Less Crazy, More Pants: What I Packed This Time Around

March 25, 2011

Shortly after moving to Japan four years ago, I started to receive boxes in the mail — lots and lots of boxes.

Big ones.

Full of stuff.

What was this stuff, you ask?

Well, simply, it was evidence of my hysteria.

You see, right before I moved to Japan I went a little, umm, crazy. I started buying anything and everything I felt I would need for my new life in Asia. What I couldn’t fit into my luggage, I packed up in boxes and sent to my address in Japan.

When the boxes arrived weeks later, I had to wonder what on Earth I had been thinking.

Maybe if this had been my first time living overseas, my panic would have been understandable. But I’d lived abroad before – I’d even lived in Japan before. So I knew they had stores there – real stores that sold real stuff and not just stores full of robots and Hello Kitty cell phone charms.

Yet, I still sent myself an entire box full of shampoo and conditioner.

Not only was I under a false impression that I wouldn’t be able to buy stuff when I arrived in Japan, judging from the contents of those boxes, I also seemed to be suffering some delusion that I’d become an entirely different person when I arrived there. I must have thought some magical transformation would happen to me while I was mid-flight and I’d show up in Asia transformed. I’d suddenly be one of those people who goes to work looking professional and well-groomed and not, say, like a rumpled hobo.

I had packed four suits. (Four! What did I think I was going to be doing in Japan? My job was to teach English not instigate corporate takeovers!)

There were dozens of shirts that required ironing. (Ironing? Who does that?)

There were shoes with heels on them. (Yeah, I don’t really do those either).

I had also sent myself lots of books – and not the kind of books I actually read but books on boring stuff like how to save money and how to cook healthy food and how to do my job. (Blergh. Who cares about that stuff?)

This year when I moved to China for my new job, I was dead-set on keeping my packing (and hysteria) to a minimum.

After all, I’d learned a thing or two during my last year of travel.

What is it that I’ve learned, you ask?

First of all, I really don’t need that much stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some stuff. But, after living out of a bag roughly the same size as a Golden Retriever for a year, you start to realize the things you can live without; like five pairs of identical black heels and a collection of Suze Orman books you never read.

Secondly, I’ve learned that if the country you show up in doesn’t sell what it is you need, chances are, you don’t really need it. (Unless we’re talking about pants. Should you be a girl of, well, “generous proportions,” there is a chance that many of the countries you visit in Asia won’t sell pants in your size. But, yet, you’re still expected to wear pants. How is that even fair, I ask you?)

Besides, in all honesty, I didn’t really have much stuff to pack in my bags this time around. When I arrived home, I discovered that a lot of the clothes that I had sent back from Japan before I left no longer fit me. (Let’s just say that one of the things I didn’t manage to learn during my little year of travel was how to maintain a healthy diet and regular workout schedule. So while I was packing light, I was also, kind of, packing on the pounds.)

I found that the few things that did still fit me, weren’t exactly me anymore… and maybe never were. (Stuff that needs ironing? Seriously, who does that?)

After getting rid of the stuff I no longer wanted or could no longer fit into, I compiled the stuff I still had; including, my laptop, digital camera, backpack and other gear that survived the trip last year.

After looking at that, I came up with a list of things I still felt I needed to start my new job and new life in China.

I did not go on any crazy shopping sprees snapping up bulk quantities of hair products or financial planning books. Instead, I only bought the stuff that was on my list. If anything, I bought less than I planned on buying.

I know, weird, right?

It’s like I’d become a responsible adult who actually cares about how much she spends. How did that even happen? (Okay, so I know how that happened. It’s called a year of unemployment and regular panic attacks induced by fears of having to take up residence in a cardboard box. Thanks, unemployment! You’ve taught me so much more than that Smuggy McSmugpants, Suze Orman, ever could!)

So what did I pack with me this time around, you ask? (Sheez, it’s about time you asked. I mean, I rattled on about shampoo and Suze forever just waiting for you to ask already.)

Well, here’s what made it into my bags:

A Kindle

I was resistant to get a Kindle, at first. You see, I love books, and I love the whole book experience. I love the feel of books. I love the smell of books. I love the sound of houseguests being all impressed when they see your big bookshelf full of books (even though a lot of those books are the kind you don’t actually read).

But I also really hate to get rid of books when I move (even the stupid, smug, this-is-how-you-need-to-fix-your-life books). Plus, living in non-English speaking countries, it can be difficult and expensive to keep your bookshelf well-stocked (especially if you like to keep a healthy selection of hardly-ever-read but impressive-to-houseguests books).

I agonized over the decision to buy a Kindle for weeks when I was home. (Agonized, I tell you! It’s really a wonder no one has made a movie out of my life yet. I mean, Sophie’s Choice has nothing on me!)

I put off the decision so long, that I had to order it with express shipping so that it would get to me before I was scheduled to leave Buffalo. But then there was a huge snowstorm (like when is there not a huge snowstorm in Buffalo?) and the delivery guy kept on getting lost in the snow and I almost didn’t get it in time.  (Note to Hollywood, when, in fact, you do see fit to make my life into a movie, I’d really appreciate it if you could cast David Boreanaz as the delivery guy. And, he should really come into the house to deliver the package, instead of leaving it on my parent’s back porch because that’s kind of rude. By the way, Hollywood, I will be playing myself in that movie.)

Despite my initial resistance, I have to say, I adore my new Kindle.

It doesn’t feel like a book or smell like a book or have the ability to impress houseguests. (Unless, they’re the really nosy kind of houseguests who spend their free time snooping around my ebook reading list — in which case, they probably won’t be too impressed as I’ve downloaded lots of random free stuff which is, ahem, probably free for a reason.)

But my Kindle has one function that paper books can never have.

What is that, you ask? (Geez, you and your questions, already.)

It has magic!

Let me explain.

Let’s just say, it’s Sunday evening, and I don’t have any books to read because, let’s say, I stayed up until four a.m. the night before reading my last book because, hey, isn’t that what everyone does on a Saturday night?

And, let’s just say, I need another book to read because I always read right before I go to bed and if I don’t I’ll just lie awake and start thinking stuff like, “What am I doing with my life?” and “What is life?” and “Why isn’t there a movie version of my life already? I mean, come on, Hollywood, do I need to become some crazy ballerina just so you can make a movie about me?”

And, let’s just say, I’m living in China where I can’t even figure out where to buy salt, let alone books in English. (Okay, so I know where to buy salt. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the many bags of white, powdery stuff that they sell at the grocery store, but it’s not labeled in English, and I keep on forgetting to look up the Chinese characters for it, and I am worried I’ll end up buying a big bag of MSG or yam starch.)

And, let’s just say, I haven’t left the house all weekend, and I really have no intention of doing anything rash like changing into real pants and braving the mean streets of Wuxi at seven o’clock in the evening just to find a book to read.

But I really need a book or else I’ll never go to sleep. (Remember, the questions!)

What’s a girl to do, you ask?

Oh, I know! I can just download a book while I’m lying in my bed.

Shazaam!

I have a new book.

Seriously, if that’s not magic I don’t even know what is.

iPod nano

Back when I moved to Japan (you know, back when I was stocking up on enough shampoo to wash the hair of every man, woman and child in the country), I bought an iPod classic.

It had enough memory space to store all the music I owned because, hey, it’s possible Japan wouldn’t have any music, so I figured I should really bring my own.

About halfway through last year, my iPod started malfunctioning. By the time I returned to the States, it had stopped working altogether. When I took it into the Apple Store, they informed me I could either get it fixed or I could recycle it and get a discount towards a new iPod.

I decided to recycle the old one, and snapped up a new red iPod nano. It’s not quite big enough to hold my entire song collection, but I was pretty sure China had music. Plus, my purchase helped support AIDS awareness programs in Africa.

Recycling and fighting AIDS?

It’s like I’m singlehandedly saving the world!

A Towel (A Real One!)

Shortly after leaving Laos for Chiang Mai, I discovered that my Pack Towel was missing.

That towel had traveled with me for twelve years and over four continents.

It had survived my first and second stints in Japan, a three-month backpacking trip through Spain, Portugal and Morocco, a year in Brazil and over eight months on the road while in Southeast Asia.

Damn, was I glad to see that thing gone.

I hated it.

If you’ve never had the unique experience of using a Pack Towel to dry yourself off, you can simulate the experience by using a square of felt… or possibly some pieces of paper towel wadded together.

Pack Towels may be lighter and dry faster than ordinary towels, but, they’re really not meant for use on humans. Drying off your car? Okay. Wiping off your countertop? Alrightie. Using it to dry off your body after a shower? Nope, that’s just not right.

I packed a real towel for my trip to China, and then when I arrived I discovered my apartment was already equipped with real towels.  It’s like I won the real towel lottery! (It must have been the result of all that good karma that I got from saving the world with my new iPod.)

Wrinkle-Free Shirts

I take it back, Kindle. You’re pretty special, but button-down shirts you don’t have to iron? Now, that is magic.

Pants (Lots of Them)

I managed to be pretty conservative with most of my shopping prior to moving to China — maybe a bit too conservative.

For example, it would have been nice if I’d brought more than one heavy sweater as it’s been pretty cold here and every time I wash that one sweater I have to hibernate inside my apartment until it’s dry. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself  – “Nope, can’t go outside today. My sweater is drying. Better just sit inside and read more books on my Kindle.”)

The one thing I did kind of overdo it on, though, was pants.

I now own seven pairs of pants – including one pair of jeans. Having spent a year of traveling with only three pairs of pants, which were reduced down to two pairs after an unfortunate incident on a Malaysian hiking path, I feel a bit decadent these days.

I know I don’t need that many pairs of pants, but it’s nice to have them. You know, just in case.

Just in case of what, you ask? (Sheez, what’s with all the questions today?)

Well, just in case I take up hiking again.

Or, just in case I can’t find any pants in my size.

Or, just in case, China doesn’t label their pants in English and I end up buying something I think are pants but are not. (Heck, I could end up walking around town with yam starch on my nether regions and never know. How embarrassing!)

Or, just in case I do transform into that person who goes to work everyday looking professional and well-groomed… and not wearing the same exact rumpled pair of pants I wore yesterday. (Not that I would ever do that as that sounds like it would require lots of ironing. And, seriously, who does that?)

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I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On March 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm jill- Jack and JIll Travel said:

    What you wrote about Kindle? I felt the exact same way. I was so upset when I decided to sell my book collection I couldn’t even make myself tape the box.

    But I do love my Kindle. And I love that pink cover you got!! Mine is a boring black one — but it was on sale for $3.99 so… yeah.
    jill- Jack and JIll Travel recently posted..Why Did The Grizzly Cross the Street

    • On March 26, 2011 at 12:23 am Sally said:

      Yes, the pink cover is quite nifty. I really wanted something stripey to match my computer case (because that’s the way I am… even though my clothes regularly don’t match, I love it if all my technology accessory cases match), but they didn’t have anything so I had to go with the hot pink, which is my go-to color. (Riveting story, right? I’m telling you — this stuff should really be a movie, already!)

    • On April 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm alex said:

      I’m the same. I love my books for sure, but when travelling around bangkok, as I do like to do, I just don’t know how I would last without my kindle!
      alex recently posted..apartments for rent bangkok

  2. On March 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm Akila said:

    Hilarious, as always. And, we must be semi-soul sisters on the Kindle front because I have been known to stay up until 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning reading a book, wake up the next day, and scramble around to find the next book. I am a bit addicted to manybooks.net. If you haven’t found it yet, go now. It will mesmerize you. It’s magic. Even more so than pants and wrinkle-free shirts.

  3. On March 25, 2011 at 9:10 pm Anne McKinnell said:

    What a very entertaining read! I love your writing style and now I have a much better idea of what to pack on my upcoming trip. Although I will only be travelling around the united states and I’m pretty sure they have pants, but still shopping for jeans really sucks. It’s almost as bad as shopping for bras or bathing suits. I hope you packed bras and a bathing suit 🙂
    Anne McKinnell recently posted..Creating photos that suck

    • On March 26, 2011 at 12:19 am Sally said:

      Oh, yes, jeans shopping is no fun. I didn’t have ANY jeans when I went back to the States, and it was freezing out and I desperately needed something to wear besides the capri pants I had brought with me from Thailand. I snapped up a pair of jeans at Old Navy, but they don’t fit me at all. But since they’re my only pair of jeans, I wear them all the time but I always have to hitch them up (and pretend I’m not hitching them up because I don’t want people to think I’m about to lose my pants…. which I clearly am, but whatever). I really wish I had spent more time jeans shopping, but I just hate it so much.
      Good luck on your trip!

  4. On March 25, 2011 at 9:23 pm Andrew said:

    Ironing is what happens when you take clothes out of the dryer. It may also have something to do with a waffle iron.

    I have a similar issue with pants sizes in Europe. They make my size, but it is a different letter than in the US because they work it out based on actual humans and not just what size people would like to be. Oddly there are always XXL and XXXXXXL pants left over on the rack here and the normal sizes are sold out.

    One of the best quotes from the day long(!) study abroad prep courses was this: “If you think you can’t survive without it, imagine how 80million people in your host country do. Either they will sell it or you don’t need it.”

    Don’t be down on the yam starch. It could be the cure for something or other.
    Andrew recently posted..Fun with Translation- Animals Edition

    • On March 26, 2011 at 12:16 am Sally said:

      Dryer? What’s that? Unfortunately, I don’t have any such luxurious household items in my house (unless the drying bar on my back balcony counts?).
      I have managed to find pants in my size in Asia on very rare occasions but having to purchase anything with multiple X’s in the size tends to do bad stuff to my self esteem so I usually refrain from even trying to find them.
      As for the yam starch, I wasn’t down on it… I just don’t know what it is! And, oddly, it always seems to be labeled in English, yet the salt never is. What’s the deal with that?

  5. On March 25, 2011 at 11:18 pm MaryAnne said:

    During my first six months here, I would have been happy to have found yam starch to smear all over my legs– I spent ages trying to find tights/stockings that were enormous enough to fit my gargantuan, monstrously elongated lower half (I’m 5’7″ and a medium/large in Canada btw). All of my experiments up the increasingly depressing size ladder (XXL? Nope. XXXXL? Nope) led to me wondering if the Chinese secretly liked wearing tights where the crotch came up to mid-thigh at best. I kept getting shooed out of sock/hosiery shops by sales girls gasping at my impossible size and shouting ‘mei you!’ (don’t have!) over and over.

    Yes, yam starch would have worked nicely. And whenever I go home or if family comes here, there are tights in the suitcase. Lots of nice big long tall-girl tights.

    I actually brought 6 heavy tins of tomatillo salsa with me when I moved here (because I love it and it was a talisman of happiness for 6 years in Turkey) only to discover that La Costena directly exports to China and not only are their products available here, but they are actually cheaper than in Canada. Yes, tinned chipotle chilis and tins of refried black beans and tomatillo salsa are cheap and available in Shanghai. Who knew?
    MaryAnne recently posted..A Totally Impractical Expat Interview 2- Connie Hum of Connvoyage

    • On March 26, 2011 at 12:14 am Sally said:

      Okay, I take it back. There ARE some things that they don’t sell here that they really should. (Apparently they have tomatillo salsa covered, though — again, who knews?)

      Tights & pants in my size would be nice.

      Shoes in my size would also be nice. (I’m sure I can buy men’s shoes, but I already feel HUGE here and I get depressed over the thought of wearing men’s shoes).

      Pretzel M&Ms would also be really nice.

      China, start working on it!

  6. On March 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm Gillian @OneGiantStep said:

    I’m just glad you’re going to play yourself in the movie. Do you think they will pay you too?
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..FollowFriday 25Mar2011

  7. On March 26, 2011 at 12:55 am Christy @ Technosyncratic said:

    I feel you about the pants!

    I’m super freaking short and oddly-proportioned, so every single pair of pants I own is altered (mostly just shortened, but sometimes other things as well… like taking out some of the butt region). Everyone tells me that I can find everything I could possibly need abroad so I shouldn’t take most of my clothes with me, but I’ll be damned if I’m leaving any of my well-fitting pants behind. I had to work hard to find and alter those!

    Ok, end rant. 😛
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Photo of the Week- Laguna Beach

    • On March 26, 2011 at 1:02 am Sally said:

      I usually have no trouble finding tops (of course, finding tops in a size I WANT them to be in is a problem) so I don’t bring too many of them, but I always stock up on pants. I’ve had to have my mom alter a lot of my pants because I have these weird short legs (although I’m normal height) and my whole waist-to-hip-to-thigh-to-butt ratio is freakish. (Oddly, the only place where I could find pants that really fit was Brazil. Apparently, I’m not such a freak there — at least not when it comes to pants!)
      But, since my mom can’t travel with me, all my pants do!

  8. On March 26, 2011 at 1:58 am Megan said:

    I brought a ridiculous number of clothing items when I moved to Thailand last August. Honestly, I wear most of it, but I’m starting to eye some things and wonder if I should keep them, send them home, or just donate them. Also, I’m really picky about deodorant and toothpaste, so my mom sends me that stuff from the US, even though you can totally find *anything* you need in Bangkok.

    I love my Kindle. I’m with Christy, though, I get most of my books now from torrent sites, which means I have such an overwhelming number of books that I get…overwhelmed…by the choice.
    Megan recently posted..Comment on WTF What THE! Friday Part 20 by Megan

    • On March 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, yeah, deodorant and toothpaste are big ones for me, too. I haven’t had to look for that yet in China, but I’m hoping with Shanghai nearby I’ll be able to find what I need. When I was in Eastern Malaysia,it took me forever to find deodorant. Most of the stores only sold anti-perspirant.

  9. On March 26, 2011 at 2:22 am Juno said:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I’ve gone through similar stage with packing. My backpack for the First backpacking, whoa! And I realized, like you said, if I can’t get them there there’s a good chance I don’t need them.
    Become a seasoned backpacker, I think I become semi-light packer. I mean come on, I need some stuff so I can’t be a full light packer. 🙂
    And totally agreed with pants.
    Great stuff!

    • On March 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I definitely think I’ve gotten better at packing… but I started off pretty badly. When I moved to London for a summer, I brought 2 huge bags with me with almost everything I owned (including my sheets! crazy!).

  10. On March 26, 2011 at 5:06 am Odysseus said:

    Whenever someone (from the states) asks me what they should bring to Korea if moving here, I always yell PANTS! I only brought 3 pairs with me, one of which caught fire last fire because I was sitting too close to a tiny electric heaters. I still wear them, just now with a giant singed hole near the hem.
    Odysseus recently posted..Touring Jaisalmer Without a Leg to Stand On

  11. On March 26, 2011 at 8:22 am Heather said:

    Mmm, David Boreanaz.

    I hate those stupid towels too. I’ve used it for a few years while traveling and was thrilled when a friend let me borrow one of her REAL towels while living in Sydney. So generous!!
    Heather recently posted..Aussies and Mozzies

  12. On March 26, 2011 at 8:53 am Jodi said:

    Sally, can you divulge where you picked up these magic wrinkle free shirts?
    Jodi recently posted..Thrillable Hours- Akila McConnell- traveller and writer

  13. On March 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm Allison said:

    I also think my kindle is magic; I can’t say I’ve ever owned a wrinkle free shirt so I can’t compare 🙁

    Another really amazing resource for your kindle is http://lendle.me/. Kindle’s allow you to lend out your books one time for two weeks, this site is an aggregator of kindle owner’s lending to each other! I’ve just joined, so I can’t say if there is that much choice yet, but it seems pretty awesome!

  14. On March 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm Debbie Beardsley said:

    I enjoyed reading this post. It was funny and great information for long term travelers. A great reminder to not overpack whether your trip is for 2 weeks or 2 years.
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..Travel Foto Friday- Royaumont Abbey

    • On March 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Debbie! Somehow, I find it harder to pack for the shorter trips. I tend to pack just as much for an overnight trip as I do for a year-long venture. Weird, huh?

  15. On March 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm Ceri said:

    I’ve been debating a Kindle for a while too. I’m a big bookworm and don’t know what I’m going to do without my books when I start my travels and teaching in November. A kindle seems like the only route to take. Especially if it has magical powers. 😉
    Ceri recently posted..The Answer

  16. On March 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm Dani | Globetrottergirls said:

    I can totally relate to the overpacking – I remember when I moved abroad for the first time (to Spain for 6 months in 2002) I dragged a suitcase the size of a house behind me, whereas everybody else only seemed to travel with small backpacks… I remember also packing a ridiculous amount of hair products, one of which spilled over my entire wardrobe even before I got there 😉 I learned to pack lighter over the years though..

    I can’t wait to get a Kindle, although I really like the feel of a book in my hands, but for long-term travelers who are addicted to reading the Kindle is just a perfect invention.
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..Village life on Ometepe Island- Nicaragua – A photo essay

    • On March 27, 2011 at 1:14 pm Sally said:

      The first time I traveled abroad, I packed sheets. I was going to London. I’m not quite sure why I thought London wouldn’t have any sheets, but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

  17. On March 27, 2011 at 1:18 am Ali said:

    Don’t listen to Andy about the dryer, he doesn’t own one either. It’s one of my many panic items b/c I don’t iron, if the dryer can’t get the wrinkles out, it’s not happening.

    I’m pretty sure you can pick up another sweater or two in China so you can go outside when one of the sweaters is drying. Just a thought.

    I love my kindle. I need books when I travel for entertainment during flights, etc. and there’s no way I could handle bringing more than 2 actual books, so the kindle was the perfect answer.

    I’m very happy for you and your big pile of pants 🙂
    Ali recently posted..Adventures in Flight Booking

  18. On March 27, 2011 at 1:47 am Uncle Ed said:

    Just concerned, there are worse things than yam powder. I think the symbol for salt looks like a top hat with a dancer and a baseball player on top. But that could be some sort of rock dust, maybe borax or talcum? Good luck with that. Do they sell both kinds of pepper? Tropical and Chinese?

    • On March 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm Sally said:

      They sell plenty of different kinds of pepper & something called “seasoned salt” (it’s yummy! I bought it instead of regular salt since the label was in English)

      • On October 25, 2011 at 11:29 am Alex said:

        Just avoid the Szechuan peppers like the plague—they will turn your whole mouth numb! They’re great for putting in dish to season the broth or sauce, but are not good for eating!

  19. On March 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm Jaime said:

    Sally I love you… you are to damn funny!!! I couldn’t stop laughing. I am lucky enough to have discovered people packing list online before my RTW trip. I packed super light and sometimes I want to go lighter. Im so damn lazy its sad… i just hate carrying thing…lol!
    Jaime recently posted..Photo Round Up – Week 4

    • On March 28, 2011 at 12:14 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I hear you. When I was traveling, I got rid of stuff just so I wouldn’t have to repack it. Unfortunately, it was often stuff I would later wish I hadn’t gotten rid of. Oh well!

  20. On March 27, 2011 at 11:02 pm Lorna - the roamantics said:

    wow sally! i think kindle is trying to get me through my travel blogging friends today. they must be transmitting signals to recent buyers brains whose blogs they know i read and trying to get me to cave in and get one! feel the same about books and some i have been trucking mine around every 3.5 yrs or less since i was little. think it may just be time to go electronic though. as for the ironing, HELL NO. just say no to ironing. and as for the pants, well, i get ya- spending a little time pants shopping in thailand and watching the sales gals burst into fits of laughter (um yeah me) is bound to turn even those of us with the healthiest body image into pants pack rats 😉
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted..I’m Still Here- And Hopefully Not as Crazy as Joaquin Phoenix

  21. On March 27, 2011 at 11:56 pm Micah said:

    Hi Sally! Any experience using the Kindle’s free 3G abroad? I’m thinking about getting one for my upcoming trip and while I’m pretty stoked about having a thousand books in my pocket, I’m a little more interested in the Kindle as a free, utilitarian web access device.
    Micah recently posted..The Temples of Tikal

    • On March 28, 2011 at 12:12 am Sally said:

      Micah,
      I haven’t had much chance to explore all the different things I can do with my Kindle, so, I don’t have any experience using it for web access… especially since I have pretty ready web access using my laptop. It would be nice to know how to do that for shorter trips when I don’t feel like hauling my laptop around.

  22. On March 28, 2011 at 2:33 am Theodora said:

    Sally, my problem with the Kindle is precisely that wizard magic of it. If books did not automatically finish themselves, but were instead on tap on demand, I would do sodall else but read. Seriously. I would not leave the house.

    So nice to see a 3000 word packing list, too. 😉
    Theodora recently posted..In Which I Lose A Child and Gain a Motorcycle

    • On March 28, 2011 at 5:34 am Sally said:

      Ha ha, I believe my word count was only 2,500! Had I gotten into the dilemma of the shoes, this post would have been even longer. I’m pretty sure I could write at least 3,000 words about my whole dilemma on how many shoes to bring (I brought 4 — 1 pair of flats, 1 pair of slip-ons, 1 pair of sneakers and a pair of boots that only managed to make it into my bag because there was a snowstorm in Buffalo when I was leaving & I had to have something on my feet!)

  23. On March 28, 2011 at 9:26 am Michi said:

    Hahahahahahaha!!! This post reminded me of ME!!

    There MUST be some psychological explanation for this hysteria and over-packing. When I moved back to Spain, I packed boxes and boxes of things I now realize I could have gotten here, or were unnecessary, and generally makes me feel like “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!”

    Pants. Oh, I packed LOTS of pants. 15 brand new pairs to be exact.
    Michi recently posted..Little Town- Full of Little People…

  24. On March 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm Dyanne@TravelnLass said:

    Most timely post Sally, as I sit here pondering just what (and what NOT) to tote to Asia in 6 months when I move lock, stock ‘n barrel to Vietnam.

    And yes, yes, my Kindle – I too was a reluctant convert (“no way will I EVER give up my precious wood-pulp books!”) But I must say, even I’m amazed at how swiftly I’ve fallen in love with this wondrous technotoy. Seriously handy to be able to search a book, look up a perplexing word, etc. (and that’s but the tip of the nifty iceberg tricks this honey does!)

    I originally bought it ‘cuz I’m terrified of not having handy access to a wide choice of English books in Asia. But I’m still a bit concerned as… apparently you can’t d/l Amazon books from Vietnam unless you’ve got a U.S. mailing address on your account (which I of course do, but still…) and/or there’s still a question of hiding your Asian IP address, else somehow d/l a purchase via a gift card or somesuch. Clearly it’s all a bit murkey, but at least I’ve got the Kindle itself, and I’m crossing fingers that all will be revealed/work smartly once I’m there.

    Any thoughts from those who are currently in Asia (better yet, in Vietnam) on this issue – most welcome.
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..I heart NYC

    • On March 29, 2011 at 12:11 am Sally said:

      Hmmm…. I haven’t had any problems downloading ebooks here in China. I’d very much recommend subscribing to a VPN service before you come so you don’t have to worry about the whole IP address thing — at least for your computer. I’d say stock up on ebooks now & then once you get to Vietnam start asking the expats there who might know.

  25. On March 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm Terry said:

    I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have a staring role in the movie about your life– or at least co-staring, for crying out loud! I’m imagining that there will be a nice long section about our Wooster years and then also our roommate years– and then I’m imagining that there will be a really interesting parallel story about my worrying about you while you’re traipsing all over the world and then meeting up in Buffalo, New Orleans, Japan, (Laurel Maryland!) and all that stuff. It should probably be a movie about my life with you as a co-star, now that I think of it. We can work out the details later.

    Anyway, I wanted to be sure that you knew that Jason Hervey (Wayne of The Wonder Years fame) should play me in the movie. It’s not that he’s a fantastic actor or super hot or anything, but he is in fact my doppelganger. Ok, so I suppose he is super hot and incredibly talented after all.

    • On March 29, 2011 at 12:06 am Sally said:

      Well, I see you have thought this all out, Terry. But, ummm, “worrying about you while you’re traipsing all over the world”? Who’s being a tad bit dramatic now??
      P.S. You’re welcome to have anyone play your part as long as David Boreanaz plays my romantic interest (and, shut it, I know I don’t have any romantic interest, but you don’t need to tell the directors that).

  26. On March 29, 2011 at 12:39 am ChinaMatt said:

    You just reminded me that I packed a towel when I moved to China. My wife threw it out after we got married. We found a Japanese store that sold real towels. If the Kindle existed when I moved out there, I probably would’ve bought one instead of filling an entire suitcase with books. Now, go learn some Chinese characters for food and ingredients…just remember that 田鸡 doesn’t mean “field chicken” like it should…it’s actually frog (made that mistake twice).
    ChinaMatt recently posted..Overlooking the Palace

  27. On March 30, 2011 at 2:47 am Fida said:

    You are hilarious. I know, I don’t always have time to leave a note, but I do take time to read 😉
    Packing cloth? Not my forte. At least there was no problem while travelling in Asia. Nice excuse to get tailored pants 😉
    I do tend to overdo it with books, journals, maps, brochures, copies of books, pencils, watercolours – not that I ever use the latter… A kindle could solve a lot…I could even pack extra pants…
    Fida recently posted..Mar 23- Toronto Travel Tip

  28. On April 1, 2011 at 6:12 am Victoriana said:

    Yet again, i love your posts. You have a wonderful writing style and i hope you continue writing for many years.

    that said, I know exactly what you mean with the crazy thing you think you need on a trip that you really don’t. I’ve managed to slim down my traveling gear to about one bag that fits in an overhead compartment. My only problem is that i do not have a kindle and I end up schlepping around a ton of books. i swear now that I will have a kindle very soon. Your post has convinced me if nothing else did.
    Victoriana recently posted..Oolong- Self-Help- Sofonisba Anguissola- Cats- and Fools

    • On April 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm Sally said:

      Thanks, Victoriana. Glad you liked the post! And I’m so pleased I’ve converted another person over to Kindle. It will change your life… or at least your luggage. (Do you hear that, Amazon?! I’ve brought another person over to the dark side. Where’s my cut??)

  29. On April 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm bethany said:

    Great post as always! I still can’t make myself buy a Kindle yet – I look at a screen all day and like you I love the smell and feel of a book. But I can see the usefulness because books are heavy! I love the boxes you sent to yourself in Japan – hysterical and so cute. 🙂
    bethany recently posted..World-Class Cycle Holidays in Majorca

    • On April 4, 2011 at 3:06 am Sally said:

      Those boxes were CRAZY. I actually sent myself a French press coffee maker…. because, uh, they don’t have coffee makers in Japan?!? What the heck was I thinking.
      And, not to put too much peer pressure on you, I was pleasantly surprised at how un-screen-like my Kindle is (and, I swear, Amazon is not paying me to endorse them… but they CAN anytime). I think because the lack of back-lighting it’s not so tiring on the eyes. But it would be nice if they could come up with some Kindle spray which would make my Kindle smell like a book. Now THAT would be really magical!

  30. On April 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm Monica said:

    I wish I’d seen this 2 years ago! when I left to go travelling I packed such a ridiculous amount of stuff I could barely lift my bag. If I’d have know, I would have simply left with an empty backpack and bought things as I went along. Oh well, we live and learn.
    I also really want a Kindle and I’ve read such good reviews of them recently that I’m definitely going to get one! Great post.

    • On April 3, 2011 at 3:28 pm Sally said:

      Wow, I think you’re like the 5th person I’ve convinced to buy a Kindle. Amazon should definitely be paying me! (Hear that, Amazon?!) Glad you enjoyed the post!

  31. On April 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm Roy said:

    Hehe, I know what you mean. A few months ago I packed 2 suits and a whole bunch of shirts with me. And I hate dressing formal!

    Funny, how people think traveling is going magically transform them into someone different. Actually, I think I still do!
    Roy recently posted..China- Here I Come!

    • On April 4, 2011 at 3:07 am Sally said:

      Yes, as much as I know it’s not true, I still believe that travel will make me a much awesomer person… or at least someone who can iron her own pants without burning the house down.

  32. On April 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm Shannon O'Donnell said:

    Oh man, a real towel is one of those luxuries that is just so worth it when you are staying long-term somewhere! I am loving using one right now in CM, and it’s pure gloriousness to not have a uber-efficient microfiber to rub down with each day 🙂

  33. On August 10, 2011 at 3:50 am Kristina said:

    Haha, do I ever understand your pleasure at losing your pack-towel! Mine has been with me since 2006. I can’t WAIT to lose it!

    As for the Kindle – I’ve been debating the switch too, mostly since I love books so much (just like you!)… I guess it would be a great thing to tuck into my backpack though – sort of like a recyclable novel. I think you’ve convinced me!

    Great post, thanks! 🙂

    • On August 10, 2011 at 3:58 am Sally said:

      I can’t recommend the Kindle enough. I love being able to read any English book I want no matter where I am. Before I would just read whatever crappy novel I could find at the hostel or wherever… now I have a choice of crappy novels! (Or I can actually chose something not so crappy.) Yay!

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