Leaving on a Jet Plane

>> Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Setting: Detroit Airport
The Time: Saturday early evening.

TSA Official #1: "Is this your bag?"
Woman: Smiling, internally wondering what on earth has been spotted on the monitor.
"Yes, that's my bag."
TSA Official #2: "Please take your stuff and follow me."
Woman gathers her shoes, belt, jacket, purse, clear bag of 3 oz. liquids and follows TSA #2.

TSA #2: "It looked like there is a bottle in your bag, so I'm going to need to search it."
Woman: Quickly checks to see that empty water bottle is in purse. "Um, ok. I don't think there's a bottle but go ahead."
TSA #2: Takes books, bagged items, scarf, bag of assorted chargers, toiletries, etc out of backpack. "Wow, this is an impressively packed bag. I'm so sorry I have to unpack it."
Woman: "No worries."
TSA #2: "Seriously, this is the best packed bag I've ever seen."
Woman: "I like packing things. It's sort of like playing Tetris."
TSA #2: "I'm so sorry for needing to take everything out."
Woman: Laughing, "it's ok, really. You're just doing your job. Have you found what you're looking for?"
TSA #2: Pulling out a pair of old Chacos wrapped in a plastic bag. "Oh here it is."
Woman: "Oh ok, they're just sandals."
TSA #2: "Yep, I guess the curve just looked like a bottle. I'm so sorry that I'ev totally unpacked your bag."
Woman: "It's fine, I can put it back together really quickly."
TSA #2: Watches woman repack bag quickly. "Wow, I wish I could pack bags that well. You should teach a class."

Perhaps in my next life, I'll teach people how to pack efficiently. "Be a Packing Ninja 101" will, I am sure, have a tremendous audience. In the meantime, there are a couple of tricks to taking 2 carry-on size bags + 1 purse with you for 3 weeks:

1. Pick your bags wisely. There's a sleeping bag and a camping pot in the duffel bag. They fit well because the bag is as spare as can be. It's a rectangle, and the bag itself takes up very little space. The corollary is: use every bit of space. My first-aid kit is stored in the pot along with my knife, whistle, and other little items. (This bag was obviously checked due to the knife and the jar of the peanut butter I tossed in too.) My backpack is large for a daypack but small for a camping backpack. It's almost full now but it can expand as necessary. It has some of the food we'll take with us backpacking, so once we eat it, there will be more space for any items I pick up along the way.

2. Pack lightly. I've always been a light packer, and this trip is no different even though I'll be backpacking (hence the need for the sleeping bag and camping pot, but no tent needed on this trip) for part of it and wine-tasting (nicer clothes required) at other points. All clothes should be interchangeable (pick one neutral color and make sure everything works with it). Shoes should be adaptable (hiking boots are necessary for this trip so I took 3 pairs of shoes, but 2 would otherwise be sufficient). A couple of key accessories can dress up a pair of jeans or a simple black dress. Accept that you'll be wearing the same things for several weeks. It's ok; no one really cares. Bring items that dry quickly so you can easily do laundry as necessary. Take older clothes that are versatile and fit well but can be tossed if they meet a mud puddle or a jagged rock or anything else making them no longer wearable.

I've been in LA the past couple of days visiting friends (including a super fun dinner with Michelle last night), and I'm off to New Zealand for 2.5 weeks tonight. If you have any tips for NZ (my friend and I will be spending most of our time on the South Island, but a little time in Auckland as well), comment away! Any restaurant, sightseeing, coffeeshop, fabric/crafts, etc recommendations are much appreciated. We'll be starting with the Routeburn Trek and moving clockwise around the South Island from there. I'll try to post while away but with (intentionally) limited internet access, I make no guarantees...


LT November 16, 2011 at 10:57 AM  

I love being a smart packer. While you're in NZ, watch out for the biting flies up by Karamea - the key is not to scratch (there's no good way to get them not to bite). If you're doing wine tasting in Marlborough, try to get to Forrest Estate Winery, they were my favorite on our tour. Katmandu is the local gear store, check it out, there some great sales a few years ago! Also make sure you have a pack cover, it was a necessity when we did Kepler Track. Lastly, don't have any milkshakes in NZ, they're awful, thin and not made with ice cream! Have tons and tons of fun! It's such a great place, and 2.5 weeks mostly on the South Island, fantastic!

FlourishingPalms November 16, 2011 at 1:05 PM  

We were in NZ, on the south island ONLY, for a week in 2009. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world. I didn't find a single quilt shop! But three things I highly recommend: the TranzAlpine train trip from Christchurch to Greymouth; a one-day guided trek on the Franz Josef Glacier; and a one-day guided trip to Doubtful Sound. DS is the most spectacular place in the world! You don't want to miss it! A flat white (coffee) in NZ is to die for, and pretty too, with cream dolloped on top in the shape of a fern. I'm so envious of you being there. No shake, rattling, or rolling for you, I hope. Have a wonderful time. I can guarantee you won't be able to take it all in! Linda in Iowa

Margaret November 19, 2011 at 1:47 AM  

I agree with everything Linda said. The last time I was in NZ, it was for 3 weeks, and that was still not nearly long enough. (I lived there for 6 months as an exchange student while in high school.) My two favorite flavors of NZ are feijoa (tastes sort of like a great Granny Smith apple, with the texture of a melon, and you eat it sort of like a kiwi fruit) and kumara (Maori sweet potato, especially the purple ones). Milford Sound, if you can get out there, is really breathtakingly beautiful. I did a full-day kayak trip out there, and loved every minute of it -- not hard at all (you're SO far inland that it's really protected, but the scenery is mind boggling) but that might be more time than you can spare. Definitely make time to investigate the native fauna and flora, though. There's a bird sanctuary in Te Anau (near Milford Sound) that's great. Enjoy the friendliness and hospitality of the Kiwis -- really wonderful people, in my experience. Have fun!!!

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