The things we carry can tell a lot about a person, especially when traveling and what you can tote on your back becomes a turtle shell, housing all that us important to your survival. While I yearn to travel lightly (sort of), and practice detachment from my material possessions (good luck), I am also really into preparedness. During this kind of prep period I become slightly obsessed with organization. I put myself mentally through extreme situations – will I have the right gear?
For me, getting geared up is half the fun. And what is the right gear without the right container to put it in? What is Burning Man without baskets of costumes pieces, or rafting the Deschutes without a soft cooler filled with beer and sandwich fixings and a watertight container for dry goodies? Honestly, I’m completely obsessed with containers. Pairing the correct container with the perfect item gives me a sense of satisfaction akin to that of a matchmaker. Tupperware bins, glass latch-lid jars, Altoids tins, wooden boxes, Crown Royal Pouches, picnic baskets and satchels of all sizes… you name it I’ve put something in it that fits it just so.
A Brief Nod to Bags–
I am in love with my backpack. It’s nothing fancy, an Eagle Creek mid-size backpack I picked up at REI a couple years ago, but we are a team. I carry it everywhere I go, and it carries all my things and stuff. Just my size, top loading but with a zipper to access the belly of the bag, the right amount and sizes of small pockets; ours is a relationship that lasts. We stick together like glue and go together like peanut butter and jelly… MFEO.
OK, OK, I’ve barely gotten through one post without discussing: fanny packs.
That’s right. For those of you who haven’t been spending time with me these past months and somehow escaped noticing: fanny packs are the wave of the future.
It’s all about being hands-free. Whether walking, dancing, moving or grooving, fanny packs give you complete freedom while keeping all your things and stuff just an arm’s reach away. And the best part is – they don’t have to be ugly! Originally inspired by Miss. Chelsea Dixon’s fanny pack costume piece she made for Burning Man ’08, we have created a line of custom-made fanny packs, disguised and transformed into utilitarian devices and works of art. Kind of in love with my new fanny pack I made for my trip.
And now as to what things and stuff go in the bag? Obviously there are the necessities, like clothes and toiletries but I wanted to skip the basics but take time to mention a few items I wouldn’t leave without:
- an ipod (duh) with tons of new music to explore while sitting on buses, trains, planes, boats and in automobiles. (Thanks Travis and Chelsea for new tunes!)
- a microfiber towel. I was a little late to discover this and after drying off with my sweatshirt or paying for towel fees at hostels, I am in love with my new fast-drying towel that folds into its own teeny bag. Perfect!
- a sarong is great for bringing to the beach so you can keep your towel sand and salt free. Also doubles as a blanket or fashion forward beach wear.
- alarm clock. After traveling through Europe for a month with no alarm clock or phone to speak of, I will never make that mistake again. Time is everything when you are catching some form of transport on the daily.
- a flat drain plug that will fit over any tub or sink drain lets you hand wash your clothes or enjoy a hot bath.
- a Swiss army knife. From opening bottle of wine, to getting out a splinter, to making a picnic a piece of cake, Swiss army knives are the ultimate tool.
- a small notebook that can be easily carried in a pocket, purse, or fanny pack. Keeping schedules, flights, destinations, contact information and inspiration all jotted down in one location makes for easy maneuvering and a satisfying stash of info. My favorites are Moleskines and Paperblanks.
For Portlanders seeking good places to shop for supplies:
REI is great, obviously, it has everything by way of high quality camping and travel gear. But my favorite is the US Outdoor Store on SW Broadway, outfitters for any type of outdoor activity, that has a great discount room for clothes and shoes. I had the pleasure of going bikini shopping in mid-winter, and got 50% off a still ample selection of summer wear. The prices were a pleasure, trying on a bikini in mid-winter was not…
I also have a soft spot in my heart for Andy & Bax on Grand, the quirky army supply and camping store. They carry a great selection of headlamps, and a full array of Swiss army knives. I bought my second knife there after forgetting my orginal, Swiss-bought knife in the aforementioned soft cooler when I was rafting the Deschutes.