Thursday, February 03, 2011

Packing and Planning

We are travelling with carry-on only. We like having carry-on luggage because, technically, it should be lighter, we can get cheaper airline tickets if we don't check baggage, and we enjoy walking straight off the plane and out of the airport. Our bags are still significantly heavier than we would like, somehow though. (shhh,.. don't tell the airline) I feel like I am constantly playing a strategy game: me vs my
bag. Since we had only been to Europe before, I had no idea how to pack for this trip. I feel like I had all the right pieces for camper-vanning and hiking in NZ Spring. Since then, however, I have 'donated' two shirts (polyester/spandex mix, which were too hot for Asia), a beloved yoga jacket, and a pair of pants. I have acquired two thin cotton sundresses, a sarong, a scarf and a thin cotton shirt. The very thin cotton seems to dry almost as well as the quick-dry travel clothes, especially in the heat. We do laundry, but that being said, the number of times it is acceptable to wear an item of clothing is significantly higher than I would ever practice at home. I like to travel with at least five pairs of underwear. So, at least if the rest of my wardrobe is questionable, I find comfort in that. Doing laundry in NZ and Oz was mostly a pain, especially when camping. There was rarely a clean place to wash anything let alone dry it. If we have a sink, and somewhere to hang the wet clothes, we laundry more often. We know what it's like to be standing around in just your raincoat or bathing suit hoping your pj's dry before bedtime. It's funnier to picture than to experience. In Asia, you just bring the pile down to the reception of your guesthouse and it comes back clean, dry and folded by the end of the day for about $2. Ahhhhh! I would say, as an average, we do laundry about once a week. Depending on the varying degrees of gross-ness.

We haven't bought any souvenirs, as of yet. Except maybe our newly acquired clothing.. although who knows if anything I have bought thus far will make it to the end of the trip. Clothing is so cheap in Asia that we have friends who just buy new t-shirts instead of bothering to do laundry. Jonathan has his hand woven Lombok sarong which is both useful and a nice souvenir. And Jimmy, of course. I guess the pictures would be our main souveniers though. If I saw something that I absolutely couldn't live without, I keep threatening Jonathan that I would just mail it home. Although, with how cheap most things are here, the cost of shipping it home would be more than the actual value of the item.

In terms of planning our route, we have an itinerary in mind. We started thinking about where we wanted to go a couple years ago, when this trip was still a pipe dream. Then, we looked into weather and rainy seasons and such. The route has been tweaked a few times since then. We don't have an exact itinerary within the individual countries worked out more than a couple days in advance. We have a general direction of where we want to go, and then move on based on our guide books, what sort of things we feel like doing, advice from other travellers and now, based around our volunteering commitments. Now that we have experienced extreme heat in Australia, we plan on avoiding being in those conditions again.
Before we left we booked flights to/from and around NZ and Australia to Indonesia and then to Singapore. We wanted to spend the bulk of our trip in Asia, and we couldn't afford to be in western countries for much longer than we were. Plus, with the holiday season in the middle of when we were trying to get around, we wanted to make sure we got the flights we wanted at the prices we wanted. Plus, we had friends we wanted to visit, so we made our itinerary with that in mind. We flew Hamilton to Vancouver with WestJet, then to Auckland with Air Pacifc (booked through Expedia) and then used Jet Star, which is Quantas budget brother to get from Christchurch to Sydney, Sydey to Darwin, Perth to Bali and then Bali-Singapore. We just booked our flight home for December with Iceland Air, but have nothing else booked before then. We plan on flying from China to Japan in the late Spring and then India to Turkey in the late Fall, but haven't really looked into those flights much. We prefer overland travel, if possible. We pre-booked our first night in Auckland and our campervans online before we left Canada. There were good web deals for advance bookings. So far, we have found our itinerary to be a good speed. It is flexible though, which is nice, especially when we find ourselves somewhere we really like and want to stay longer, or when we are ready to move on sooner than we had originally thought.


Anonymous said...


Was that msde in Canda???


Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan and Kristen...

Wow...We are so jealous!!!
It is an amazing trip and you still have so many months ahead of you.
Sadly our trip is over and we have to work again...but it is a time we will never forget.
We will follow you in your great adventures over the world.

Marco and Nadine