Monday, March 9, 2015

Another week closer to China for us!

Most of the planning has been done at this point, at least as far as where we’ll go, what we’ll do, how we’ll get there, and where we’ll stay. So this past week began the shift to actual preparations for the plans we’ve put into place.

Minimalist packing is high at the top of the prep list. I have hauled bulging suitcases and overstuffed backpacks to destinations around this country often enough to know I do not want to do it in a foreign country, where travel etiquette and courtesy are nearly non-existent. Fortunately there are lots of helpful blogs and websites devoted to traveling light, so I’ve collected some good tips, not only on what to take, but how to take it. The first thing I did was order this suitcase, which is really just a soft-sided bag.

Only 30 bucks, and it is the exact same dimensions as my regular carry-on size suitcase-on-wheels! But instead of the wheels and extending handle, it has a regular handle at the top center, plus a shoulder strap; but the really neat thing is the pocket on the backside that unzips to release two hidden padded backpack straps. I love that! And since I’m packing light I should be able to withstand the weight long enough to get from place to place. Oh! The other great thing about this bag is that it only weighs 1.5 lbs. when it is empty. My other suitcase is nearly 7 lbs. before I even put anything in it! I also got one for Cameron, and after Steve saw ours, he decided to order one too.

My keywords for clothing on this trip are “thin & lightweight.” If it isn’t that, it doesn’t go. Cameron & Steve keep rolling their eyes at me. I say, “Sure, roll your eyes at me, but just don’t forget to roll your clothes when you pack.” Yes, rolling clothes is the way to go, along with a couple small mesh packing cubes for organizing. I also have a really “thin & lightweight” toiletry bag that unzips so you can hang it from a towel rack. Minimal stuff will go in there too, but we’ve been advised to buy any OTC drugs and remedies here, to take with us, rather than trying to buy there. If the labeling isn’t clear we could end up buying the wrong thing, or sometimes the Chinese version of a product we can buy here is not necessarily the same.

Fortunately, our doctor has also given us a supply of antibiotics to take with us if we happen to pick up any gastric agitators while we’re traveling. You cannot drink the water. Bottled water is plentiful, but Cameron is excited about the prospect of going to a place where Coke is considerably better and safer for him than water. He plans to drink it with every meal – strictly as a health measure, of course.

So, until we can actually start packing, we are reading guide-books and watching videos on youtube, so we won’t be totally bewildered when we get there. We watched one yesterday called  “9 Reasons Why You Got Robbed While Traveling.”

We have been told that crime in China is very low, but pickpockets and scams are everywhere, especially at a lot of the touristy sites we’ll be visiting. After years of trying to teach Cameron to be helpful and polite, he’s going to have to learn some new skills in self-preservation and being rude for all the right reasons. This also circles back to traveling light – the less stuff you have to haul around, the easier you can maneuver away from situations you need to get out of quickly.

Have I mentioned my favorite quote about traveling? It’s this:

“To travel far, carry less.”

It’s a slight variation from a book about hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, 
(Something else I would like to do!) called
 To Walk Far, Carry Less

22 days to go!

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