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Seven Months Abroad; what’s still in my bag

Before I left, I never shared exactly what I was planning to pack. That’s because I didn’t decide until about an hour before leaving for the airport. I also never even made a packing list. For a ubiquitous list-maker, that was a fairly big step to take. But I’d read enough of other people’s packing lists to know what I’d need, and I was going to bring what I wanted regardless.

So after six seven months abroad, what’s still in my bag? What am I happy that I’ve brought & what haven’t I used? This is just a sampling, not a comprehensive list by any means.

JEANS: I’d read from some travelers that packing jeans is a waste of space. That’s stupid. I love wearing jeans so why would I leave them behind? I brought just one pair (it’s enough — I don’t mind wearing them for weeks on end). It’s a hip enough pair that I can wear it out clubbing in Spain or to stay warm in Jerusalem. Thankfully it’s a quality pair as well so there aren’t any holes in it yet (how unlike me!). I also brought a second pair of pants—not jeans and not slacks. Something nice enough to wear for something formal (like the Indian wedding I went to in Aligarh, UP) but also light enough to wear for a day out in Cairo.

GONE MISSING: Six months in a 65-liter backpack can do a lot of damage. Frantic, late-morning packing when you’re hungover and checking out of your hostel late also creates problems. Here’s what’s been lost, misplaced or destroyed (nothing stolen) so far:

  • 1 pair of socks, lent to a friend in India and soon forgotten
  • 2 pairs of underwear (where?!)
  • cotton pajama pants
  • 1 t-shirt in Israel (no idea which)
  • 1 pair of shorts. I tried mending them myself but I think they’re beyond repair this time around

ADDED TO MY BAG: I’ve gained a few t-shirts, lots of souvenirs here in India, a pair of running shoes in Spain that I’ve used once and a wall-charger for my iPod (can’t believe I didn’t bring one with me). Also: a lot of dirt, sand, dust and bits of paper.

SHOES: When I left, I brought a pair of Converse and a pair of flip-flops. Besides a pair of running shoes that I bought in Spain and worn once (maybe twice?), I’ve only worn those two shoes over the past seven months. As you can imagine, my Converse are in a sorry, sorry state: the cloth is torn on both shoes, the laces are stretched and withering, the soles worn down and the rubber peeling. But they’re as comfortable as ever and I’m not ready to give up on the pair.

COMPUTER: I purposely brought my old college laptop with me, a 6-year-old PowerBook G4. I didn’t want a new computer for fear of it being stolen or lost. And I didn’t want to buy a new netbook because I figured I’d want to use my Adobe software while abroad. But (and I wear I’m 100% serious here), while typing this post in its original first draft a month ago, it died. Hard drive, startup disk failure. Or something. The computer, six years old, wouldn’t turn on for days. I threw it in my bag, thinking I could get to Delhi and either repair it enough to sell it, or just dump it there. After a few days, however, it’s since turned back on (and failed once more as well), but it’s working again (albeit slowly). I’m going to hold onto it for the meantime and hopefully I can sell it for some cash (maybe just a beer) in another month or two. I also am desperately wishing I had a netbook for its small size, light weight and battery life.

OTHER ELECTRONICS: I also brought my cheap mobile phone from America, unlocked of course. It’s been a good thing to have and I’m glad I’ve bought SIM cards in some of the countries I’ve visited (Spain, Israel, India) because it’s helpful for meeting up with Couchsurfers and other folks. My Flip video camera has been less useful. I hardly have it with me and never remember it. My camera, a Canon G10, has been through a lot, and though it still works fine, the lens is a bit dirty and, I think, scratched. Thankfully my friend who I was traveling India with gave me his point-and-shoot when he left so I could at least take some decent photos again. My iPod Touch, I’ve already said a million times, is absolutely, positively the most useful thing I’ve brought. Just wish I had the new one with the built-in camera.

  1. dude somebody stole your underwear? wtf?

  2. always nice and useful to see what others find useful and not so useful when backpacking….thanks for the update!

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