Tag Archives: packing

Trip Preparations

Photo by: cod_gabriel

Today is July 1st and I’m leaving the states for Nepal in exactly three weeks.  In fact, at this time (12:28 p.m.) in exactly 3 weeks I’ll probably be sitting in the San Francisco International Airport, drinking coffee, playing on my laptop and waiting to board my flight to Seoul, South Korea.  It still hasn’t quite soaked in yet that I’m leaving for Asia on an extended trip yet again.  This will be my third long Asia trip in the past three years.  Although, I’m not quite sure this trip will be the same as my past travels.  I am not just backpacking or wandering anymore, I’m going to Kathmandu, Nepal for a magazine job.

As with the month before any long trip I have an overwhelming amount of preparations to do.  Some pleasant and exciting, like buying camera equipment and working on my website, and other things not so pleasant, like figuring out the intricacies and fine print of travel insurance packages.  Within about two weeks I’ll begin the meticulous process of packing up my bags to bring abroad, and packing up my life here in the U.S. into taped-up cardboard boxes.  The whole process is exciting and tiring at the same time.  Each item that goes with me will require careful planning and consideration.

I learned my lesson about over-packing on my first trip.  I had 2 guide books, multiple pairs of shoes, a water purification system, all sorts of bug repellants, and way too many clothing items.  With in one month on the road, I had slowly but surely left a trail of my things that I didn’t need across Asia.  I ditched water bottles and clothes in Singapore, gave away books and extraneous toiletries in Nepal and finally ended up with a decent sized backpack.

My upcoming trip, as I mentioned, is different than any previous trip I have taken because I am actually resettling in Kathmandu for a while.  This means I’ll probably want more than just the items I can fit into a backpack.  I’ll want some books and other items to make my new apartment in Kathmandu (which still remains to be found) more comfortable and livable.

So, as the weeks and days tick down to July 21st, I have a lot to do, a lot to think about, and a lot to pack.  Although tedious, all the trip preparations and planning are surely worth it.

Does Traveling Skew Your Perception of Possessions?

Do you need all this?

I went on my first extended travel trip in 2007.  I was 20 years old at the time, excited to leave Oregon and see the world.  I thought and thought and thought about where I wanted to go and finally decided on Nepal.  Nepal was a place I didn’t know much about and it seemed perfectly mysterious and foreign to me, which fit the bill for my destination.

It took me about a month to truly get ready for this first 10 month trip.  Especially since it was my first trip, I dedicated many hours to considering which gear would be best, what medications to bring and how many travelers checks I would carry.  And then came the major hurdle: my stuff.  Piles of it.  Mounds and boxes and bags of stuff.

“How did I accumulate all this?” I wondered, especially since most of it was totally useless and pointless.  Way too many clothes, shoes and bags.  So what did I do?  Gave it all away.

Before I left on my first trip I pared down my stuff by about 75%.  Boxes and boxes went to Goodwill and other charities.  It felt great to get rid of these possessions, most of them meaningless.  It was like a burden was lifted off my shoulders.  Packing a years worth of things into a small backpack is an enlightening process and leads to a deeper understanding about just how much stuff we really need.  In reality, we don’t need much.

Since I’ve been back from my first around Asia trip, my perceptions of possessions have changed drastically.  I rarely buy anything, whether it’s clothes, shoes or cooking utensils.  Traveling has taught me how much extraneous stuff I don’t need.  It feels good to not buy a lot of things, sort of like a disconnect from consumer culture.  Of course, whenever I think about my “Next Trip Fund,” that alleviates any desire to spend money as well.

Sometimes I feel like traveling has skewed my perceptions on possessions.  Especially in America, we’re surrounded by stores, malls, retail outlets and more.  There are ads, billboards, TV messages and beyond, everyone asking you to buy something.  So, it seems strange and disconnected to not buy much.  I look around my house and it is almost empty (it’s a big space, but nonetheless…).

Traveling has changed my perceptions on buying and possessions.  One of the most important lessons traveling has taught me is to be happy with fewer things.