Friday, February 20, 2015

Packing List. Central Asia.

Lucky I just have to pack things and not people as well!  (Photo from gapyear.com)

We've got just a few more weeks to go before we leave on our trip so now's the time to start thinking about packing.  Pat recently showed me her master packing list, developed over decades of travel, and it's remarkably very similar to mine...down to the items for doing laundry!  I take that as another sign that she is the perfect person to partner with me on this trip.


I've already started to gather up some of the items I plan to take with  me.  I'm using the bed in my guest room as temp storage.  Whatever is going with me goes atop the bed.  Thankfully, I won't have any visitors between now and when I leave.

Weather wise, it'll be spring time and a check of the historic temps show highs ranging around the mid-60's and lows in the mid-50's, across pretty much all of the places we'll be going to.  I had thought it would be much colder given the latitude that the countries lie on but I was glad to see we'll have perfect spring time temps!  However, I am expecting spring rain and I would typically bring a long a rain jacket but with all the other stuff I'm lugging with me taking up so much space, I'm contemplating getting a cheap rain poncho instead. 

One lesson I've learned about traveling to remote places is that food is challenging - not only from a taste perspective but also from a quality perspective.  Cases in point - Mongolia, Mali and to a lesser extent, Ethiopia.  I never starved and every now and again, really enjoyed a meal.  Even so, I've had to dip in to a stash of food brought from home.  I fully expect there to be days where my tummy will need relief from eating something not so agreeable or because I've consciously refrained from eating something not so tasty (read *hunger pangs*).   Foodwise, we'll be okay in the big cities but I'm not sure what it will be like when we head to the smaller places.  I'm prepared for a lot of mutton....which I do not like.....not at all.....not even one bite.   So, for this trip, I am actually packing along some food -   granola bars to stave off hunger during long drives; instant oatmeal for those mornings when I might need to settle my stomach, same reason for bringing along some instant mashed potatoes.  Shake your head all you want about the potatoes but I did break in to them when I was in Ethiopia.  My stomach was not quite up to par after I binged out one night on kitfo which is raw beef.  I know, what the hell was I thinking eating raw beef in Ethiopia but what can I say, I love the stuff.  The next day, I ate light most of the day until I got hungry and then it was a meal of plain mashed potatoes.  Perfect, comforting remedy.  Same is true of the instant soup that's coming along for the ride!

I'm also packing in a small travel kettle, collapsible cups and sturdy, plastic cutlery.  Oh....and my trusty can opener.

For this trip, I'm also bringing along a key lock.  This is the result of a lesson learned on my recent Greece/Turkey trip where Bro realized that his suitcase had been broken into - he noticed a zippered compartment that he always keeps closed had been unzipped.  There was no sign the lock having been broken or any tear in his suitcase so it was obvious the the person had the master key to his TSA lock.  Luckily, he never has anything in his suitcase worth stealing.  We were flying from Greece to Turkey so we don't know if the break in happened in Greece or in Turkey.  Whatever was the case, we immediately switched to key locks.   I will use my TSA lock until I arrive in Tashkent and then immediately switchover to a key lock.

Pat and I bought some t-shirts at a souvenir shop in Times Square.  We'll be bringing them along as gifts/tips for the guides and drivers.  I can't tell from our itinerary how many guides/drivers we'll have but with the money issue being so tricky, we're counting on the t-shirts as a backup tip.  Our plan B.

Most importantly, I will be carrying enough US cash to cover the costs of lunches, dinners, tips to the drivers and guides, and whatever incidentals might be needed.  Yuriy has clearly indicated that we cannot rely on ATMs as they exist far and few between in most of the places we'll be traveling.  Even in Tashkent, cash is king.  There's going to be a lot of exchanging of USD to local currency and from one local currency to another.  I'm going to bring along my credit card but leave the debit card at home.

My packing list for this trip is longer than usual but I am determined to make it all fit in my suitcase and for my suitcase to not weigh a ton.  For now, I'm planning to carry my suitcase on board rather than check it in but we'll see how it goes.  I might change my mind if it ends up weighing like a ton of bricks!


The List
  • Trip itinerary
  • Passport, airline tickets and travel documents (all with photocopies)
  • Two passport sized photos.
  • $US cash, credit card
  • Guidebook
  • Rain poncho
  • 4 short sleeve, light cotton shirts
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 long sleeve tunic
  • 2 pair of hiking pants
  • 1 pair of jeans 
  • 1 pair black pants
  • Fleece jacket
  • Lightweight cotton sweater
  • 1 head scarf
  • Underwear and four pairs of socks
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • 1 pair walking shoes
  • 1 pair sandals
  • 1 pair rubber slippers 
  • Toiletries and first aid kit (including Tylenol, Band Aids, Neosporin, lip balm, Immodium AD, Pepto Bismol, Zithromax, Cipro)
  • Sunblock and lotion
  • Toilet paper, handiwipes
  • Flashlight
  • Travel kettle
  • Collapsible cups, plastic cutlery and can opener 
  • Two pairs of reading glasses
  • Nikon dSLR camera, filters, spare batteries, chargers and outlet adapters, external battery, SD cards
  • iPad with SD card reader
  • Pen and notebook
  • iPod
  • Key lock
  • Drain plug, laundry detergent, and plastic clothes pins for drying clothes 
  • Food.
    • 2 packs instant mashed potatoes
    • 8 packs instant oatmeal
    • 8 packs instant soup
    • 12 granola bars
    And last but not least,..... my favorite collapsible tote to bring back all those things that I buy along the way.

    This list is particularly long and I hope I can get it to all  fit in to my suitcase and daypack.  If not, I hope that Pat will have some room in her suitcase :-)