What I Packed

My sister is still in shock that I’ll live on 1/2 a suitcase of clothes for the next year of my life.

I have to say, I’m not too surprised at her shock.  She calls my style preppy/hippie for a good reason – I love my style and I embrace it fully, I like to clothes shop and anybody who knows me knows that I don’t play when it comes to my kickass shoes.

But let’s be real – travel and a ton of “stuff” just don’t go together.  I mean, I had to consider airline baggage restrictions, right?  Actually, I had to consider way more than that to come to my 1/2 a suitcase.

Of course, the airline baggage restrictions are a huge deal.  Just to get to my final destination, I’ll be on 7 flights with 5 different airlines so I have to go with the least generous maximum baggage allowance – 1 free checked bag.  I’m not Miss Moneybags and I’m not paying to lug that ton of stuff to the other side of the world and back.

My next consideration was the fact that there’s no way I’m going to a region that’s so rich in textiles and fabrics and not buying at least a few pieces of clothes.  Thought of in that way, it wasn’t so hard to cut down on what I thought I needed to carry.  I added to that the fact that I’ll have to bring little mementos and things back for a few of my loved ones so space in my luggage for the return journey in a year is a must.

Finally, I thought about the practicality of my living and working situation.  A fancy wardrobe will definitely not be required, and as much as I am stylish, I’m just as much practical: I have zero desire to travel with a bunch of things that I’ll end up not using.  My 2-month, 3-continent, 5-country, 16-flight experience last summer taught me that.

With all these considerations in mind, it was time to decide what to put into my 1 checked bag. Well, I’m a black woman so I had to settle on my hair products first: 1 bottle each of my go-to shampoo and conditioner, 1 small tub each of my 2 favourite gels, and 1 tub of my must-have conditioning moisturizer.  That’s my hair sorted.

Now, what clothes to bring?  Well, this is a country that’s almost 90% Muslim so I feel safe in leaving the mini skirts and sleeveless blouses in Jamaica.  Modesty is the name of the game.  That’s no hardship for me so here we go…4 pairs of everyday pants, 8 tops, 1 black jersey dress and a pair of black tights (dressy outfit, check!) 2 pairs of exercise pants, 3 exercise t-shirts, 3 sleep shirts, 2 sports bras, 2 bras (I’m not giving you my underwear count) and 1 bathing suit (pretty sure I can get away with it in Bali).

Of course, I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, so I had to throw in a few extras that I won’t need in Indonesia: a warm fleece top, a pair of warm fleece pants, 1 set of thermal underwear (top and bottom), a rain jacket, 2 pairs of wool socks, a down jacket (packable – it rolls up so small!) and a pair of gloves.  As every resident of colder climes knows, layering is the name of the game so I’ll be layering my lighter Indonesia clothes with my heavier fleeces and thermals; additional clothes have been kept to an absolute minimum.

Ah, my shoes!  What to bring?  I’ll probably lose my shoe-diva card but here goes: 1 pair of flip flops, 1 pair of everyday sandals, 1 pair of “dressier” sandals (they’re not that much dressier), my Keds-style Payless sneakers (comfy for day-long walkabouts) and my trainers, cause I gotta get my exercise on in appropriate shoes.  And, of course, my hiking boots.  Oops! Don’t want to forget things like feminine products, insect repellant, nail clippers, my Bible and my prayer journal.

That all sounds like a lot, right?  It’s actually not, and it all fits into 1/2 a suitcase because it’s mostly light materials, plus I’m a champion packer.

So what’s in the other 1/2 of my checked bag?  Donations.  I’m going to a children’s charity that relies totally on the generosity of others; how can I go empty-handed?  I filled the other 1/2 of my suitcase with stuff that they need.  There are also 2 sets of bed sheets and bath towels and rags for my personal use that I’ll most likely leave there when it’s time for me to return.

That’s it.  That’s how I packed for this adventure.

Why do I still feel like I should be cutting down my stuff?

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