After many months of talking about a plan to fly off to SE Asia, we are finally committed. Not to a mental institution like some of you probably think, but to the trip itself. With my hands sweating as I plugged in the final digits of the credit card number and my eyes double-, triple- and quadruple-checking the date and destination, I ordered our tickets to SE Asia online. It was time to paint or get off the pot.
With a clear line in the sand, we started thinking of all of the things we need to accomplish before leaving for Malaysia; get the house ready to rent, figure out where to store things, get dental, eye and physical exams while we still have good insurance, get international health insurance… Let’s just say the list is really long and to look at it all at once is like staring at the sun. It could burn a hole right through the back of your head.
Hmmm, to carry-on or check our bags? We decided that we will be packing within the limits of carry-on and use our eBags Mother Lode Convertible bags. That way we have options and will be light and mobile. Now how long and what climates will we encounter? After a couple of months in SE Asia, we plan to fly to Europe and spend a few months. We can’t resist mountains, or scotch, so we will need warm clothing for the mountains and Scotland. Is this all going to fit? How often will we need to do laundry? How bored out of my skull am I going to be with the few climate appropriate shirts that I will have?
Let’s do a trial run and see what fits. How about pants first in Packing Cube #1. How hard can that be to figure out? Shorts for the beach, jeans for colder climes… and capris, because it seems Europeans don’t do the shorts thing… and dress pants, because Europe… and pajama bottoms, because hostels… and long underwear… Oh my.
Ok, for hot weather there are the shorts, convertible shorts and capris. For cold weather there are the jeans, convertibles and dress pants. For really cold weather the long undies can be added to the jeans or convertibles. Of course one item will be worn at any given time if I am observing most local customs. Maybe I can squeeze in my other pair of convertibles after all.
Well, that was an eye opener. Let’s do tops next in Packing Cube #2. A couple of turtlenecks, three t-shirts, two dressy shirts, a button-up short-sleeved shirt, a button-up long-sleeved shirt and a denim shirt. Bingo! Lots of layering and style options there. That was way easier than pants.
On to the unmentionables in Packing Cube #3. Remember in grade school someone asking you “Whatchya eating under there?” and you’d say “under where?”… I digress… and apologize… it wasn’t funny then either.
I’m going to pack six undies and, in theory, wear one for a total of seven. They are super tiny (too much info?) and can be washed in the shower and quickly dried. Since we will be hiking and walking a lot, I’m going with three pairs of long hiking socks, two pairs of short hiking socks and one pair of dress socks in case the hubby wants to take me out somewhere fancy. (Hint, hint, sweetie) I’ll also take two stop-em-from-floppin’s, a sports bra and two bathing suits, though I’m thinking one is probably sufficient.
Now for the bulky stuff; sweaters and outerwear. The hooded rain jacket and the down jacket are no-brainers. The mittens and hat are also shoe-ins. It seems there is room for two sweaters. Two?!!! I love sweaters. How am I suppose to pick only two??? Ok, settle down. Think it through. I’ll need an active sweater for hiking and a nicer sweater that can go hiking or to a restaurant. As of now, the light fleece and hooded wool sweater are on board and if a sweater from the Alps or somewhere happens along, I think we can make room.
I’ll wear my walking/hiking shoes when we fly and pack sandals and dress shoes. As a VinoHiker, I need my daypack for carrying wine and snacks and my wide-brimmed hat. Why am I not using the daypack as my second carry-on you ask? I prefer a sling style bag that is worn across my front for a couple of reasons. One, my large bag has backpack straps so I can wear it on my back. I’d have to wear the daypack backwards on my front. People do it and I have done it in the past, but it’s a bit awkward and looks goofy. The second reason I like the sling style bag is that I can put anything of value in it and be less concerned about theft than when using a daypack on my back. With the sling bag slung across my front I can wear it while on a long plane or bus ride where I might fall asleep and still feel secure. A daypack would either get stowed under the seat or up in the bin, both locations are favorites of nighttime thieves. And, one other reason, when touring museums or walking in town the sling bag looks less out of place.
Now for the moment of truth. Does it all fit into my 22″ x 14″ x 9″ carry-on bag? I’m not sure if the packing cubes really help compress the clothing, but they do keep things nicely organized. Drum roll, please….. Yes! Everything pictured fit inside the carry-on bag without going outside the allowed dimensions! I may need to put my toiletries in my sling bag to keep the 9″ dimension true, but when traveling by bus or train I can use the outside pocket or expand the carry-on bag by unzipping the gusset. I’ll just have to remember not to pick up too many gifts or souvenirs until I am ready to check my bag!