The path to the #40KFaraway challenge has been fun. When we hatched the idea for this challenge, I think we expected it to be entertaining for readers. There’s no doubt that we knew we’d enjoy it, too. But I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for Greg an Stephen in saying that I don’t think we realized just how much we would enjoy this challenge. I only speak for me when I say that I wish I could do this two or three times — with as much as I’ve thought and second-guessed, I feel like I could have two or three great (and vastly different) itineraries. Still, my plans have been set for a while now in terms of destinations. This past weekend, I finally decided that I’m physically ready — at least in terms of having my bag packed. And there it sits, ready for the chaos to ensue. Here’s what I’m not bringing, how I’m replacing it, and what challenges I’ve faced in packing for a whirlwind jet around the world.
Challenge #1: The elements.
What’s that they say about the mailman? “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”.
I never wanted to be a mailman.
See, my father was born in Puerto Rico. My blood is tropical. Yeah, I live in the mountains of Upstate New York. Yes, it is a frozen tundra in the winter, with some days inevitably reaching -20º F. Note that I work from home. I don’t go outside on those days. I prefer to pack up and put my miles to work by heading for sunnier skies when the arctic freeze sets in at home (hence why I was in Hawaii in January, San Diego in February, and Japan in early April for cherry blossom season. Ok, so I did hit up some snow on that last stop, but the snow monkeys were worth it.
Spoiler alert: I am not going to be visiting the actual tundra on this trip, though I could have gotten pretty close if I had gotten on Flight Connections sooner. I could have potentially gotten from New York to Yellowknife, capital of the Northern Territories, for just 10K Turkish Miles & Smiles miles one way.
And when I look at Google images and a calendar, I regret that missed opportunity all the more.
But when I watched Greg’s packing video, I was shocked at how little he is bringing in the way of clothes — not just out of concern for his fellow passengers, but because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get by with so few clothing options.
I’m looking at a couple of potentially 60-degree swings in weather within a day or two, which means that I need to be prepared with a few layers. Of course, that means carrying more weight than I’d like (and carrying more than at least one carrier I’m flying officially allows…).
So obstacle #1 for me is being prepared for different kinds of weather. I’ll need to be able to stay warm and cool yet keep things light. One thing left out of the video you’ll see below is that the second pocket — where I say I’ll put a water bottle — is where I’ll actually keep my Uniqlo Ultra-light Down jacket, which squeezes down into a bag small enough to fit in a side pouch of my backpack yet is probably the warmest jacket I’ve ever owned. I’ve seriously DJed ourdoors at a ski resort for 3 or 4 hours wearing that jacket with relative comfort (for the first 2 hours or so, anyway). See the video below for more on what I’m bringing.
Challenge #2: The right bag
When I started to prep for this challenge, I assumed I could fit everything I needed into a regular backpack. I’ve been carrying a Tumi backpack for a couple of years now. I picked it up second-hand because I couldn’t handle the sticker shock of new bags (even though I’ve posted some solid deals on them). I’ve been very happy with the bag: strong zippers, a good number of compartments, and a comfortable carry have all been positives.
But I hadn’t used it as the only bag I’d brought for a trip until our FM to Go Bay Area event just recently. After trying it out, I barely squeezed my stuff into it for the weekend and I wasn’t sure I could get everything in it for the trip. However, I am happy to report that this bag now has everything that I (think I) will need to globe trot around the world.
But it doesn’t have quite a few things I thought I’d bring.
For one example, I’ve gotten used to traveling with a 5-port USB hub and a 3-outlet mini power strip. While those two items have been in my travel bag for years, both are now out in favor of a single international outlet adapter that has 4 USB ports: enough to charge my phone, GoPro, smart watch, battery pack, and laptop with one wall adapter. That only reduced the weight and bulk in my bag by a very small margin — but planning for this challenge has required that kind of focus on the small things.
Things I’ve bought
We decided among ourselves early on that things brought from home — food, travel adapters, etc — will not count against the budget of 40K points and $400, so I think we each felt free to buy things in advance that we thought we needed without these things counting against the budget (for example, Greg bought a new small Chromebook to reduce weight and bulk in his bag). I actually haven’t bought much, but here are the new things I’m bringing:
- International Outlet Adapter: As noted above, this is replacing several individual pieces. I like it more than the one I’ve been carrying; I may order another for my wife for future trips.
- Protein Bars: After trying a number of brands, I settled on Think! protein bars as the best blend of taste / fillingness so that I can satisfy hunger pangs while saying conscious of the budget. I’ve gotten fairly accustomed to having one for either breakfast or lunch. I’m hopeful that I haven’t already had them enough for the taste to be getting old already.
- Reebok sneakers: Footwear was set to be a challenge. I most often wear a pair of Sperry Top Siders and often do not wear socks, but those shoes aren’t great for doing a ton of walking — and in this challenge, I intend to walk a lot. My current sneakers are the running shoes I wore to train for a marathon back in 2016 and they have more or less tapped out their mileage and are showing their wear. I picked up a new pair of Reebok walking shoes at 60% off the other day. Now I’m just hoping they arrive in time for me to break them in before the trip, but I believe they will.
Apart from those things, I think everything else in my bag is stuff I already had, so that’s good.
What’s in my packpack
All that explanation done, I filmed a video showing everything in my packpack. A couple of things to be aware of regarding the video:
First, it’s long. It’s too long. I recorded it and realized that, so I decided to record it over again. I was about halfway through re-recording it when…well, I’ll let you hear what happened:
If you didn’t catch it, at about 11 seconds in that was the sound of my wife grabbing the garage door as it swung open. Grabbing it by the hinge. One trip to urgent care later for a broken and sliced open finger and I didn’t end up finishing that second take. So you’re stuck with the longer first take.
The second thing to note is that I was trying out a video editing app on my phone in an attempt to get comfortable with it in case I want to edit some videos that I post as I go and also in an effort to trim the video down a bit. I really don’t like how there isn’t a way to trim the clips more precisely than by sliding my finger back and forth as I don’t feel like this cut properly every time. In the first sixty seconds of this video, I have some rough transitions. I left them in so you could see a bit of the process of trial and error in putting this stuff together (and hopefully see some improvement by the time I post videos of the trip next week). Once you get past the first minute of this video, those rough transitions mostly go away.
On that note, I leave you with the video of what I’m not bringing, how I’m replacing those things, and what’s in my backpack for the #40KFaraway challenge. Wish me luck. Give me suggestions. Don’t hate on my hat :-).