Today was box day in our house! Wooo hooo! Normally this means exciting things like new curriculum but today our friendly neighbourhood postie brought our parcel from Uncommon Scents. I have to say I am loooooooooving all things Badger. Mmmmm. Badger Balm. Mmmmm.
Then we went to the shops and stocked up on a few travel supplies. Can’t decide which glue stick to take. The pressure!
Some might call it obsessive compulsive, I prefer to call it “being prepared”. I was very pleased to find this little stash of packing goodies at my local Safeway. For sure, I knew they’d have the zip lock bags. I just bought them now in case there’s a worldwide shortage mid 2009. (Meh, ziplock bags are so 2008) That would be bad. (And I don’t think it’s rampant paranoia, the local supermarkets do seem to discontinue everything else we like). Plus I guess reading all of the airport security websites got through to my subconscious. “This is your subconscious speaking, you neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed zip lock bags” (See it’s loud). Anyway, checkout the microfibre face cloths! For a fraction of the price of the ones in camping stores. Yeah, I have to admit I don’t think there’s a big weight difference between a regular flannel and a microfibre one, but in the spirit of keeping things light, and on the off chance we bump into Rick Steves and there is a packing inspection, I thought it was worth a dollar. “Epic fail: you cannot possibly have a blog on packing light when you don’t even have a microfibre face cloth”. And don’t you love the happy toothbrush covers? Seriously, that has to make for happy campers.
[amtap amazon:asin=1580087833] The sub title of “The Packing Book” is, “secrets of the carry-on traveller”. I bought it partly because of this by-line but also because I’m a sucker for a good list. While a lot of the information is a avaliable places like the Rick Steves website, I have picked up a few handy tips. The first was a different brand of fold up luggage cart. We’d decided on the Samsonite micro mover but I was having trouble finding one. I was actually extremly relieved to read that the author, Judith Gilford, recommended luggage carts, as I was having second thoughts about our choice of wheel-less luggage. The brand Gilford recommends can carry two to three times as much weight wise. I’m watching one on eBay at this very moment.
Gilford also has a great packing method called ‘the bundle method’. This looks like it will work really well. If you want to know how this works, you’ll have to get the book.
Gilford also had an interesting list of travel gizmos. One of these was a white noise generator. I’m a light sleeper and noise bothers me, so I thought I’d check these out on Amazon. Guacamole! They retail for about $80+ US dollars. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology there are at least three free iPhone apps that generate white noise and relaxing sounds. Well, depending on your definition of relaxing and whether or not you have a weak bladder!!!! There are also a couple of free podcasts as well as complete albums for purchase. Sounds like a much better idea to me! Get it? Sounds like? Oh never mind…
In Homeschooling land, box day is when the boxed curriculum you ordered finally turns up in the mail. Our box day was a little different – all of our Rick Steve’s luggage turned up! It kind of counts as curriculum materials seeing as it is going to contribute to the education of the Applets, right?
We decided in for a penny, in for a pound with the Rick Steves luggage. We wanted to be able to maximise the amount of packing space, while keeping things light. We also hope it will last us a while and that one day the Applets may use it to do their own tours of Europe.
It wasn’t until I had the slate blue bag on my bag that I suddenly realised how very Star Trek the colours of the bags are. How appropriate for boldly going!
One of the most influential travel guides I have read when researching this trip, is Rick Steves’ Europe through the Back Door. [amtap book:isbn=1598801082] Rick Steves seems to have a huge fan base and I think it’s entirely justified.
One of the key concepts is being less “touristy”. This means travelling off the beaten path, viewing the main sites – but doing it efficiently, and taking more time just to experience everyday life in Europe. This has really influenced our decision making process. It’s a terrible confession but we may not do every major monument in Europe! What’s more, we are trying to reduce the number of each type of tourist attraction. I suspect where we will bomb out on badly will be the theme parks and the museums, but the rest will be strictly rationed. We will be saving our sight seeing for a few select castles, and a few select cathedrals etc. I am thinking we can do without an hours journey each way just to see the leaning tower of Pisa. I know! I know! Total sacrilege! But I also figure the kids will get bitten by the travel bug, and that there will be plenty of time for them to come back and see the big monuments.
The other influential concept is to pack light. Rick Steves’ heavily promotes the idea of only taking carry-on luggage. I will talk some more about this in later posts. What we did decide very early on is that we were also going to be committed to taking over only carry-on luggage. Note: I did not say there we will not bring stuff back. I think this is an important distinction considering the last time we flew back from the UK I had several rolls of wallpaper border and a Winnie The Pooh lamp shade from Mothercare tucked into my suitcase. Or rather, taking up most of my suitcase.
I just put that in there as I was having a nostalgia moment and so that you can see how smuggle worthy Winnie the Pooh is. Luckily for SGM, we now have entirely halogen lighting, which diminishes the need to bring back random light fittings. The rest of this however, I consider fair game…