We’re about to head back to North America. That’s right, the European leg of our 2014 journey is almost over. In a lot of ways, I’m sad to be leaving. I feel a little short-changed – we only had one day in Vienna? Why didn’t we make it to Budapest? Should we have spent time in a random British city, too?
I’m also looking forward to the next leg of our trip: the East Coast. I’m excited to learn more about Toronto and New York. I can’t wait to drive down the East Coast as autumn descends and the leaves change. I’m looking foward to using a more familiar currency, and for things to be not so expensive.
I’m also thinking ahead to being back in San Francisco – being home. Travel is a lot of fun, and we’re extremely aware of how lucky we are to be doing it, but it’s quite exhausting and has a lot of anxiety associated with it. I’ll probably write another post about that, though.
But now, we’re at a half-way point in our travels. It’s not literally a half-way point – we’ve spent more time in Europe than we will on the East Coast – but it’s close enough and is, if anything, almost a thematic half-way point. So I decided to do a bit of reflection on the packing aspect of travelling – whether I’m regretting bringing that electric toothbrush, or how I feel about living out of a carry-on bag.
Living from a carry-on
It’s not that bad, to be honest. I’m getting a little tired of the clothes I have, and some of them are a little bit worse-for-wear, but all in all it’s fine. So far I’ve not had the Fight Club-esque “I want to get rid of more stuff” epiphany, but I have thought about slimming down on some clothes at home, and definitely getting rid of some of our stuff in storage (do we really need all those wires?).
It’s kind of funny that we’ve been checking our bags for most of our European flights. It started because we were mainly flying with EasyJet, which has a strict one-bag-only policy. There was no way we could fit our laptop bags in our carry-ons, so we checked them.
We’ve also been buying liquids in bigger quantities than we could take on the flight. Things like travel-sized shaving foam aren’t always easy to come by, and it feels wasteful buying a whole can of foam just to throw it away after a couple of uses.
Having said that, using the carry-on as a “way-of-mind,” if you will, has been great. I definitely wouldn’t pack a larger suitcase if I did this again. It’s far more convenient to have a smaller bag when navigating small hotel rooms or getting on a train.
Things I wish I’d brought
There’s a couple of things I wish I’d brought – but to be honest, they’ve been fairly easy to find abroad.
Cups/re-useable bottle – in some AirBnB places we’ve stayed in, they only had tiny water glasses. Most of the time, we’ve ended up buying big bottles and refilling them. We bought two medium-sized plastic tumblers to take around in case we needed a mixed drink or something to pour into. They come in handy in hotel rooms, too!
More bad shirts – I brought all my favourite shirts. Maybe this is just me, but I feel weird wearing my favourite stuff every day. They’re already starting to get a little tatty. I wish I had some more simple shirts that I could easily throw away at the end of this trip.
Things I wish I’d left
Some contact lenses – I really overpacked for contact lenses. I brought enough to wear every other day, and I’ve barely used them. I guess I thought I’d be wearing my sunglasses more often.
Running shorts – yeah, that was wishful thinking.
Three shirts – (a.k.a. dress shirts or button-downs) I just don’t wear these as much as I thought I would. I brought one ironable shirt and two non. I just don’t wear the ironable one because it’s too much hassle. I think one shirt would be plenty.
Summer is wrapping up in Europe and I’m starting to wear my heavier clothes again. But for a while, when it was 30ºC-plus every day in Prague, I cursed myself for bringing a woolen jumper and a heavy cardigan. Much like in a few months, I will probably be wondering why I brought shorts (although I did wear them a bunch!).
Things I’m so glad I brought
T-Mobile SIM card – I can’t sing the praises of (the USA company) T-Mobile enough; we switched to them just before we left the USA. They have unlimited 3G data and texts for a large number of countries, including every country we’ve visited. Being able to use Google Maps, or check your e-mail, without having to worry about paying through the nose for every single megabyte is incredibly relieving.
iPad – this might be obvious for people who have and love their iPads. I was never that into my iPad, but waiting in airports, taking train journeys, and other such times have made be really appreciate it.