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Packing Joys

Packing Joys

Ah, the joys of packing.

We know people who are light packers – give them twenty minutes and a backpack, and they’re ready to travel for a month (or a year). We also know people who are highly organised, supremely structured packers, with lists and plans and enough discipline to finish their packing well ahead of any given grip.

Unfortunately, we’re neither of the above (me least of all).

Our packing generally begins with a couple of scattered lists and a suitcase in the corner where we progressively throw items of relevance. This part can start weeks or even months in advance. The big ticket items are usually covered pretty well. In the final hours, however, we inevitably find the 80/20 rule rapping us on the head – that fiddly final 20% always takes up all the remaining time we have.

We often have morning flights, so the nights before our flights become a jumble of chaos and sleep deprivation. We run around charging electronics, transferring files, making copies of documents, clearing SD cards. We realise that two of the two dozen types of pills in our first aid kit have expired and make a hurried note to stop at the airport pharmacy. We turn our garage inside out hunting for that length of rope we swear we saw only a day ago – only to find it lying on our dining table. We double check our Camelbaks and fuel canisters and other items that need to be cleared, and suddenly discover that one of our backpacks have mould. The list goes on.

This time, for better or worse, we really can’t afford to be too disorganised. Not only are we going away for most of a year, but we’re packing for three very different things at once. That part is actually doing my head in a bit because they all affect one another.

There’s the brief HK trip next week, where I will need my hair products and Bruno will need his tux, and where we effectively need to be presentable urban dwellers for a while. There’s the much longer world trip where we’ll be living in tents and needing all our outdoor gear for all four seasons. And then there’s probably the most complicated one – packing the apartment up so we can rent it out while we’re gone, which obviously means packing everything we’re not taking on the world trip, including everything we bring back from our HK trip.

Travel packing has its share of associated, shall we say, joys and tribulations – budgets, currency exchanges, vaccinations, insurance, bookings, visas, weight limits and so forth – but we’re relatively comfortable with those given our travels in the past. It’s the rental part that we are now working through, from mattress cleaning to smoke alarm testing to mail redirection to water efficiency certifications. We discover new gems almost every day.

Because it’s such a long trip, we’re also needing to pack more carefully. Clothing and linen is being cleaned, dried and either hung or vacuum sealed, with dehumidifying beads and all sorts of precautions against mould and other attacks. (I have donated a mountain of clothing simply to avoid dealing with it.) Anything wooden or paper-based is also going through a sealing and dehumidifying process where possible. Kitchenware is perhaps the easiest, since we’re mainly looking to protect against breakage, but apparently we have a lot of it – not sure how all of that happened within a year.

There is more, but I’d rather stop thinking about it and you’d probably rather stop hearing about it. Suffice to say that it’s a fair bit more involved than our usual pre-trip ritual of clearing the fridge, cleaning the toilets and turning off the power. It’s more like preparing to move overseas, which I suppose it is, in a sense.

Anyway, we’ve been making progress but there is still a fair way to go, and I am extremely glad there are two of us. Otherwise, I would be tempted to build a blanket fort and make that the sum of my travel plans – with a dress code of pyjamas and a local cuisine consisting of Kahlua-infused hot chocolate with marshmallows.

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