can’t even see the problem with using the male as default/unmarked certainly haven’t considered trans/queer/etc. issues. But the short version of the female list is: Replace some pants with skirts, bring a cardigan, and your shirts probably won’t be button-down. I have to give a shout out to Rick Steves, who even though he is writing for your decidedly unhip, recently retired relatives, manages not to gender his list.

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