It has been quite some time since we’ve posted on the blog, but if you follow us on Facebook, you should have a good idea of what we have been doing and what we will be doing this summer. Bob and I are going to walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. If we have any stamina left, we will do it again, but on a much shorter route, from Oporto in Portugal. That will be our holiday.
Neither of us are particularly religious, so we won’t be doing it for that reason. (I frankly don’t get how St James the Defender and slayer of the Moors, and worshiping his supposed relics is supposed to be a good thing). However, we have both been working very hard since we came back from South America in April 2014 and we are both in desperate need of a break. We had been doing a lot of walking last summer on the weekends, but not so much this past winter. It was too wet and cold. While I was working in an office the past year, Bob has been decorating and doing some minor renovations on our house. He is in the last throws of finishing off the kitchen. We will only have one more room to complete, but that will have to wait until we come back from our walk. Both of us have been rather exhausted; me from the monotony of working at a computer and staring at spreadsheets all day, and Bob from all of the hard work he has been doing all by himself on the house. I think he might have had the better deal as at least it has been creative. So walking a pilgrimage route, even though it may not be for religious reasons, might allow us some time for contemplation and to regain some balance into our lives that we had been missing while working our butts off.
We hadn’t put up a packing list when we went to South America. That was a bit slack of us. Sorry. In any event, I am posting what I am taking and then Bob will post what he is taking. While packing my bag, I couldn’t believe how heavy it was compared to what we had taken to South America, even though I am carrying less things. As far as technology goes, we are only taking our i-phones. It has a camera, can be used for the internet, and people can text us if there is an emergency. As we will be staying mainly in the Albergues/hostels, we do not expect that we will be able to charge up our equipment on a regular basis considering that we are going to be dorming it rather than having a private room every night. Some of the objects of our trip is to connect with others, nature and each other rather than the internet.
Here is what is going into the main part of my bag.
- I have 5 tops: 1 short sleeved shirt with sun/insect protector, 1 long-sleeved merino wool, 1 short-sleeved merino wool, 1 merino wool tank top, and 1 sheer top for going out
- I have 2 trousers: 1 pair turns into a pair of shorts, and 1 cropped for going out or if it’s hot
- 3 pairs of sports undies (one is merino wool)
- 2 pairs of Thousand Mile interlined walking socks, 1 pair sports socks and 1 pair compression socks if my legs get overloaded or I have to fly for any reason
- 1 extra bra, not shown.
- 1 pair of Merino wool leggings for if it gets cold or to use as PJs.
- 1 one-piece swimsuit
- 1 lightweight fleece with hood and zippered pockets
- 1 travel towel, large
- 1 self-inflating pillow
- 1 pair of waterproof sandals
All of the clothes, except for the sandals, fit into the red cube bag. The other little bag contains all of my toiletries.
The toiletries bag fits under my sandals. What’s in the toiletries bag?
- 1 pack of baby wipes – these are great if you can’t shower or limited access to TP
- Panty liners – every woman should have these, especially if you need to relieve yourself outdoors. I had a rant about women leaving TP everywhere when out in nature. Don’t leave anything behind. These are great for drip drying or when it’s too hot or when you can’t shower. Women of a certain age will know what I mean.
- Lush soap bars. A little goes a long way and is great for washing hair, body and clothes. Plus, they smell great. We each have our own.
- Toothpaste, small, that I got free from the dentist. (I also got one for Bob)
- Battery operated toothbrush. We love our electric toothbrushes, but we may not be able to charge up regularly and you can purchase batteries everywhere. I am not even going to have a conversation about recycling and the environment and batteries. I need to maintain good dental hygiene and that is my choice.
- Deodorant. We might share it.
- Assorted hair items for putting up my hair now that it is long.
- Moon cup. Although I am at that time in my life, it has been necessary and I don’t want to be caught short.
- Q-tips, vaseline, small thing of hair conditioner, body lotion, sunscreen, assorted drugs, nail clippers and file, sewing kit (Bob is carrying the first-aid kit and bandages, plus what ever else he needs.)
The self-inflating pillow is underneath the clothes bag and the towel is packed on the side.
Here is the bag all done up. I have two 500ml bottles for water, a sleeping bag with water-proof cover, and a bad-ass military poncho that can double up as a ground sheet, if necessary. The cute little blue bag hanging off the back is the rain cover. I will also have a solar powered charger for my phone.
In the inside of my day pack I have two hats, my Tilly hat and my llama wool hat from Peru. I also have a pair of water-proof gloves, a neck gator, a pair of water-proof trousers, a super light-weight down vest, knee brace and some other essentials for emergencies. I will also carry my water-proof jacket in there when I don’t need it or if I get too hot. I still need to attach my walking sticks to the side of the bag. This bag weighs, with water bottles filled, about 10-11k. That is the max you can have if you took it on a plane. I still need to pack 2 pairs of reading glasses and a pair of sunglasses.
As I stated earlier, I am taking fewer (and lighter) items, but my bag still only weighed 8-9k when we went to South America. I was carrying a netbook, a kindle, a camera, a pair of trainers and had more clothes. I couldn’t understand it. We have to be prepared for all sorts of weather, even in Europe. Our main concern with weather will be rain, hence the heavy duty rain gear. We only had cheap ponchos before and no waterproof trousers. I think the poncho weighs almost the same as the sleeping bag, which is about 2K. Bob likes to be prepared just in case we need to sleep outdoors, or if we want to. Also, the two water bottles weigh about a kilo when filled up with water. They will need to be filled constantly. I wanted to take a pair of jeans for non-trekking days and going out, but they were still too heavy compared to my vibrant turquoise cropped walking trousers. I bought a nice lightweight top from Laura Ashley for going out in and which can be layered with a couple of my other tops. Everything is color coordinated and washes and dries easily. I may be trekking, but I still want to look good doing it and I don’t want to look scruffy if we want to go somewhere nice.
Bearing in mind we will be carrying our bags every mile along our route this time, we realised that when we were traveling in South America, we only had to carry our bags to the bus stations. After we got over our initial anxiety of wanting to keep everything with us all of the time (which just was not practical sometimes), we would check our bags in the hold and we wore our heaviest items at that time. This was pretty much necessary as it could get quite cold on the buses. During this trip, we will be carrying our bags every step of the way and I need to keep the weight to the absolute minimum. I have gone over everything and I cannot possibly think of one thing to get rid of. Everything is extremely light-weight, but it all adds up.
As well as the clothes in our bag, we will have the clothes on our back. I will start out with a pair of walking trousers that zip off below the knee, a merino wool t-shirt (purple) and a long-sleeved traveling shirt, in light purple. I am not taking my high-top walking boots this time as most of the terrain will be not be rough or on trails. I have a great pair of Merrell walking/trekking shoes that are extremely comfortable and waterproof. I might regret it, but right now they are the most comfortable pair of walking shoes I own, are very sturdy, and fit me like a glove.
So, that’s what is in my bag. I might change a few things, but as I’ve re-packed several times now, but I think this might be it. It will be Bob’s turn to post something next.