What to take and what to leave behind

As counter-intuitive as it seems, the length and scope of our trip actually simplifies this age-old conundrum—11 months, mostly on the move, we’ve got to keep things light. However, not knowing how isolated or rural our assignments in India and Thailand are going to be somewhat complicates the matter. What will be available? What will we really need?

This is different from packing for a 2-year Peace Corps tour; and it is different from packing for a wilderness trip. Yet there are elements of both in this, as we examine and question each item that makes it into our bags.

I aspire to the simplicity of John Muir, who would lace up his boots and walk into the woods for weeks at a time carrying nothing but a sack of bread crusts and a canteen. What more, besides passport and tickets, do we really need? Well, there are the tools of my trade: laptop, cameras, accessories. I hate being chained to gadgets, but I love the power and convenience of publishing from the road—that is the dream, isn’t it?

And so, entering the final throes of packing (we leave for Paris today!) we agonize over how many socks, journals, pens, shampoo bottles, pairs of underwear… they’re all available on the other side of the world, we know this, but there is always the ingrained desire to be prepared.

It will soon be over, this Sisyphian struggle for the mythical Perfect Pack, and when it is, we will have begun traveling.

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