10.26.2010

Packing

I travel. A lot. You would think that I would be a professional packer, but I'm not. Actually I'm fantastic at making things fit in my limited luggage space. What I fail at is remembering all the items that need to fit in said space.

I forgot several things I bring every scientific cruise.

- A swimsuit for the kick ass makeshift hot tub on board the R/V Melville.

- A head lamp and string of Christmas lights so I don't have to turn on the overhead lighting on my bunkmate while she is sleeping.

- My half liter Nalgene water bottle.

- A handkerchief, for hair, for sweat, for washclothes, for everything really.

That said, there are a few things that I almost never forget and I'm so glad i didn't this time. So here are a few of my travel tips, not just for Research Vessels.

1. Use a backpack, especially in foreign countries.

Yes you tend to stick out as a foreigner but if you think that is the only (or even first) thing giving you away, you are definitely not passing for a local.

The advice is the direct result of my time in Tokyo. Tokyo of all places. The heart, soul and Mecca of modern technology. When you see images all you see are Times Square like cross walks and you imagine being just fine with a 5th Ave style crocodile roller bag. Well it ain't true I tell you.

Transportation in Tokyo is fabulous. I stepped off the subway to discover about 100 stairs to the street above and a busted elevator. I had packed for my standard 6 weeks at sea (craft projects, foul weather gear, etc) in one large roller bag. Too heavy to carry, I had to drag it up the stairs. Between that and the return trip down when I left town, my luggage never recovered with a permanently damaged frame.

Let's also not forget the hideous sound of your wheels on the pavement, enough to drown out the cicadas in the parks. It will draw the eye of everyone within a block and then anyone who wouldn't have noticed you before is staring and tut-ing.

A good backpack is comfortable, quiet and it goes everywhere you do.

2. For the knitters Start with a brand new project the day of flight.

I have never (knocking on wooden dpns) had my needles confiscated at the security check point. But I always do the following, just in case, bring inexpensive clover bamboo or wooden needles, sticking to circulars, and cast on at the airport or the day before with a simple stitch pattern.

Wooden needles tend to be forgiven, especially stored with wooden pencils. Circulars are the least offensive to those around you ( shorter and no swinging ends) and minimizes the length of the actual needle keeping TSA happy.

If they are taken from you, you only just started and it is less painful to remove the needles and pick up dropped stitches or just frog and cast back on when reunited with needles in your checked bag (because you checked spares right?).

If for some reason you MUST carry on that heirloom laceweight shawl on the addi turbos you have spent the last year of your life on, throw in a lifeline before you go.

3. Zippered pillow cases.

A large bag with few pockets fits the most stuff, but makes organization more difficult. However, zippered pillow cases keep wool roving and yarn neatly separated from clothing and standard sizes are perfect for about a week's worth of folded clothes (at least in my case, but I'm not super stylish). When you reach that destination you can keep clean separated from dirty and if need be, you have a private laundry bag to head off to the laundromat.

Along the same thought, fabric bags in general make better purses. When you are souvenir shopping they are invaluable and an extra duffel bag never hurts if you plan to shopt (and I konw you do!).

4. Rubber budded earphones

Doubles as earplugs when necessary and when those noice cancelling headphones have to be turned off for taxi and take off.

5. A book. Real actual printed book.

Paper books never have to be turned off or put away. Same thing with your knitting.

Now, I'm sure I don't have to remind you kids to always know where your towel is.

3 comments:

BeadKnitter said...

I suffer the same packing memory problems for when we go camping that you do. So I came up with a solution. I sat down and thought of all the basic things that must be packed and made a list using a word processing program complete with little square boxes to check off as I pack. Now when we go camping all I have to do is print one out and start checking things off as I pack them. I have a blank section in each category for things that I would need for a specific trip but not necessarily for every trip. I write those items in by hand.

Susan said...

No bathing suit? I know you love time in that hot tub!

brandilion said...

Thanks BeadKnitter. I made myself a master list. I remade myself a master list. I have remade that list 10 times in various *obvious* places. Every attempt at organizing myself ahead of time has failed me. Including beginning the packing process 2 weeks ahead of time. Although I'm fairly certain that I failed due mostly to having to pack for three trips at the same time.