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Post-Mortem on Packing

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

On June 11, a little over 3 months ago, I posted a blog entry of my packing list along with photos of what I was bringing with me. That post is thus far the most visited of the whole blog, by several percentage points (it gets linked to in a bunch of places). I’ve also gotten many comments that people have found that very helpful. But the true test, of course, is how well that list held up. Now that I am back I can give a faithful accounting of what worked and what didn’t.

Let me start by saying that I learned very quickly that I both hate and suck at doing laundry in a sink. Some people do laundry every night, I found that my clothes simply didn’t get clean enough (I also DON’T recommed Dr. Bonner’s Soap as detergent). I would generally find it far more worthwhile to pay a hotel or hostel to do my laundry for me, but you must swing it correctly such that you’re in one location long enough to have them do it and have it dry. In Uganda, it rained far too much so I mainly had them wash it, and if it looked like rain, I dried it inside my room. So having a clothesline is a necessity, even if you don’t plan much on doing your own undies. [read on]

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Tomorrow I have to give back my computer to work, so this will be my last post stateside, as they used to say (or maybe they just said that on TV).

If all goes right, I have a 10.5 hour flight from LAX to Amsterdam, a 2.5 hour layover, and then an 8.5 hour flight to Mt. Kilimanjaro. All I can say is, thank god for Ambien.

Final to do list:

  • Become officially unemployed – check [read on]
  • The Cher Hair update

    Monday, July 2nd, 2007

    Inquiring minds want to know:
    Where am I at 9 days and counting?
    (Translation, I have nothing more interesting to write about:)

    First, for those of you who seem to be dying to know, the response on the Cher Hair was mixed at first, though now that it has poofed up a bit and people have gotten used to it, the response has been largely positive. The first responses were:

      Me: “So what do you think?”
      Them: “Um, well what do YOU think? That’s what’s important”
      (not reassuring!)

    Of course being a part of the Groucho Marx School of Belonging, I had other friends who said it looked fantastic, which immediately means I must discount what they say. My friend AS would say I look fabulous even if I pulled a Britney Spears.

    [read on]

    The countdown begins — Oh, and I now have Cher Hair

    Sunday, June 24th, 2007

    I lied in my earlier post. Or, rather, I was grossly mistaken.

    Being a retentive planner, you don’t get bored when you have nothing left to plan — you get utterly freaked out.

    Granted, I’ve accomplished a lot, but I still feel like there’s so much left to do. I wish I’d been born with that gene that allows you to say “I’m leaving for a round the world trip tomorrow and haven’t thought about what I’m going to bring yet.” OK, they probably end up with sore stinky feet and are cold at night and don’t have packs of oral rehydration salts “just in case” like me, but in the end, they may be the happier for it.

    [read on]

    Don’cha wish your backpack was packed like mine?

    Monday, June 11th, 2007

    One of the negatives of being a retentive planner is that eventually, you finish planning. Then you get bored.

    Right now, there’s nothing left to buy (dangerous, b/c then I might start buying what I don’t need). There’s nothing left to figure out how to pack. There’s nothing else to do but obsessively re-read guidebooks and travel websites.

    In the absence of anything better to write I’ll answer the burning question of what am I bringing with me. Well, that’s the backpacker’s “half full” perspective. The friends/family/normal people “half empty” perspective is – what aren’t I bringing with me? Or, more usually, “you’re only bringing how many [of whatever]???”

    [read on]

    Passing the Bill Bryson test

    Monday, May 28th, 2007

    The good news is I passed the Bill Bryson test.
    The bad news is, I’m in a whole world of hurt right now.

    If you’ve lived under a travel rock for the last decade or so you might not be familiar with Bill Bryson, but he’s a laugh-out-loud-funny travel writer. I was given my first Bryson book when my friend KH was visiting me and reading In a Sunburnt Country (which apparently has now changed the title to proper english spelling, but unless I was on drugs I swear was spelled ‘sunburnt’ on my copy), about Bryson’s travels in Australia. She left me the book when she was done and from there it duly sat on my shelf for a year or more destined to be unread because I was “not into nonfiction.” Foolish me.

    [read on]

    Maladies of Malaria meds making me mad…

    Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

    Course, this alliteration would have worked better if I’d gotten Malarone rather than Doxycycline…

    For future travelers, learn from those who came before you:
    [read on]

    Shoe Shopping by Spreadsheet, or Getting My $75,000 Worth

    Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

    Once my backpack anxiety ended, my new anxiety became shoes. As my good friends CM, LG, and RB can tell you, plus everyone on the BnA Travel Gear page, I have been obsessed with what shoes to bring on this trip. Given that my friends were about to throttle me, I decided to apply my MBA training to this question, and solve the shoe dilemma via a spreadsheet.

    If you think picking what shoes to bring on a trip like this is easy, you’re clearly missing an X chromosome.

    [read on]

    Give me your tired, your poor, your gear-head fanatics…

    Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

    … and you’ll find them on line at 6:30am outside REI for their used-gear sale. We may be freaks, but at least we’re freaks in like company.

    $30 got me my required second set of convertible pants, plus a pair of shorts, one packing folder, and one water-proof document-holder-thingey that I’m not really sure is what it is, but was only $4.
    [read on]

    I hated it so much I went back for more…

    Friday, April 27th, 2007

    After thoroughly trashing Lush products in my previous post, I naturally decided to go back and try more of their stuff.

    Clearly Lush is a successful company that doesn’t need me to tell it what to do, but what it needs to do, is fire whoever names its products.

    As noted earlier, in anticipation of my trip and my goal to bring as little stuff (and liquids) as possible, I bought a $5 sampler of Trichomania “bar” or solid shampoo, which in latin, or greek, or some historical language no one uses anymore except Latins or Greeks, means “excited about hair”. Well, that’d be a totally cool name if wasn’t pretty much already the name of both a sexually transmitted parasite, Trichomoniasis, and a disorder that causes people to pull out their own hair, Trichotillomania.

    [read on]

    Who names a shampoo after an STD anyway?

    Thursday, April 19th, 2007

    Lush did not change my life. I’m rather sad about the fact as I was really hoping it would.

    As a result of my addiction to toiletries, I have been experimenting with “bar” shampoo, in the interest of traveling with fewer liquids and with one product that should last the entire trip.

    In case you’re not familiar with Lush, their value proposition (important term learned in MBA school) is:

      We believe in making effective products out of fresh organic fruit and vegetables, the finest essential oils and safe synthetics, without animal testing, and in writing the quantitative lists on the outside. We also believe that words like FRESH and ORGANIC have honest meaning beyond marketing.

    I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that “in quantitative lists on the outside” might be translated from another language. They are a British company, after all.

    [read on]

    $395, 3 Shots, and One Closed Consulate Later…

    Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

    Holy $#!@ shots are not cheap.

    Went to the travel clinic today instead of my regular doctor because the shots are way cheaper (believe it or not!). I was planning on going back to work after but decided to come home and pass out instead. I must admit, I think it may have been the best sleep I’ve gotten in weeks, but the fact that I was operating heavy machinery across town was probably not the best of ideas. I wonder if there’s a condition called “DUV” Driving Under Vaccination? [read on]

    Confessions of a Toiletry Addict

    Monday, April 16th, 2007

    Hello. My name is Snarky, and I am a travel-size toiletry addict.

    One of the many bits of travel advice from seasoned travelers is “don’t bring too many toiletries. There’s almost nothing you can’t buy along the way.” This may be true, but when you’re an addict, there’s a little voice in your head that constantly says “but maybe they won’t have it, and it’s so cheap, and it’s so small how much weight to your pack can it really add, and it’s so cute!” [read on]

    Backpacks don’t care how fabulously long your legs are

    Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

    Not that I’m the type that obsesses about things (ha ha), but you’d think getting a backpack for my trip shouldn’t be THAT difficult, right? Let me take you on a tour of Snarky’s World of Anxiety.

    First problem: I’m short (5’2”)
    Second problem: I’m short-waisted short.

    If upper-body matched my legs, I’d probably be a leggy 5’7” or more (and maybe blonde and bubbly, too!). On the other hand, if my legs matched my torso, I think Mini-Me and I would hit it off rather well. So, I basically go from legs to neck, with a few well-placed diversions in between. [read on]

    Shots suck worse the next day

    Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

    When they put one in each arm so you can’t sleep on EITHER side during the night, and so the next day you’re both in pain AND exhausted!

    Shots Suck

    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

    Today I did two things trip-related. I got two of my 10,000 shots (OK, 7 shots, but still!!) and went back to REI to further obsess over backpacks. Regarding shots have you by chance kept a rigorous history of all vaccinations you ever received as an adult or child? Yes? Well good for you — you’ll save yourself a lot of money and pain before traveling. For the rest of us, there’s needles. Lots and lots of needles (and lots and lots of MONEY). [read on]

    Why REI has smart cookies working for them

    Sunday, April 1st, 2007

    When I was an anthro student there floated around a list of jokes such as “you know you’re an anthropologist when you see someone with a limp and the first thing you think is how you’d like to see the wear patterns on their tarsals.” It’s funny if you’re an anthropologist, believe me. [read on]