Packing for most “trips” is not something one stresses over, however packing for a 90 day “journey” is another matter entirely. With the exception of a large suitcase that will accompany us only during the cruise, everything that we will take with us must fit in moderately sized backpacks for each of us. The goal is to keep the weight below 20 pounds each.
Christine has proven in the past to be better at this than I am. On our 2013 Spain trip of 54 days (which included 35 days walking the Camino) her pack weighed in at 16 pounds, while mine started out at 24 pounds. After a few days on the trail I segregated a bunch of “just in case” stuff and shipped it out, reducing my pack to 18 pounds. 6 pounds may not sound like a lot, but it was a world of difference when one is afoot and covering 12-15 miles a day.
I once mused on the cumulative effect of carrying an extra ounce over 525 miles. That distance represents approximately one million footsteps. Each step that transports that extra ounce adds up to an extra 62,500 POUNDS over the length of that journey! Ounces do matter!!!
There are some principles that are helpful to keep in mind:
- Pack for the expected, not the “just in case”.
- Europe is not part of the “third world”. The countries in Europe have the equivalents of Walmart, Target, Dick’s Sporting, Walgreens, and CVS everywhere.
- Take less than you think that you will need. I (half) kiddingly have said that one can stretch the use of underwear to 4 days by wearing a pair on day one, reversed on day two, inside-out on day three and again reversed on day four.
- Make sure it can all fit in your pack, even though you will be wearing approximately one-third of it.
Here is a short summary of what we have found to be a reasonable packing list:
- 4 pair of socks, 2 of medium weight and 2 of light weight.
- Hiking shoes and a pair of light trainers.
- 2 long pants and 1 pair of shorts, and a light swimsuit.
- 3 changes of underwear, 2 tee-shirts.
- A lightweight sleeved shirt.
- A light sweater.
- A breathable water-proof windbreaker.
- An ultralight parka that is designed to cover both you and your pack.
- An ultralight compressible down blanket.
- A simple first aid kit for minor cuts and major blisters.
- A toiletry kit with a very minimalist supply of toothpaste and shampoo. (Remember, Europe is NOT THIRD WORLD)
- A ½ liter refillable water bottle. (Large capacity and water purification are not necessary… again, NOT THIRD WORLD!)
- A small kit with charging cords and electric plug converter. Smart phones and most other electronics work fine on Europe’s 240-volt power, but a plug converter is necessary to make US “prongs” connect with Euro outlets.
- Trekking poles. These have proven to be a necessity. They enhance stability afoot and transfer approximately 10% of the effort of walking to the arms and chest. Christine and I each attribute their use to saving us from some serious stumbles.
In addition to the above, I will take my iPhone, iPad, and “real” camera. Carrying these things in not necessary to my journey, but they are necessary for taking YOU on our journey!
We also each carry copies of any travel documents, including copies of both of our passports and driver’s licenses.
On the Camino it is customary to say “Buen Camino” (Good Journey) when one greets or says goodbye to another Pilgrim. So I will end with that and a bit more:
Peace Everyone, and Buen Camino! Pete