Why did I pack that? Packing regrets.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this regret-filled blog are mine alone.
You may be super happy that you brought a travel clothesline… But I never used mine.
Or the duct tape… Or the travel sewing kit. Or the super glue.
A Tiny Backpack
Encouraged by all the stories of SE Asia packing (It’s always warm so you carry fewer clothes!) I ditched my awesome Eagle Creek roller bag with zip-away backpack straps and put everything in this CamelBak to avoid luggage fees. I ended up buying a 2nd backpack in Vietnam and checking a bag anyways. The luggage fees were usually $10.

Fleece Jacket.

Growing up in the mid-west, I cannot fathom wearing short sleeves for 3 months and never wanting something warmer. So, of course I packed my fleece jacket, in case it got chilly in the mountains or on a boat during my travels. Now I realize that a long sleeve wicking shirt under my Patagonia windbreaker would have been plenty. (The coldest place we went, Sapa, Vietnam is also famous for $15 knock-off North Face jackets in case I had needed a warmer layer.)

Rain Jacket.

I arrived to SE Asia at the tail end of rainy season but my lovely Marmot raincoat was basically worthless for 2 reasons. 1- When it rained, it down poured and it the rain would sluice down my jacket and soak me from the waist down. At least my top half was dry, right? 2- Nope. It is intensely hot and humid so even with my pit-zips opened, there is so much sweat inside the jacket that I’m wet anyways. Next time, I’ll bring an umbrella.

Tummy Meds

SE Asian food is so great. Street cart skewers, giant Vietnamese omelets, spring rolls with shrimps. With a bit of careful eating (no uncooked veggies, only bottled water, no spicy food) I was happily able to avoid any stomach ailments and didn’t need the Gas-X, Cipro or rehydration salts I brought. Even if I needed those things, I could have purchased them at any local Pharmacy. PS- I chose not to risk eating these yummy-looking Popsicles.

First Aid

I used a few Bandaids but haven’t touched anything else in my kit. As with the medications, anything I needed would have been easily purchased at the local shops.

Adapters

I did my research & took 3 different adapters but most outlets work with 2-prong US plugs and 2-pin Euro plugs. I did end up using the 2-pin adapter a few times just to get through the stiffer doors over the outlets.

 

Silk sleep sheet

A small bundle, just bigger than my fist- I figured that the sleep sheet would be perfect for hostels where you had to rent bedding or weren’t sure about the cleanliness of the sheets. But all of the hostels provided bedding (usually no top sheet) and usually towels too. Could have left this at home.

Cotton t-shirts

The heat and intense humidity turned my t-shirts into stretched out, damp messes. I could wear my wicking tanks 3-4 days in a row, but the cotton t-shirts were always slightly damp. I also would have brought fewer tank tops since I couldn’t wear them any day I might be going to a temple where covering shoulders & knees is required.

Sink Plug and Laundry Soap

I planned on washing my essentials in the hostel sinks but soon realized that the humidity prevented my things from drying in a timely manner. Besides, laundry service was $1.5/Kilo and my t-shirts would come back from the dryer their normal shape & smelling good to boot! Additionally, many local women make a living off of tourist laundry.

Cooling Bandana

REI talked me into this purchase: a bandana that absorbed water and cooled you as it evaporated. Unfortunately, there is little evaporation happening during Cambodian heat waves. It was soggy and useless.

Wish I had some Vitamin C/Airborne. More wicking t-shirts. My mesh sided baseball cap. Hair conditioner.

I WAS GLAD THAT I BROUGHT:

So happy to have my Patagonia Hoodini! It’s the perfect layer for early morning bike rides or drizzly evenings.

I used these things almost everyday.

A pen! My ipad mini with a keyboard case. Wi-Fi. (Apps: TrailWallet, Agoda for booking rooms, Ulmon maps, FB, Postagram, Instagram, Podcasts… (Y’all should be binge listening to Serial) and e-books).

A collapsable water bottle. A quick dry bandana. My Patagonia Atom shoulder bag. (It was so handy that Kate bought one when she got home!). My Sherpani zip-close wallet on a strap that my passport fits into. A dry bag/compression sack. My Chaco sandals. Headbands by Jessie. (Ps- please note that my hair was only this shiny and soft when I stayed in Bangkok with Bryan who had Pantene and amazing water pressure! Thanks!)

I was super happy for an old pair of cut-off leggings that were soft & lightweight. I often wore them to bed in the hostels and always wore them under my skirt at the temples. Multiple kinds of sunscreen: Neutragena 70spf face stick and 50spf face lotion. Bug spray. Polarized sunglasses. A Timex watch with a light up face & an alarm. Sleep mask & earplugs are essential for hostel dorms. My headlamp. I ate all my granola bars and fruit leathers! My Lumix LX7 did a fantastic job at being smaller, lighter and cheaper than my Canon 60D but still taking post-worthy photos. (My 1 wicking t-shirt got a lot of air time!)

 

 

 

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How to survive a night in a Capsule Hotel in 5 easy steps.

Trip Date: 9/24/2015
To give you an idea of what its like sleeping inside of a capsule, let’s use our imaginations. Picture two bathtubs stacked on top of eachother (lip to lip) and bolted in place. A large hole has been cut into the end and covered with a retractable screen. Inside, there is a TV bolted to the ceiling and an array of plugs and dials. It looks like someone from the 50’s was asked to create ‘the bed of the future’.
If you are ready to cozy up inside of 2 standard-size bathtubs or 1 refrigerator box, then you’re ready to stay in a Capsule Hotel! Just like ME!
Reasons to stay in a capsule hotel.
It’s usually the cheapest way to sleep in Tokyo. ($25 vs. $85!)

Free amenities. PJ’s are provided Aso, disposable slippers that smell like almond. Free towels.

All the toiletries you could ever use. (Plus the toothbrushes come loaded. Awesome. Why don’t we have that in teh US?)

Great showers! Lots of hot water. Good pressure & it only took a few tries to figure out how to adjust the temp.

The toilet lids are heated, mechanized & play music. (I still have’t figured out what all the buttons do…)
The Wi-Fi is pretty fast! (This is notable: Japan has weak/hard to find WiFi.)

FYI- This capsule hotel has a lot of rules. And rule #1 is no shoes past the entry way. They are super strict and make you lock your shoes in a locker and bring the key to the front desk before you can check in. Also, no eating in your capsule … Or the shower. Seems reasonable so far. They keep everyone out of the hotel every day from 10 am until 4pm, even if you are staying multiple days. They charge $4 to keep something threre from 10-4pm.

I really enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of the capsule hotel. The female guests were Japanese business women, with a few travelers thrown in for good measure. I’d go back!  You should try one.

Posted with BlogsyPosted with Blogsy

22 x 16 x 9: Tales of a disgruntled over-packer.

Hello, I'm Adrienne and I'm a chronic over-packer. I carry snacks, gum, water and Aleve on a daily basis. I usually have my camera and an extra layer to ward off the evening chill. I like to have all my things with me. I don't travel light, I travel prepared.

Now, here I am, deciding that I that SE Asia will be easier to navigate if I succumb to the airline's tiny 22x16x9 carry-on size. Le sigh.

I have been trolling the interwebs, looking for inspirational packing posts like this one- (theartofsimpletravel) where Tsh will be traveling for a whole year with less clothes than I've planned on taking for 3 months. A whole YEAR! Impressive. Maybe I can do this… maaybe.

So far, this is what fits in my carry on. I'll also have a shoulder bag.

 

Clothes

1 rainjacket & my tiny Patagonia windbreaker that I wore all over Europe last fall.

1 jog bra/ 2 other bras

2 pairs of socks / 7 undies

1 pair of pants

1 pair of capris

1 pair of shorts

1 skort

1 over-the-knee length skirt (for visiting temples)

2 tank tops / 2 T-shirts

1 long sleeve shirt (for cool mt. towns)

Chaco sandals (newly resoled in Rockford, Mi!)

Lightweight running shoes

1 hat / 3 headbands

I am planning on buying a scarf (or 4) on my travels

Toiletries

Deodorant, sunscreen, tooth brush & paste, razor, soap, hotel-size shampoo & conditioner, Tweezers & small mirror (gotta keep these eyebrows in check!) Q-tips!

First aid kit

Bandaids: assorted.

Moleskin for blisters

Hydrocortisone cream (for itching)

Triple antibiotic ointment

Digital themometer

1 pair of disposable gloves

Tiny scissors

Duct tape

Electrolyte packets

 

Documents

Traveler insurance info: I'm using World Nomads.

Proof of Vaccinations

Contact Card: Family at home, people in country and places I've reserved to stay in each country

Passport (valid for at least 6 months!), Color copies of my passport, copies of my credit cards

Printed travel itinerary with confirmation #s for flights, etc.

 

Electronics and Randomness

Travel journal & colored pencils

Gum, granola bars & fruit leather

Little gifts like stickers & Michigan-edition quarters

IPad, charger and a ton of really helpful travel apps (listed in this blog post.)

A book to read and trade at a hostel when I'm done.

My tiny new camera the Panasonic Lumix Lx7! It has a Leica lens & full manual controls. Since I'm a Canon girl, this has taken some getting used to- but the photos are coming out lovely! It's SO much smaller!

70 GB of SD cards, Apple card reader (to load photos onto my iPad), extra camera battery and charger

Adapters! (Since all my electronics have voltage ranges from 120-240 I don't need a converter!)

 

I am certain to amend this list, there are a few things that I've neglected to put in the photos because I'm not sure if they'll fit now that I've decided to go carry-on!

10 days til wheels-up!

 

My most favorite travel accessory… my iPad!

My iPad/iPhone is my most useful travel equipment. (Even when I don’t have service!)

Natasja & her iPad, in the window of our Prague Hostel, 2013

Last fall, while Natasja & I were trying to connect with my lost (& very jet lagged) parents – my ULMON PRAGUE app saved the day.  Seriously.  Well, my iPad and Saint Ludwila.  I thought my parents were just going to give up and go to Slovakia without me.  (Read the account here.)  That experience cemented my iPad mini at the top of my must-have travel accessories.

Here are the apps that I am taking on my trip.

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Ulmon (for big cities)

This app is perfect for me because (as anyone who has ever driven anywhere with me will know) I am directionally challenged.  Even off-line, I can touch the blue navigation arrow and it will show me where I am on the map as I walk through the city!  It also lists all the most common tourist sights and allows me to search for the locations of temples, restaurants and cat cafes!

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Postagram

Have you ever wished that YOU could be in the photos on the vacation postcards that you send to your friends? Now you can send a REAL POSTCARD & it only costs you $1/each!  Personalized postcards are super fun and since they are printed in the USA, then mailed to your destination, it’s a quick way to get mail to your friends in the States while you are abroad!

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Google Drive

All of my flight info, travel insurance policy, contact info and my travel itinerary are in a file that I can share with the people who need to know where I am at all times. I also did a 8GB photo file download while at a friend’s house in Bangkok to free up another card for my camera!

 

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Blogsy

This is the app WAS my favorite app to use to post my ‘Adventures of a Michigander’ blog since I’m not bringing my laptop.  I did buy an iPad case with a keyboard for the trip. Unfortunately, Blogsy will not have a new update and is no longer compatible with the newest iOS. Now, I just use WordPress.

 

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 TripIt

All of my flight details are gleaned from my confirmation emails without any effort on my part! It’s pretty useful when you frequently buy cheap tickets on Skyscanner b/c they are less than train tickets!

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 SmartTraveler

Safety First!  This is where I check the government travel warnings for the 7 countries I’ll be traveling in.

 

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Trail Wallet

At the end of my trip, I’ll be able to use this app to see charts on my spending.  It will break it down to how much I spent per day & on what.  I’m sure you’re already looking forward to that blogpost.

 

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Instagram

Find me @adventuresofamichigander, to see photos that I don’t post on FB or my blog!

 

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Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.56.02 PMHostelBookers/Agoda:

Booking accommodation just got easier!

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 Heads Up!

Ellen DeGeneres designed this app and it’s hilarious to play with groups.  It’s simple, your team tries to get you to say the word on the screen, as you hold the iPad on your forehead.  The best part is the video it takes during the game – this game will make me lots of friends when I get stuck inside during a rainstorm.

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Clue

It’s hard to keep track of the days when you travel so this app warns me when I might be feeling ‘PMSy’ rather than just ‘Hangry’.  It’s very helpful.

 

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ToonCamera or Prisma

I love the way my photos look with this app!

WhatsApp/ FB Messanger

Text your new international friends for free on WhatsApp or use FB to make free video calls!

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 10.17.28 PMFly Delta

The app is worth downloading simply for the Glass Bottomed Jet feature, where it will show you the places you’re flying over + which FB friends you’re flying over!  Slightly stalker-ish but neat! *I was disappointed by this app and then PANICKED by this app when it sent me flight check-in reminders from the wrong time zone, causing me to think I’d missed my flight. Boo. Deleted.

Also: Kindle, FaceBook, iMessage, GoogleTranslate, plus some games and a 7-min workout app* that I never used.

If you’re still reading, leave your favorite travel apps in the comments, please!

7 countries in 77 days

Here is the outline of my epic journey.

I’ve left room for plenty of detours.

Oh, how I love when a plan starts to come together!  Unemployment has given me adequate time to do some in-depth research.  I’ve been pouring over TripAdvisor forums, loads of blogs and good ol’ travel guides for weeks now and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

#1-Japan1280px-The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa

I’ll be flying into the Narita airport, north of Tokyo and connecting with a YMCA Camp Jeweller, Matt Allan, who is stationed in Yokosuka with the US Navy.  I plan on hopping the bullet train to Mt. Fuji Nat’l Park and contenting on to Kyoto and Osaka.  I’m only there 6 days but I intend to live it up!

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Next up, I’ll fly in to Bangkok (the star in the map below) from Tokyo and then start traveling counter-clockwise and then head down the peninsula to Singapore!

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#2-Thailand

Wat Pho
Wat Pho

In Bangkok, I’ll be met by Bryan- a friend I met through a St. Michael’s connection who works for the US Government.  Bryan transferred to the Bangkok branch on August 8th and since he’s new in town, he’s going to be the perfect sightseeing buddy!  After a few days of eating amazing Thai food and wandering through markets & temples, I’ll fly out of Bangkok and into Cambodia.

#3-Cambodia

phnom-penh-city-cambodia-tours
capitaltourscambodia.com

I’ll enter the country at Siem Reap, a town made famous by the temples at Angkor Wat.  I’ll buy a 3 day pass in order to take my time & escape the heat when I need to.  Then, I head down to Phnom Penh (PP) to meet up with Meaghan T. (a 20 yr + friend from Camp Gordonwood)!  I am a lucky girl ~ Meaghan is letting m come to her school for a day!

#4-Vietnamjasmine_introvietnam sapa bac ha 31 (1024x768)

I’ll cross this boarder by land- after securing a visa in PP and continuing on to Ho Chi Mihn City (HCMC) where I’ll meet up with another Camp Jeweller- Troy Jankowski from Sydney!  We’ll take the train to Hoi An and then to Hanoi.  The rice terraces of Sapa and the rock formations of Halong Bay are on our itinerary.  Hopefully, we’ll find time to take a cooking class too!  (Photos by vietnamtravelsonline.com)

#5-Myanmar (Burma)Burma-COVER

Troy & I will arrive in Yangon for the Festival of Lights!  Then, we’ll travel to Bagan, Inle Lake and fly out of Mandalay at the end of the 2 weeks.  For more photos of Myanmar, check out this book by Scott Stulberg.

There will be another few days in Bangkok as Troy flies home and Laura Johnson flies in from Nashville!

#6-Malasia

Beautiful-Malaysia-Wallpaper__yvt2
(Photos from parallelperception.com)

Batu_caves_KL

In Malaysia, Laura and I plan to laze around on tropical beaches, wind our way through Kuala Lumpur and end up in the sovereign city-state of Singapore!

#7-Singapore

content_super-trees-singapore
(Photos by dogonews.com)

imagesI won’t arrive in Singapore until December, so it I haven’t made many plans.  It’s a big city (and it’s own country!) so I hoping to meet up with fellow Masonite Heather Klepper Roddocker while I’m in town.  This is the last stop in my travel adventure… I’m already feeling nostalgic.

The Traveler’s Catch-22 (or 3 reasons why I should not go on this trip.)

I’ve have a lot of time to think lately.

Much of this time has been spent thinking about vaccines, visas and voltage (say that 3 times fast!)  As I repeatedly recount the story of my next adventure I find myself feeling the need to justifying this trip.

These are the three questions that keep popping into my head when I start overthinking.

amazing-places-to-see-before-you-die-15-21

(This photo is of Halong Bay, Vietnam. Taken by Nic (Luckypenguin)

#1: I don’t have any money.

I understand that it is not fiscally responsible for an unemployed person to traipse across the world for three months.  BUT…. Time IS money, people!  And I’m RICH with TIME!  Welcome to what I’ve dubbed the Traveler’s Catch 22: If I wait until I accumulate a stack of cash,  it will be when I have a job again!  If I have a job, then I won’t have 3 months off to travel!  I’ll put as much as I can on a 0% credit card and pay off this trip next year.

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(Photo of Bagan, Myanmar by Raul Cruz Photography)

#2: It is not SAFE for me to travel the world ‘alone’!

Well, safe is a relative word… because LIFE is a risky endeavor!   For my own sanity, I have always tried to stay in that sweet spot between being overly cautious and being blissfully ignorant.  Like Kenny Rogers says, ‘Trust in God, but lock your door!’  (I bought some great travel insurance too.)  ‘Alone’ is also relative, I’m meeting a few old friends along the way and I’m sure to make many new friends too!

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(This photo of a monk in Angkor Wat, Cambodia was taken by Timothy Allen/BBC)

#3: I should be looking for a full-time job or working on adrienneleephoto.com, not going on vacation.

Sure!  That sounds like a good use of my time!   But I consider this a ‘life experience’ trip, not a vacation and I’ve decided that when I’m old, I want to have a collection of stories instead of a collection of fine china to pass down.  I may be broke, but my aim is to be interesting!

Now that you know WHY I’m going, read my next post to find out WHERE I’m going and WHO is coming with me!