Generally, Alex and I are both light packers. Alex is the champion, being that for much of the past three years he’s lived in Europe to up to two months at a time with only a small 20″ rollaboard suitcase and the backpack that holds his laptop and camera. I’m a girl with a penchant for accessorizing, so I’m not to his par, but I usually manage to pack my things in about the same space (using the space my smaller clothes don’t take up for an extra pair of shoes or two, a couple scarves, and makeup/hair gunk). We can easily get by with our 22″ rollaboard and a backpack each for a couple weeks (minus one backpack if neither of us needs a laptop).
However. This trip–when we get back on Sunday night, we’ll have been gone from Kharkov for nearly a month–has strained our general packing tendencies in a crazy burst of logistics. At one point in this trip, we had luggage stored not only in four locations, but in four countries spread over two continents (Ukraine, India, Thailand, and Cambodia). We had to pack for two weeks of business trip (button-downs for Alex, jeans and nice shirts for me), a week hiking around temple ruins in Cambodia (t-shirts, shorts, sneakers, camera gear including one film and two digital cameras), and a week of scuba diving (nearly two suitcases alone to hold our scuba gear, wetsuits, and swimsuits). Not to mention, wanting to save room to buy things along the way–not just idle souvenirs, but things we’d like to use in our Ukraine apartment, which is furnished but not decorated.
So. We started the trip with our two roll-aboard suitcases (a 20″ normal and a 22″ wide Travel Pro, which are AMAZING and I highly recommend them), two backpacks (Alex’s is all camera gear, mine holds his laptop, our two scuba regulators, and little useful stuff), and our massive Scuba Pro suitcase (which holds the majority of our scuba stuff). In an effort to communicate the crazy amount of stuff the scuba gear entails, here’s a handy image of my gear–minus the weights and the actual air/nitrox tank (the boat provides these), but plus two swimsuits, three other wetsuit options (you never want to be cold underwater!), and a neoprene vest. And then there’s also all Alex’s gear. (Sorry for recycling images in this post, I have a lot of photos I need to go process!)
In India, we grabbed a few plastic bags from the hotel and stashed our winter coats, a picture book of India, magazines (I always try to score fashion and travel mags from airport lounges), our bulky noise-blocking headphones, and some of Alex’s work shirts in them so we’d have less to cart around (namely, to Bangkok, then Siem Reap, then Bangkok to Phuket to the dive boat, back to Phuket, back to Bangkok and then Pune, India–EGADS!). In Siem Reap, I bought a large tote bag, which has corralled some of the overflow and smaller souvenirs, so that the roll-aboards can accommodate the larger things like statues and lanterns. We didn’t buy too much in Phuket, mostly small non-bulky things like scarves. Now that we’re back in India, we’re trying to assess if we can make it all fit back into our existing luggage, which is what we originally brought plus the tote bag, or if we’ll have to buy a suitcase or duffel here. I think we’ll just barely squeak by, but we’ll see how it shakes out on Saturday.
Random Packing Tips & Practices (also click for previous packing tips):
- tie dirty underwear into knots (panties) or turn them inside out (boxers) so you know what’s what
- use flat things like books, magazines on the outsides of luggage, to provide hard-sided protection for smaller stuff
- stuff shoes with socks, underwear, small breakables, jewelry
- use an app to photo/scan documents and receipts as you go, then trash them (we use CamScanner Pro –there’s also a Free edition)
- if you plan on buying a specific item on the trip (tote bag and jewelry in Cambodia, scarves in Thailand), don’t pack your current ones, just wait until you buy them there
- pack disposable items if you can/need (Alex wore old frayed jeans he hopes to trash before flying back, I’ll trash most of my liquids bottles before flying out–I usually like to reuse them, but we need the space)