We spent last week in Austin recharging our batteries and making all the final preparations for the boat trip and beyond. The former involved spending time friends and family, eating out a lot, and going to Schlitterbahn Waterpark. The latter involved taking all the things we’d brought with us from San Francisco, laying it out on my parents living room floor, and slowly moving the things we were leaving behind to one side of the room and all the things we were bringing with us to the other. If only I had made a time-lapse video! My Dad found it so amusing that he’d just sit back and watch us sort through things, move things around, and add things to lists. It was a multi-day affair.
Once we could see all that we were bringing (or intending to bring), organized by rough categories on the floor, we realized we needed more packing cubes (specifically, Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Cubes). All of my clothes fit into a full-size cube and two half-size cubes (all double-sided), but I needed two more half-size cubes to hold all of my electronics and meds (without having loose ziplock bags floating around). Conveniently, all five cubes fit perfectly in my REI Vagabond pack. I also put two pouches (Eagle Creek’s Pack-It Sacs) in the pack’s top compartment for easy access to toiletries and first-aid. Stephanie has a similar configuration, but with one less half-size cube to make room for a pair of sandals, and one less pouch to make room for a glasses/sunglasses case. Then on top of everything we each have a laptop.
I’m probably going to sound like a clean-freak, but organizing (and procuring) our toiletries was probably one of the most challenging things to prepare. When I normally travel, I usually just throw everything into a large ziplock bag and hope I haven’t forgotten anything. But since we’re going to be living out of our bags for an extended period of time, I knew I had to optimize our toiletries and medicines both by context and frequency of use—so that I wasn’t constantly digging for a nailclipper at the bottom of an over-stuffed ziplock bag. Of course there were some things we each needed a “copy” of (marked x2 below), and there were some things one of us could carry for the both. Here’s a rough outline of what I came up with:
- Frequently Used Toiletries (x2)
This is all the stuff we each want to have at a moment’s notice, before bed or in the morning (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, deoderant, nailclipper, face wash, ear plugs, lotion, razor, etc.). It’s all in a small pouch that’s easily accessible at the top of our packs.
- Shower Toiletries (x1)
These are the few things we need if we’re going to take a shower (e.g. shampoo, body wash, cotton swabs). They’re in a small ziplock bag in one of the packing cubes. Since we’ll be taking a shower once a day (or less!), it made sense to keep this separate from the frequently used toiletries, and shared between the two of us.
- First Aid (x1)
This stuff (e.g. bandages, laxatives, anti-diarrheal, hydrocortisone, etc.) is less frequently used than our normal toiletries, but more than medications. We put it all into a single pouch because we wanted it to be easy to grab and stash in a daypack for hikes.
- Medications (x2)
These are not that frequently used (e.g. antibiotics, anti-malarials, motion sickness, pain meds etc), so we’ve put them in a ziplock bag, and they take up about half of a half-cube.
- Outdoor Toiletries (x2)
Just sunscreen and bug spray. These are in a ziplock bag in one of the pack’s side pockets for easy access, without weighing down any of the other bags.
- Backup Toiletries (x1)
Finally, these are lightweight bulk items like tissues, earplugs, cotton swabs, and anything we might pick up in slightly larger quantities and transfer to our frequently used toiletries as needed. In the meantime, it’s in a ziplock bag in one of our packing cubes.