Tag Archives: packing

Preparation and Liftoff

We spent the first 2 weeks of January getting ready to depart.  Actually, we scrambled to complete what we needed to while making time to spend with family and friends.  Why is it that regardless of the amount of time we have to prepare for a journey, the last few weeks are always crazy?  Why do we always leave exhausted?

We outfitted our motorhome with the essentials, working off an inventory of the S&M Motel that we compiled before leaving Europe.  Diane bought those items that she could from charity stores (pots, utensils, cups, etc.)  We retrieved what we could from our storage locker, but were restricted to items in the first 10 feet due an impenetrable maze of interlocking furniture and persistent wet weather.  We frequented dollar stores to find storage containers, wine glasses, and other odds and ends.  We bought one set of sheets and a comforter from our niece Dara’s shop.

We loaded our motorhome in the driveway of Diane’s brother Wayne’s house, where we had stayed during our intermission back in Canada (in the house, not in the driveway).

RV that appears to be deep in the snow

Snowed in!

White RV in a driveway with snow on the ground

It’s not as deep as it looks!

Basically, we tried to get the essentials before leaving home, but left the non-critical and more expensive items to acquire in the United States along the way, hopefully at a lower cost.

We had planned to leave on January 14th, but stayed an extra day to support a friend.  We had our last early morning coffee with our sister-in-law Tania, and began our final packing and preparations.  We wanted to get on the road as early as possible, but as usual, things were taking longer than planned.  We switched from careful packing to a stuff-and-go strategy.  I really didn’t want to still be there when Tania got home from work!  We finally got going around 2:30 PM and went first to our storage locker to drop some things off, then to our house to pick up some mail, and finally to a bike store in Langley to buy a cover for the bikes on our rear bike rack.  It turned out that in order to install the cover we had to remove both the bikes and the rack.  And so it was that I found myself kneeling in a parking lot at 5 PM in the dark under a light drizzle, wondering if we’d ever get on the road.

With the dark gray bike cover on, we found that our license plate and tail lights were completely hidden.  We couldn’t do anything about this safety hazard (and guaranteed ticket generator) at the time, but apparently we thought that yelling at each other in the parking lot might help.  We did drive to The Unique World of Princess Auto to buy a reflective safety triangle, similar to what was on the back of the S&M Motel, then I went back in to the store to buy some duct tape to attach it.  I mistakenly bought camouflage duct tape, and the irony of attaching a high-visibility reflector with camouflage tape was not lost on me.

At 7 PM we crossed the border into the United States.  I thought there was a good chance we’d be stopped there because our license plate and tail lights weren’t visible.  Fortunately the cameras at the border that read license plates are at the front.  We crossed successfully, and drove south on I-5 for a couple of hours, stopping at the Walmart in Lynnwood where I’d stayed a couple of weeks earlier.  It was late, and our RV was still winterized, so we went out for dinner to the 13th Avenue Pub & Eatery for our first greasy, delicious American meal (Philly cheese steaks and beer!)

Once more into the breach…

And so it is that we find ourselves embarking on an extended journey.   After months of preparations, my wife and I are setting out to explore a new corner of the world.  This time, it’s Europe.

Although we were very happy to return from our last big trip in 2009 (ten months through the Middle East, Africa,India, andSouth East Asia), we knew almost right away that we’d like to travel again.  This time, a terrific option presented itself, an offer from friends to borrow their motorhome in Europe.  This would make seeing a lot of Europe feasible at a manageable cost.  And since neither of us has ever been to Europe before, other than a few days in London last trip and two days for Patrick in port on an educational cruise when he was in high school, it was an offer so generous and too good to turn down.

At the airport

At the airport

We flew out of Vancouveron Saturday, September 3rd, arriving in Vienna, Austria via Frankfurt.  We almost missed our connecting flight in Frankfurt, scrambling to collect our checked bags, then check-in again on Berlin Air, one of the many European discount airlines, before racing to our gate where everyone else had already boarded.  This was similar to our experience in Qatar two years ago when an over-zealous security agent , insistent on reclaiming the tweezers from the bottom of Patrick’s backpack, instigated a mad dash through the airport.

We’ve wanted to travel in Europe for many years.  I’ve always wanted to see the great cities ofEurope, home of the characters of yore.  The grand cathedrals, the brooding castles, and the historic battlegrounds patrolled by the spirits of the fallen.  The great works of art and architecture.  I’ve longed to meet the people, and experience the rich and varied cultures.  My wife has an incessant desire to see Paris, something she reminds me of regularly.  She’s also really looking forward to experiencing the food of Europe, including extravagant repasts, regional specialities, and humble (and often most desirable) street foods.

Our gear for this trip

The logistical requirements of leaving on a long trip are not trivial.  We arrived exhausted after months of preparation, including the frenzied last month when we packed our entire house and moved it to storage, rented this house to a nice couple from Texas, and arranged and packed for our trip, all while preparing for and completing the Ironman triathlon on August 28th, 2011.  Despite having traveled before, our life continues to evolve and every trip is different, and it ended up being more work than anticipated.  The support of family and friends was invaluable and greatly appreciated.  As a result, we’re now here recovering, with little idea of where we’re going or what we’ll be doing.  Sometimes this is the best way to begin.

Our gear packed

Our gear packed

We will share our journey with you on DreamBigLiveBoldly.com.  We welcome your thoughts, feedback, and suggestions as we progress.  We hope that you enjoy yourselves and thank-you for participating.

Preparation — Diane’s Perspective

To say the last month has been stressful would be a bit of an understatement. As Patrick already told you in his blog post, things have been a bit crazy for us. He has worked extremely hard getting things ready for our trip, finalizing stuff for his parents’ estates, etc. Yes, we’ve done lots of shopping which under any different circumstances, I would say would be terrific. However, with a list that measures as long as the height of Kilimanjaro (4 miles), I don’t think that even Paris Hilton could go the distance. One list after another and I thought that I might lose my mind. After organizing, sorting and reviewing several times it was afternoon on Saturday (departure day) and we were finally ready to start packing. I must say that even I was a bit impressed with our ability to get everything into two 38 litre packs. This really was due to Patrick’s attention to detail and endless lists, but boy oh boy it was a tough process for me. You will need to check back with me in a few months to see how I am faring with only one pair of shoes, a pair of sandals, and limited clothing.

Patrick and I had lots of help from family and friends in preparing for our world adventure. I want to tell you all again how much we appreciate your support along the way. Even my precious Skyler thought he should test out my new down North Face jacket for comfort and warmth. I think he thought that it would pass the test. What do you think?

Patrick and I also tested out our stuff by washing and wearing it several times to make sure that everything fit right and would be appropriate for our trip.

Waxing our boots with the use of Kevin’s hot air gun worked great and hopefully this will keep the rain/snow out when we climb Kili.

But by far for me, the most challenging part of preparing for this trip was saying goodbye to family and friends. The goodbye parties were greatly appreciated and we both feel extremely privileged to have such great family and friends. We love you all and will miss you.

I know that we are blessed to have an opportunity to embark on such a fabulous adventure and we are both looking forward to sharing our experiences with you. I am sure that I will be feeling home sick much sooner than later so please feel free to post your comments and send email.

Until next time, lots of love,
Diane

Preparation

By Patrick

The last few months have been extremely busy and stressful for me. Getting ready for this trip, in addition to the many other things going on in my life, has been exhausting. It has been the most sustained period of intensity and hard work I’ve ever experienced. The last month especially has been a whirlwind –- my father’s memorial; my parents’ estates; setting up our lives so they run on auto-pilot while we’re away; planning, shopping, and packing for our trip; gathering information from other travelers and connections; and good-byes with family and friends. I’ve been running on about 5-6 hours of sleep a night for the last month, and busy every other minute. There are bags on the bags under my eyes!

In order to have any chance of making it, I tracked the key activities on a spreadsheet. Here are the final stats:
· Completed – 219
· Canceled – 41
· Do when we return – 26
· Ask Diane’s sister Shelly to complete – 5
· Do while traveling – 6

Perhaps the most frustrating and tiring was the shopping for our travel items. After about the 20th trip, even Diane said that she was tired of shopping! I’m pretty sure that this has never happened before.

And what did we pack you ask? Well, I have a list of that also, of course, but I won’t bore you with it. Here are pictures of everything we brought – before and after packing.

Before….

And presto, chango, ala kazamm… after!


Our packs are about 18 pounds each when configured for flight, and easily passed the carry-on test.

The time spent planning, shopping, and packing was all to achieve our goal of having the smallest packs possible. Benefits include:
· easier to carry, especially in the heat
· the ability to walk and carry our packs ourselves, rather than needing transport or assistance
· no checked baggage means no lost bags during flights, and no need to wait for bags in airports
· no risk of losing bags off bus roofs or by theft while in transport
· the ability to carry our bags while visiting attractions en-route between locations, if necessary.
Anyhow, I’m so glad that all the prep is done and that we’re finally on the road. I’ll probably need a week or 2 to recover, but I’m confident that it will all have been worth it in the end.

Thanks to everyone who supported us over the last few months. Your assistance is greatly appreciated, and helped to make our trip possible.

Patrick