No Junk In The Trunk

Next month, I leave on my Global Expeditions trip to India, Nepal and Tibet. It promises to be a very active trip, with most of our time spent in the Himalayas. At 17 days, this will be my longest sojourn outside the U.S., with temperatures ranging from toasty at the Taj Majal to frosty at Mount Everest base camp.

On this type of trip, the number of bags you can bring is limited: no room for junk in the trunk. Here’s my current packing strategy. I would love to hear your tips for packing for a longer, active, multi-climate trip abroad.

It Begins With The Bags

On my trip to Peru, I learned the benefits and flexibility of traveling with a large duffel bag instead of hard-sided luggage. This time around, I’m taking a large, red, Base Camp duffel from North Face (easy to spot in the many instances when I’ll need to fish it out from a large pile of luggage). Bag number two is a combo backpack/roll aboard by Eagle Creek. The zip-off day pack is perfect for day hikes.

Since duffels lack internal compartments, I bought several packing cubes from eBags. These are great for storing and easily locating smaller items like electronics that tend to get lost in a large bag, and for separating dirty clothes from clean.

My Beautiful Laundrette

Speaking of dirty clothes, a friend suggested bringing a travel clothesline and detergent for doing laundry while on the road. This is a fantastic idea that will allow me to pack fewer clothes. I’ll be taking a latex clothesline and laundry kit (which includes a sink stopper) from Lewis ‘N Clark.

One trick to make this work is to pack clothes made from quick-dry fabrics. There’s an abundance of choices these days. Patagonia and REI have large selections of quick-dry travel clothes. Another option is Sierra Trading Post, a web site with an enormous selection of clothing at discounts of 35 to 70 percent.

It’s All About The Benjamins … Or Rupees

I’m very excited about Day 5 of our trip, which will be in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Jeff and Kevin (the owners of Global Expeditions) have advised that “this is a great day to pick up supplies for our trip to Tibet, such as inexpensive warm clothing.” To shop in Kathmandu, I’ll need to have the local currency: Nepalese rupees. For India, I’ll need Indian rupees. And for Tibet, I’ll need Chinese renminbi. For the best exchange rate, I’ll go to my bank in Chicago before heading to Asia.

Bad Hair Days

Dealing with your hair on active trips is always a challenge. This time around, I invested in a couple of colorful buffs. These are tubes of fabric made from breathable, wicking fabric that convert into about a dozen different headbands and hats. Here’ s fun video about different ways a guy can wear a buff. (Couldn’t find an equally good girls’ version.)

You Never Know When Mr. Right May Appear

Especially on active trips, I like to pack as little make-up as possible. But Jeff and Kevin always have something fun planned for us at night, and you never know when a cute Sherpa might show up. So I was happy to find a travel-size set of organic, combo lip and cheek color sticks (plus a moisturizing stick) by Josie Maran at Sephora.

For moisturizing and sun protection, I like Oil of Olay with SPF. It’s an inexpensive and effective all-in-one. For shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, I’ll use squeezable silicon travel bottles called GoToobs. You can suction them to walls (which comes in handy in unpredictable, foreign hotel situations), and they have a ring that you lift and rotate to identify the contents (Soap, Lotion, Sun, etc.).

Charge It!

To minimize the number of cords in my luggage, I’m bringing a Callpod Chargepod. This cool device allows you to have one charging device with multiple plug-ins for different electronics. I’ll also pack an extension cord with room for three plugs so I can charge multiple devices with a single converter/adapter.

Oh, My Aching Hips

With all the hiking and walking we’ll be doing, my hips will be complaining loudly. To minimize their pain, I’m bringing a Trigger Point Performance Self Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue Massage Quadballer Roller. That’s a mouthful! It’s similar to a foam roller but it’s travel size. I’ll use to roll out my hips, and whatever else hurts, before bed.

Staying Healthy On The Road

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Northwestern Hospital’s Travel Clinic, I got all the shots I need for this trip, along with prescriptions for Diamox (for altitude sickness) and Azithromycin (for Montezuma’s revenge). They also gave me the following warning about monkeys:

“Monkeys may transmit a number of diseases, including rabies and herpes B. Avoid feeding monkeys; if bitten, immediately soak and scrub the bite for at least 15 minutes, and seek urgent medical consultation.”

Darn. There goes my plan to come back from Asia with a cute little vest-wearing capuchin monkey like the one in The Hangover Part II.

I still have time to perfect my packing strategy. If you have any suggestions for minimizing the amount of junk in my travel trunks, I’d love to hear from you….

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