Tag Archives: X more sleeps

Size does matter

12 Feb

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”

~ Susan Heller

In all my research for this trip (and believe you me I’ve done a lot) the one area that I probably spent the most time on was what backpack to buy and what to pack in it.

I have dozens of links on the topic, however I have not read a single blog or forum or travel website that advocates packing more or packing heavier. Every single site I found recommended a less is more approach to packing.

Having never backpacked before I decided I would do my best to start where I’d like to end up. It made sense learn from everyone else’s experiences instead of making well-documented mistakes myself.

This is why I deliberately purchased a small backpack that has carry-on baggage dimensions. After much deliberation I went with the Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack. I got the small/medium size to suit my 5’3” frame, which actually ends up being 38 litres, not the full 40 litres. (The medium/large backpack is 40 litres.)

I also purchased a small anti-theft handbag to take with me, the PacSafe SlingSafe 200 GII RFID Handbag. And that’s it. Apart from a drink bottle and throw-away travel pillow clipped to my handbag, that’s all I’ll be taking.

I did a trial pack run the other day and this is what my luggage looks like:

This is my best attempt at travelling light: backpack, handbag and drink bottle.

This is my best attempt at travelling light: backpack, handbag and drink bottle.

(Apologies for the poor quality of the photo. I’m typing this blog entry in the car on the way from Canberra to Sydney so I can’t take another picture.)

My pack weighed in at 7.1 kilos, which I think is a fair effort for a first attempt at packing light. Especially considering I’ll be gone for six and a half months and my last weekend trip away saw me lug a 12-kilo suitcase.

And to be honest, I’ve actually over-packed compared to what I was originally planning. I started off by including many ‘nice-to-haves’ with the pack weighing 7.7 kilos. The carry-on limit for most airlines is 7 kilograms, so I started removing and redistributing items until I’d shaved off enough weight.

If push came to shove there’s still a fair bit I could jettison. Although for the time being, if it fits and I’m not too far over the weight limit, my attitude is why not throw it in? I guess I haven’t quite fully embodied the ‘pack light’ mentality yet but I’m working on it.

I’ll try to find some time tonight to document the final list of what’s in my pack as I think it will be interesting to see how much of this changes as the trip goes on.

Only one more sleep to go!


The countdown approacheth the pointy end

27 Jan

“Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.”

~ Thomas Jefferson

My ‘public’ countdown started at 99 more sleeps, however I started my ‘private’ countdown at 175 sleeps to go. I didn’t want people to think I was too much of a keen bean, so I waited until I was only looking at double digits before making any overt countdown announcements

At 17 more sleeps, we’re now starting to get down to the wire and my ‘must-get-organised-NOW’ instincts are really starting to kick in.

I’ve spent most of the weekend methodically working through a ‘to do’ list longer than my arm. I’ve banned myself from all social activities so I can focus on getting organised for my trip.

This was a big call to make on the Australia Day long weekend, where BBQs, parties and other AusDay events are a dime a dozen, but it’s only Sunday night and already know I made the right call. As I cross off each item on my ‘to do’ list I can practically feel another knot in my neck and shoulder muscles unkink itself.

My beloved little blog has been a bit neglected of late, although that hasn’t stopped me from writing multiple posts in my head. It’s getting crowded in there! I’m hoping to set aside a little time each night over the next week to get them down on paper, so to speak.

In the meantime, here’s a video of what I imagine I may also be like (just hopefully not quite so extreme) if I get to see a sloth in Honduras:

(Thanks to Carole for pointing me in the direction of this video. Love it!)

A pre-emptive strike: Update 2

4 Jan

“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward—it’s a punishment.”

~ Drew Carey

It’s been six weeks, so time for another update about my ‘pre-emptive strike on rice and beans’.

Today’s assessment at the gym had me quite literally running into the change rooms afterwards and doing a happy dance. Despite the recent Christmas and New Year celebrations, this time I’ve still managed to lose 3 kilos and reduce all my body measurements by 1–2.5cms.

I’m also starting to fit back into clothes I haven’t worn for 12, 18, and even 24 months. Most importantly, I feel healthier, fitter and stronger than I have in ages.

I keep getting asked what diet I’m on, but I’m actually not on one. I’ve just been:

  • seriously boosting the amount of vegetables I eat
  • increasing my protein intake (because of the amount of exercise I’m doing)
  • drinking a truckload of water
  • controlling the size of my portions
  • monitoring and limiting (but not eliminating) less healthy foods, particularly anything that contains sugar.

And that’s it. It’s been a bit of a slapdash, haphazard approach, but it seems to be working for me. My good results to date are actually probably more of an indication of just how bad my eating habits were before, as opposed to any crazy or radical change now.

I’m hoping that my new healthy habits will not only put me in good stead for the change of diet coming my way in Honduras, but that I’ll also be able to continue most of them while travelling. I guess I’ll find out how possible this is once I’m on the road.

40 more sleeps to go!

Impatient Em is impatient

30 Dec

“…of all the hardships a person had to face none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
~ Khaled Hosseini

For those wondering about what sort of work I’ll be doing in Honduras, where I’ll be living and what my host family will be like… Join the club! I’m president, treasurer and secretary.

I’m still waiting for these details to come through from AFS. In an ideal world I’d find out before I leave Australia on 13 February. The program in Honduras doesn’t start until 22 February though, so there’s actually a fair chance I may  already be on the road in Mexico when the details come through.

Which will make for a rather interesting arrival: Hello Honduras! I don’t know where I’m living or what I’m doing, but I’m happy to be here.

I did find out quite a while ago which organisation I’ve been assigned to volunteer with, but I wanted to wait until I had more details before blogging about it. Seeing as I may not have these details any time soon I figure now’s as good a time as any to announce that I’ll be working with UNICEF Honduras.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with my placement. Ever since I found out I have been stalking their Facebook page and website relentlessly to try and get an idea of how they operate and what I might be working on. UNICEF’s mission is to build a world where the rights of every child are realised, so I’ll be happy to help them out in any capacity I can.

The head office is in Tegucigalpa, the capital city, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that this is where I’m likely to be based too. If I’m completely honest living in the capital scares me a little as:
a) I’m a bit of a country bumpkin at heart so smaller cities are my preference, and
b) it’s got a pretty ‘interesting’ reputation in terms of crime.

However I’m determined to approach everything next year with a positive attitude and a ‘let’s make lemonade’ approach.

According to Wikipedia Tegucigalpa (Tegus for short) has a population of about 1.2 million people. This makes it larger than Canberra and Blumenau (where I lived in Brazil) but smaller than Sydney or Puebla (where I lived in Mexico). So on reflection, this could be a good size for me. Not too big, not to small. A Goldilocks city size.

The other great news is that because of Tegus’ high altitude it’s still considered as having a tropical climate but it’s less humid than the lower valleys and coastal regions of Honduras. Considering my aversion to hot weather this could work out very nicely for me indeed.

As soon as I hear anything more about the sort of work I’ll be doing with UNICEF, where I’ll be living and who my host family is, you’ll all be the first to know. For the time being though we’re all just going to have to be patient. *sigh*

45 sleeps to go!