Packing for over 5 months~ DEPARTURE DAY


Packed and ready to go

It wasn’t easy, but it did get done.


The vision that sits with me most right now as I sit in the airport at boise is the image of my dearly beloved kitten sitting at the top of the steps watching us take our luggage out of the house. She looked so quintessentially cute, lovely… and, that said… and albeit I may be projecting [but maybe not] she looked sad, curious, and like she was wondering what we are doing…

but that said, we got them both collars, we got them little tags that say:



His is on a little black dog bone. I think that’s hilarious.

Hers says:

LI’L BIT [I asked them to put the punctuation in… only an English teacher]


Hers is on a little pink circle. Very cute.

Later on the plane…. somewhere over the Atlantic. Actually, I can see exactly where we are over the Atlantic on the little personal screen in front of me. We have long left the airspace of the US, have fairly recently passed just below Greenland, which really looks like Iceland since it’s covered in white. On the map. The little airplane on the old-skool style google 1.0 map has a red line behind it and a dotted line detailing our still-intended path, which is bringing us right in to London Heathrow.

To be honest, I am interested in this little map and our location on it, as I have always been interested in earth and earth systems and especially maps! I think it’s interesting and I am reminded of my earth science beginnings… When I read that we have a 75 mph tailwind-excuse me, now it’s at 80 mph- I have a pretty strong feeling that we absolutely must be riding in the Jet Stream. There’s no other way to have that type of constant tailwind here at 35,003 feet above the Atlantic. That is so high! Seriously, and in case you’re curious, the outside air temperature is currently -57F. Aircraft seriously take a beating up here! Although, one thing I know is that there is often less “weather” per-se, at this altitude, hence, part of the reason someone decided that the airplanes should fly this high up. I love my personal little earthy map. It’s so curious.

Back as we were just taking off-for example-we saw that we traveled one mile on the tarmac without even taking off yet. Then after about half hour I was notcing that it looked very isolated and beautiful to the north of Montreal, since we were flying over that area. And it reminded me that there were some other folks who must be on their way there because the gate near ours was just boarding for Montreal. From the little 4×5 inch video-map in front of me it definitely looked similar to what I can only imagine as something reminiscent or similar to the boundary waters of northern Minnesota combined with the beauty of Washington states’ Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands. 

It’s actually very strange to consider how many areas really are NEAR water, sea, river, etc. Boise sometimes feels so dry and desert-like. Even up in the mountains where there are ample waterways, it still is just different than living near a sea or ocean, or even the boundary waters area of Northern Minnesota. [Yes, I really did live there. For a summer. It was awesome. “Land of 10,000 lakes is for real. And it seems from your 100th portage of a 75 pound canoe that the majority of the lakes are connected. Awesome. Beautiful. A special place, for sure.]

As I was trying to say, ample waterways vs. living on a real coastal style area near a real sea or ocean. I mean, 75% of this big momma is WATER. Oceans. LARGE bodies of water. Yet, so obviously, we ALL live on LAND. 7 billion of us. And counting. It’s honestly quite a trip. Like we wouldn’t even be here without that life-providing source of the delicate balance of our oceans and atmosphere. Yet the human-inhabitants of the planet reside on land. Yet it’s that delicate exchange in the atmosphere above the oceans that provides what is needed to sustain human life on land, whether high or low, whether mountains or desert. It all comes from the omnipotent seas.

Getting back to the getting ready for this Big Adventure. 


Packing for an Adventure of this magnitude is more difficult than you/one may think.

And while I had a lot of ideas, I only had about 48 hours to finalize my packing extravaganza, if you will.

Things to consider:

We’ll be over there for almost six months. [unless we change our minds, which could certainly happen!] Current plane tickets: in and out of London Heathrow, September 19, 2012 to February 27th, 2013. [haha, and there really was a part of me that wanted to not travel ‘far’ in 2012 ‘just in case’ the world really ended, I had thought I would like to be near my friends and/or family… yet from the middle row above the wing -”the safest place in the aircraft”, according to wayne [and I picture an airplane crash with everything aft and fore of the wingspan completely obliterated except a handful of people sitting in their seats-seatbelts fastened of course- looking around at the mayhem below them, just so greatful they got the ‘best seats’ above the wings]

I think this idea -the end of the world-seems based in an Americanismo superstition-based belief system. So much talk about the end of the world being in 2012. We’ll see what happens. And really, wouldn’t a person wish to be doing what they want when they die? That’s what I think, so now this seems like the right thing to do.


I was trying to share with you about packing.

PS: Now we have a headwind so our ground speed is ‘only’ 555 mph. We are getting closer to land, what is that, Ireland? Or Scotland? From here I can’t tell them apart, oh the chagrin of American knowledge of Geography. As much as I love maps and looking at them, still. As we pass over it I am sure my little map-screen will inform me, and I will be dumb no more!


Last night sitting on my bedroom floor with clothes, ideas, plastic baggies, and luggage all around me, I was really fighting with my inner self. I had every desire in my mind and heart to ‘travel light’ -which I strongly presume means different things for different people- because I’m thinking, “clearly, we’re going to be there for almost six months and probably 2.5 seasons-those being early fall, deep fall, winter, and maybe spring? The latter depends upon how far south we travel.


Volunteer working on farms. Maybe Italy. Likely Norway. And where else? In fall and winter these opportunities will be limited to farms with animals, que no? That said, we’ll have to be prepared to shovel shit. So I must bring my very rugged logger-carhartt double-front jeans, right?

I got my big soled rubber boots out for shoveling manure, but put them back because really, they take up so much room and there must be an opportunity to purchase those near where we’ll be volunteering? We’ll see.

Then, temperatures where we will be volunteering. Cool, cold, getting colder. Especially in our one currently confirmed farm location, somewhere to the west of Oslo in a nook of Norway.

Then, clothes to wear “around” when we are traveling, tourist style.

Walking around cities and towns?
Comfortable footwear. An absolute must. 

Which shoes and how many?

Camino de Santiago” in Northern Spain? Hiking boots? No. I’m really not a hiking-boot kinda gal. I settled for my awesome gortex salamon trail shoes. Heavy duty sole, water proof for the most part. And bonus? Broken in!


Teva flip-flop sandals. Cute.

Underwear? [rated PG, I promise]

That was the easiest. Quick-dry most everything. I can wash stuff in the sink with a little soap and it’s dry enough for travel or wearing the following day. Awesome. REI and Patagonia are awesome brands for this.

What do I wear for Pants?

I brought three pairs of jeans. [NOT including those logger-jeans! Ok. So that’s 4. Whatever]

If it sounds ridiculous… stay tuned. I may find that it is indeed ridiculous.

But here’s how I made this choice, just so you know.

I have a wonderfully comfortable pair of jeans that I LOVE to wear. I have had them for almost a year, they fit well, they’re comfortable, and I’m wearing them now on the airplane.

I have another pair of jeans that are tight all the way down. They look great on me-according to my husband. Well, if they look great, when I wear them, while I’ll be pulling them up half the time because the waist is lose and they are low low rise, I’ll feel good about looking cute. Yes, with a belt. So okay. Those had to come. Plus they take up less room.

Then I have this new ‘trendy’ pair of cool looking jeans. My opinion. They have almost-rips all over the front in a very planned out manner. The white threads still cross the jeans horizontally in what appears to be worn out denim. I like these because usually when I’m working I can’t wear that style to work. It would be inappropriate. That said, I want to feel hip and have fun while travelling in Europe. I don’t want to feel like some po-dunk old lady wearing her quick-dry pants that can unzip at the seams. [I have quick dry pants, but left the unzip at the seams ones behind]. Lots of people wear jeans everywhere. We’ll just have to hit a laundry mat on occasion. No big deal. A good time to take a break, slow down, relax, and enjoy a bit of local culture. That said, I actually have 2 pairs of quick-dry pants, REI purchases.

So. Five pairs of pants. Five months!

Plus a pair of shorts. [Well, seriously, we really do not know how far south we’re going!]

Plus rain-pants. England, helloooo.

Plus warm underlayers, both top and bottoms.

Those are for anytime it’s cooler.

And they’re the ones I use when skiing. Bonus! Double-use!

Speaking of ski clothes.

So I brought the 3 underlayers I always wear to ski, no matter the temp.

I got a lightweight jacket [faux-down… I believe that’s called synthetic, now].

This I can wear under an awesome rain-precipitation jacket that the REI sales rep insisted is what he skiis in. “Oh? You SKI in THIS jacket? AND it’s good for rain?” I’m sold. That sounds perfect for my needs in 2.5 seasons which will both include a lot of rain and hopefully a lot of skiing.

I have two pairs of ski socks.

I have a neck gaiter. [Hey, if you’re not a skier, you don’t know that this is a necessity when going as fast as you dare down hill!]

I have a hat. The cute one in multiple blue colors. I got it in McCall on my honeymoon. Ok. Eight years ago, if you must know. But I do hope to buy a cute one in some cool Euro ski town, too.

I have liner gloves. But will end up needing to buy gloves for skiing. Or, I can rent them, or buy ’em cheap at a second hand store… do they have those there?

I’ll also likely need ski pants. Same deal on second-hand hopes.

We’ll talk about the actual ski sequestering later on. That’s not even relevant at this time.


I brought too many shirts. I’m certain of this. But it was so hard to decide. “FIVE MONTHS” I kept saying to myself. So, how can I just keep packing my shirts to go to storage, when I really think I want them with me?

Comfortable t-shirts. I have a few.

Blouses. I packed a few. Darker colors since we’re coming on fall and winter.

Tank-tops. I wear them under everything. There are at least 3 in my bags.

Long-Sleeve layers.

I HAD to bring my Ex-Oficio brown sweater! Afterall, that brand is MADE to travel. It would have been a shame to leave it behind! And it’s sooo soft!

Alf Fleece. I’ve had this thing for years. I wear it all the time in fall and winter. It’s my mid-layer for skiing. It’s my over layer in fall. It’s comfortable. It’s fleece. It’s the bomb.

RED T-SHIRT. Long sleeve. For hanging out. Lounging. Writing. Late-mornings with good coffee. For a fall workout? Idk. That’s all I need.


Rain poncho. Got it last month in Costa Rica during an ‘aguacero’. Why not bring it? I’m sure it will double up as another use… a tarp? A picnic surface? A ground-cover? A roof? 

Water-color pencils and small art pad. Well. How can I get back to my creative self if I leave those behind? That’s all there is to say about that.

Journal. Self explanatory.

NOOK. I love to read on my nook. I enjoy listening to the music that was uploaded onto it for me. I like the apps, games, alarm clock, and sound-maker. I am thrilled that I can have a whole bookshelf worth of books in such a small device.

ASUS ASPIRE ONE. This cute li’l computer is da bomb. Google it.

Mouse and mouse pad. Yes, I need a mouse. For any longer termed time-frames sitting at the computer I will need to use a mouse. It’s more convenient. More comfortable. Did I mention we’d be here for 5 months? Just BYOM.!

DoTerra Oils. I use them, what can I say. The ‘heavy hitters’ really work. I need them.

Homemade First Aid Kit. We made our own based on our knowledge as ex-ski-patrollers. Plus we did some research on what we might need. We had it all, so we combined, morphed, added, labeled, and brought a special ‘european personal tour pack’. [I wonder if I should market OUR first aid kit? Everyone else is doing it].


I’ve got ditties galore.

The obvious: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush. Mascara, lip stuff, aspirin/ibuprofen, sunscreen [very small], sunglasses…

The less-obvious [maybe depending upon the person]: floss, visine, earplugs, prayer-beads, packets of drink mix, tea packets, wet-wipes, small vial of bubbles with a mini-bubble-wand.

What? “They let you in here with that?” That’s wayne asking. I laughed. Of course! It’s less than 3 ounces.

I know I’m forgetting stuff… but I think this isn’t the point.

The point is to share that it isn’t easy to decide what gets cut and what gets packed when trying to go overseas for five-plus months.

Now, I know a few things:

I packed too much.

I didn’t pack everything I need.

For example, next week sometime we’ll need to buy shampoo, conditioner, a women’s razor, shaving cream.

I know that this winter I’ll need to acquire skis, boots, poles, somewhere.

I know that for MOST ANYONE ELSE attempting to travel for five months in 2.5 seasons and a variety of climate zones, it’s likely there would be more stuff packed.

But I did it in a carry-on plus a very small backpack packed into a huge duffel.

Oh Yes!

Other Ditties:
Small red fleece blankie. I know I’ll end up leaving it here somewhere. Hopefully given as a gift to some wonderful host or something.

I also have the coolest most compact little sleeping bag in a very small compression sack. It’s “comfort level” is 45F, which would be about right for hosteling it or the pensiones along the camino. Let’s suffice it to say, we may not be camping outside with just these bags, but I think it’ll be doable well into fall.

So, it was difficult. Probably the internal struggle was what made it so, more than anything. On one hand I wanted to be the ‘easy-going traveler‘, the one who doesn’t take too much, the one who can carry everything on their back.

Yet, it turns out, I’m somewhere just past that on the spectrum line of “how people travel”. I don’t need a porter, or a llama, or have expensive huge heavy luggage. But I did have to check a bag. And I fear I did bring too much. What happens if we want to buy a souvenir? [“We’ll mail it back to ourselves” Brad says. Well, that may be true, and it certainly is feasible… but it’s the principle of the thing in my head, actually].

Now the outer air temp is -52F. The distance traveled is 3580 miles. The current altitude is 35,000 feet. Distance to destination? 306 miles! Wow! Who woulda thunk. We are just South of Limmerick, on the map-screen. The plane on the screen is almost above England, and breakfast snacks are being served… So I am OUT!

PS: It’s 12:56 am in Boise, Idaho.

It is 7:56 am in London, England.

Here we go! Getting ready for the first day EVER in my life in Great Britian! Tea, please!


3 thoughts on “How to pack for 5 months

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