You Have 80 Liters. What Would You Take?

It's now less than a month until Dan and I fly away for a year of travel. We're making a lot of progress towards getting ready, but probably not as much as we should be. I'm a pretty easy problem to solve - when I moved to the UK in the autumn of 2008, I brought two suitcases and a file box. In the year and a half since then, I've accumulated a bit of stuff, but it's pretty manageable. Dan, on the other hand, has decades and decades of things and, being a collector and a musician, he doesn't just have books and DVDs. We're talking typewriters, drum kits, musical equipment galore, a collection of antique video game consoles... There's been a lot of progress, but no matter how much we get rid of, store or sell,  occasionally it still feels like we're buried under a mountain of things. We'll have to hold on to some of it until the very last minute because we can't really do without a bed, or kitchen utensils for the next four weeks.

On Saturday, we made a monumental decision about how much luggage we will take with us on the grand voyage. Initially, we were talking about one large suitcase on wheels each, plus an additional (and substantial) carry-on bag each. With each passing week, as we've lugged and cleaned and carted things around, I think we've both gotten a bit more realistic about how much of a pain a huge amount of heavy luggage would be. It would be fine to wheel around heavy bags through the streets of Canada and America, but when we started imagining the dusty rounds of the small Mexican town we're staying in, the inevitable long, squished bus rides of South East Asia or even the narrow, crowded streets of Tokyo, the lure of hauling around all that stuff began to look pretty unappealing.

So the decision - instead of carting around suitcases, we will each have an 80 liter backpack plus one manageable piece of carry-on luggage. To seal the deal, on Saturday we went to Covent Garden and I picked up an Osprey Women's backpack (on sale!) to compliment the one Dan already has (why can't these practical things be prettier?!).

One of my most important tasks over the next four weeks will be to decide what I am going to bring with me. Luckily, we are open to buying things as we travel when we need them so, when we get to Japan in October, we'll be picking up winter jackets and other bits and pieces as required as opposed to carrying them around for six months. Even so, editing our stuff down will be a gigantic challenge.

Over the last two years, I've gone from being a girl with a house full of stuff, to one who, in less than a month, will be able to fit most of her worldly belongings into an 80 liter space. Wow! Trading my all my frocks and shoes for the world - a pretty good bargain really. 

If you had only an 80 liter pack, what would you take with you?

Snail image by Quacktaculous.

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Unknown said...

A sharp knife - because you will always need it - trust me.
A little string - you would be surprised at how many places make it impossible to find string.
A small sewing kit.
A flashlight (headlamps are the best) and an ipod or MP3 player.
Remember - books are the most uncomfortable thing to travel with (well not as bad as a surfboard) so be picky.
Good luck.


Anonymous said...

As someone who recently stuffed their life into a 70 liter pack, I feel your pain. However, whereas you've given yourself almost a month to pack, I gave myself less than a week, so you're in considerably better standing.

Make sure you get travel towels! And make sure their made of polyester, the cotton ones will make your room and pack stink after a couple uses. Hostel travel sheets are also something to consider as you may find yourself wanting them in situations where the room you booked is less clean than pictured on the internet (there was one room we stayed in here that had some kind of jizz-like substance permanently encrusted on the sheets! Gross!). One thing you may want to consider packing, if you're a coffee drinker, is a small, one-cup french press or something to that effect. Bec and I purchased one a week or so after we got here and we use it all the time. The sharp knife is a must as well as a sewing kit, and cards or a travel game. Oh, and appropriate locks for all your luggage and computers, I've already met a couple people staying in hostels that have had their laptops stolen. Be careful about that.

Safe Traveling,


Amy said...

@Vanessa - very good and practical advice. Even living in the UK, I've learned not to assume that everything easily available in Canada is accessible here and that must multiply times a thousand in truly different countries. I'll update you on my knife, string and flashlight buying.

@anonymous - Yeah, I have about four weeks but that doesn't mean I'll use them wisely unfortunately. It's funny, when I romanticize traveling the world, I omit the dirty bed jizz from the fantasy :) Good advice though - rather hear it now and be prepared than wander into it and have to sleep on those dirty sheets!

brette gabel said...

i started using those lush shampoo bars for everything when i traveled. i washed my underwear in the sink with them, i used them for soap and shampoo and as hand soap. one bar to clean it all. i also pack less socks and underwear than most people because i wash mine in the sink and either let them dry out over night or use a hand air dryer in a public washroom to dry them.. gross I know but it works. with one bar of soap and only three or four pairs of socks and underwear i have way more room in my bag for things that matter.
I'm also a huge skid. i also recommend getting a leather man instead of a knife...

Amy said...

@Brette - I'll have to look into the Lush - I'm all for things that do a bunch of jobs. And really, it's all really just soap, right?

What's a leather man??!!

brette gabel said...

a leatherman is a really great multi tool knife. they have everything you need on them.

Amy said...

Dude, that's hardcore! I want one. It's like a knife, but so much more!!