The first time I left for extended travel, the way I packed was much different. I was 19 and my brother gave me a backpack that he had used years before when he spent a summer in Europe. It was 2002 and there probably were some travel blogs and places to find info about where I was going and what to bring online, but I did not know or think to look for these sites. As I plan for my new upcoming journey and think about what I want to bring it got me thinking about the differences and they are vast!
I made so many obvious mistakes the first time and those lessons were learned quickly! Having grown up in northern Wisconsin, I, apparently, did not consider that there are places in the world that do not require cold weather clothing. Once we arrived in Thailand and settled into a place for a bit, we realized that we were at a beach destination and that we would be barely wearing any clothing most days. My friend Anthony and I looked at each other and all the cold weather gear we had brought, packed a box full of it and sent it home.
As I look ahead to this trip, I know that the vast majority of the trip will be spent in similar warm destinations. There are some added elements to consider, but experience has shown me that less is more. Since we want to head to Nepal and possibly trek to Everest base camp, we need to consider those different temperatures. Do we bring what we think we might need and carry it with us the whole time or do we keep things lighter and once there we can figure it out and likely buy it cheap before we go? Is there an option to sell what we would pick up back so we don’t have to carry it the rest of the way? Found the answers to a lot of questions here.
So outside of clothing there are some starker differences between my packing list now and then and this is where things get interesting. Obviously, in today’s world electronics are prominent and have become in many ways, necessary. I am literally packing a normal school sized backpack full of electronics. This is somewhat sad to me, but at the same time it will give me the opportunity to do this podcast on the road and to keep what I hope to be an interesting documentation of the journey. Laptop, phone, GoPro with accessories, drone, external HD, secondary power dock and all the cords that go with those to charge them! I have never taken this much stuff with me on a trip and am still unsure if it is the right choice.
To give some insight into how this differed with my travels in ’02, lets start with something simple, music. Now, I have all of that simply on my phone and a small portable speaker to connect with as well as headphones. Believe it or not, when I left in 2002 I not only had a Discman (look it up) but I literally brought EVERY CD that I owned in a massive CD book that held 4 per page! I am not even sure how I fit it in my bag, but the weight alone was nearly 5 lbs! I don’t look back at that as a nuisance because one of the amazing benefits I found from that trip was exposure to some amazing new music and I bought quite a few CDs to add to the book along the way. It is just amazing that I didn’t think twice about carrying that and the Discman, which was so easy to break.
Another difference is video and photography. Digital cameras were pretty new at the time and too expensive for me, so I decided to bring 12 disposable cameras. Now, a couple things about disposable cameras. First off, once you use them, you have to stick them back into your pack and continue to carry them with you until you either get back or get them developed. I did not want to carry the photos with me, so I waited to develop until I got back to the states. So they became a fixed weight in my bag. Not a big deal at the time, but really funny to think back on because of how easy it is to just pull our phones out and take amazing photos now. Something that I liked about the disposable camera is that when I got home and finally developed the pictures, it was an amazing way to go back over the trip and remember some things that may have fallen through the cracks of my memory. Unfortunately for me, I have a jokester of a thumb that likes to appear in most of those pictures from that time. SMH.
Between the lack of preparation and not learning about where I was going, not considering climates and simply the stage that technology was in, that trip caused me to learn a lot about packing. Now, I am such a minimalist with my clothing choices and know that it is really easy to pick up something along the way and usually for cheap. I would always suggest to anyone packing long term that less is more. You figure out very quickly the difference between need and want and I think that is a good thing to try and remember even when you return from travels. I am sure that I will make some mistakes and learn some more tricks on this trip and that excites me, because we can all always be trying to improve and better ourselves.