Archive for the ‘Packing’ Category

Now we’re moving to some advice that is more specific to our trip here in New Zealand. We arrived in mid-September, and we definitely underestimated the significance of the spring season. Needless to say, we were cold for the first two weeks of our trip. It’s warming up every day now, but the summer highs average in the mid-70’s so it’s by no means sweltering. If you’re planning a trip to visit NZ (maybe to visit us?) than here are some tips to help you navigate the weather and fit in with the locals.

Bring layers: The relatively small size of the island makes it susceptible to strong winds and quickly-changing weather patterns. However, there is also a massive hole in the ozone layer that sits right above the country. Al Gore may have been onto something because you can really feel the power of the sun beating down on you. So it’s important to bring layers because on any given outing you can go from shorts and t-shirts to sweaters and rain jackets very quickly.

Scarf? Rain Jacket? On such a sunny day? You should’ve seen the clouds before we left

Go casual: This is our favorite aspect of the attire in NZ- it’s generally pretty casual. You do not often have to make the decision between function and fashion. Function is always respected, even in bars and restaurants in the major cities. Leave your high-heels at home, a dressy shirt and jeans will get you in the door anywhere.

Don’t be “that guy” at the party

Think outdoorsy: Kiwis love the great outdoors. Everyone enjoys a good tramp through the bush or a day on the beach. Don’t forget to bring sneakers, comfortable pants to walk in, and shirts you wouldn’t mind breaking a sweat in. The best views and the most genuine experiences that we’ve had have been out in the environment so it’s important to have clothes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy.

Watch out for that tree! A quick tramp outside of Wellington

Versatility is key: This is a pretty universal tip, but a good one to keep in mind no less. We’re on the move a lot here, and any good overseas trips will be like that. It’s important to pack as lightly as possible, but still feel comfortable in your constantly changing settings. A sweater and a scarf can turn three t-shirts into six different outfits, and (with a shower) they can transform you from a tramper to partygoer easily. That’s right white people, break out your scarves- go nuts!

Bad hair day? Wear a scarf.

When you finally sit down with that empty bag think about comfort, warmth, and packing light.  Here’s a short list of items we’d recommend bringing on your trip to New Zealand, if you are so inclined to visit us 🙂

  • Sneakers
  • Toms (or similar casual, lightweight shoe)
  • Jeans
  • Athletic, moveable pants (break a sweat, get a little dirty)
  • Shorts
  • Bathing suit
  • A few simple shirts
  • Athletic shirts
  • Sweater you can dress up and dress down
  • Sunblock
  • Lightweight Jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Good book
  • Camera

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Packing for this trip was quite daunting as you might remember. So after two months on the road how are we feeling about those decisions? What would we recommend to others embarking on their own backpacking trip?

We’ll break this advice into two posts, the first featuring five tips for any backpacker on an international trip. The second post will be geared towards a trip to New Zealand- as we do have some visitors coming in the next few months!

1.) Even if you’re not planning to sleep in tents, don’t ignore the camping gear. These two items are lightweight, easy to pack, and have been very useful despite our indoor accommodations. For some shut-eye we recommend the REI Travel Sack sleeping bags. They’ve kept us warm in the campervan and clean in the hostels. The REI quick-dry towels are also no scam. They’re truly quick-drying and super absorptive. Buy the original version not the Lite, it works much better and is still the size of a face towel.

Good night moon

2.) Go for the hiking backpacks because when have you ever bought a rolly-bag that actually rolled? Choosing the right bag is important because it holds your life. Purchasing one may seem a bit daunting if you’ve  never owned one before so here are three suggestions for a first-timer to think about:

  • Comfort counts– be sure to get fitted by someone at the store. It gets heavy.
  • Simplicity– Our bags have 3 pockets each- one on top, one on the outside, and the main storage section. The main section has an opening on top and on the side so when laid-down you can easily access items from top to bottom. Very clutch!
  • Buy the Duffel Cover– It’s an extra $20 on a $200 purchase and it’s well worth it. The cover will protect your bag from careless handlers on buses and planes. It also provides extra space to store a heavy jacket or boots if you can’t fit them into your backpack- we’re looking forward to this on the way home!

Backpacks deliver on their promise. They always fit on your back

3.) Think simple when it comes to the power adapter. We were attracted to our Dynex power adapter because of its all-in-one attitude. It’s got plugs for three continents, but it’s massive. In fact it’s so big that it falls out of the socket when any charger is plugged in. You have to prop it up to keep it in the wall.  Don’t get greedy, go simple.

Gravity wins again. Thanks for all the product testing Dynex.

4.) Don’t underestimate the importance of a few spare plastic bags. Think wet bathing suits after an impromptu swim or stinky, muddy sneakers and dirty laundry. Smell is airborne, plastic is the solution!

That smell will clear a room. Better to zip-lock it up

5.) Bring a carry-on sized bag that’s easy to carry with your primary bag. I brought a purse and Eliott opted for a small backpack. These are important for all kinds of transit because your big bag will be stashed below somewhere. It’s also great for a weekend trip. Trust us, if you have a place to store your big bag for a short trip, you’ll want to!

A small bag is clutch for quick trips to the beach or a walk around town. Just look at this happy boy.

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Life in 60 Liters

Meg and I are two of the world’s finest procrastinators, but even we realize there comes a time to pack for every trip. And for us, with 5 days ’til lift off, the time is now. Cramming a year’s worth of clothes into a 60 liter backpack is no picnic. In fact, it’s been downright frustrating. But through our tribulations we’ve learned a few things that have helped focus our efforts and alleviate some stress.

Here are our 6 simple tips for packing your life into 60 liters:

1. Sack up

The right backpack makes all the difference. And even though scrolling and clicking your way through Amazon’s travel aisle is a million times easier (and 3-8% cheaper), it’s just not the same as going into a store. Not only do you get to try on the packs, which is critical since the wrong size can lead to chronic back spasms, but you can compare all of the top brands and get input from people who know a lot more than you. (Yes they’re sales people, but they know their product. Just watch out for sharks.)

2. The first golden rule

Only pack items that you’re mentally prepared to throw away.

Not that we’re planning on renouncing our material possessions and moving to Nepal. But we’re only bringing things that we’re comfortable getting dirty…and possibly ruined. It’s amazing how much easier packing becomes when you make the top three shelves in your closet off limits.

Okay, I’m breaking the rule with the Patriot sweatshirt. There’s no way I’m coming back without it. Even golden rules have exceptions.

3.  Bring the most versatile 10 day wardrobe ever 

The water might spin in the opposite direction, but they still have laundromats down under. 10 outfits should be more than enough to last the year. Versatility is the key. Bring multi-purpose clothes–things you can wear to dress up or dress down. Which brings me to my next point. Jeans. Yeah, they’re heavy but you can’t beat the functionality. Plus, the right set of skinnys are aesthetically pleasing. [editors note: Meg is the only member of the team packing skinnys.]

It’s also important to consider the climate. We’ll be arriving at the start of spring, so even though the mercury will be rising, chances are we’ll encounter a handful of wet and chilly days. We’re not packing our winter coats since we’d probably grow to resent them by summer, but we’ve got another plan. Layers.

We’re also prioritizing quick-dry articles and dark colors. Why dark colors? Because they hide the dirt. You know, just in case we can’t find a laundromat for a few weeks.

4. The second golden rule 

Roll everything!!!

Meg has a lot of green shoes…

It’s the only way to make it all fit.

5. All the small things

Inevitably we’re going to arrive and realize how many details we overlooked. So our goal is to minimize the moving pains by covering as many small things now. Two examples:

Towels. Beach towels are clunky and when you’re working with 60 liters clunky is no good. For $17 we found these nifty quick-dry towels at REI. They take up less room than a hair dryer and boast 8x the absorptive powers of a normal towel. Done and done.

Example number two. Meg is a self-proclaimed sweater. She even wrote her college essay on the subject. (For the record, I don’t think she has a problem, but it was an extremely successful essay.) So when she heard that New Zealand doesn’t have stick deodorant–only spray–she biked to BJs and stock piled.

Yes, that is a google bicycle.

(It could be a myth that they only have spray. We’ll let you know when we land.)

6. Practice

We know how lame this is going to sound, but we’ve practiced packing (and unpacking) our bag…multiple times. But hear us out. Chances are we’ll have to load and unload it more than a dozen times during the year, so we figured why not get really really good at it? Plus, all this practice has helped us weed out unnecessary items and discover all the clever alcoves our bags have to offer.

Next steps: we’ll be sure to revisit this post in a couple months and see how we did. Chances are we’ll have learned a few things…because no matter how much you practice, nothing teaches you more than in-game experience.

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