We're still in the midst of packing for a jungle sketching trip. Here's the carry-on assemblage, and here's a link to the packing list, so you won't have to go back and find it in previous blog entries.
Okay, now for the fanny pack ~ that's the medium-sized one at right. It has a lifting grip on the top for carrying by hand, it has a shoulder strap, and it has an assemblage that snaps around your waist to take the weight off your shoulder if you want. This can be a lifesaver when you are hiking (whether in the wilds, at airport terminals, or while shopping in towns). It is fairly large for a "purse," being about 12" wide and sticking out about 10" when fully packed. But it rides nicely and has a pocket you can stick your water bottle in, so it is a good choice for this. Additionally, since it DOES stick out, you can set things on it and use it like a portable table for sketching.
Print out that packing list now, so you can ride along with me.
This is where you'll carry your essential-for-happiness-during-your-vacation items, plus anything you want to use during the plane flight.
Let's check out the books first. The sudoku book should keep me busy, but not distract me too much from sketching, and it will be tossed at some point. This could be a novel, but make sure it's one you wouldn't mind dumping if you get tired of carrying it.
I want to study the Plants & Wildlife of the Amazon book on the plane, so that will also entertain me. This, by the way, is a chopped version of Peru by Pearson & Beletsky. I sliced off the first half of the book (1¼lbs!) then punched & coil-bound the rest at a printshop. The part I kept has all the pictures and descriptions, but STILL weighs more than a pound. I kept the part I excised, and I'll reunite them after the trip. Hey, it's a good book, but I just didn't need to carry all that weight around! I hope to study the Spanish diccionario on the plane.
In the bottom of the fanny pack I have tucked things I won't need until I arrive: a 5" LED flashlight with new batteries, my battery charger, extra batteries, binoculars, my bifocal sunglasses for sketching in bright sunshine, and a roll of clear tape which I use to tape soil samples (sand, colored earth, etc.) into my journal.
I've googled my destinations and printed out maps. I may glue some into my journal while on the trip. but I'm hoping to mostly sleep on the plane so I will be bright and alert on a morning arrival, instead of heading for a hotel bed with an evening arrival (hotels are a waste of money if you can sleep for free on the plane). When I'm not in the airport, my travel documents and tickets are tucked into this bag.
Notice my tiny LED book light. This is essential for sketching in poor-light situations such as in hotel rooms, and in my lodge room (this is a wilderness lodge and generator-produced lighting is probably poor. If you expect to do any evening sketches, get one of these to use. They've assured me that I can recharge my batteries at the lodge.
The 1-qt clear bag with liquids/gels in it remains accessible for every plane change, since it will have to be produced and inspected during each boarding. So does the water bottle in the side pocket, which needs to be emptied for passing through inspection, then can be filled again for the trip.
Some things I'll use frequently go in an easily accessible area or pocket: reading glasses, pen & journal (these would be in the sketching kit, but are carried loose in the fanny pack during the plane flight), tissues, handwipes, and breath mints, and business cards. I'm carrying along hard candies and energy bars in case there's nothing being served on my flight when I get hungry.
The medicine kit is in this bag, too, with vitamins, aspirin, Beano, Pepto Bismol tablets, and other things I'll wish I had if I don't bring them.
There is a small mirror with a tiny plastic bag taped to it, to carry a pair of tweezers. Those tweezers are essential for lots of things, so don't forget them. I sawed off half the handle on the toothbrush to make it fit it in easier.
The band-aids should be sports band-aids which will stand up to moisture for quite awhile.
The deodorant crystal, in case you've never run into one of these, is a solid crystal of baking soda. Some versions come as a chunk, which you moisten under a faucet and use. This one is in a lidded container. It is the most effective deodorant I've ever encountered (even if you have to use it after the fact), and has no chemicals in it besides soda. It's dry, invisible when applied, and odorless. Great stuff.
The dry shampoo (in the yellow packet) is something new, and comes in little sheets like tissue paper. You get one out before you step into the shower, slap it on your head, and lather up. There are loads of them in the tiny dispenser, and I plan to use them for laundering undies and socks, as well as washing my face. I haven't used these yet, so I'll report on them when I return. If they don't work out, I expect I can scrounge a bar of soap somewhere to use instead.
Then, there's the little box of "parts." These fit in the "what if?" category: nylon cord can be used as a belt, to tie things together, as a clothesline, etc. Rubber bands can be used for lots of things. Safety pins will mend clothing. The paperclips and clamp will hold flat things together, and serve as clothespins if needed, as will the safety pins, and the carabiner is really handy for attaching things to belts. The little box will go in a pocket during hikes to bring back fragile things to sketch at the lodge in the evenings.
As an aside, I always carry my car and house keys at the end of a keyfob chain attached to my clothing with a carabiner. I switch it whenever I change my clothes, and I never lock myself out of places anymore. On my trip, it will be attached to my ID folder to keep ID and credit cards safely attached to my person.
And finally, the plant ties. You know those little plastic strips with a hole at one end? You loop the strip around any two items you want to fasten together, thread one end of the tie through the hole in the other end, and pull tight. You have to cut it to get it off. These are nice if you find you'll have to part with one of your luggage pieces (on small planes they may have to go in the outside bin).
Just slip a tie through a zipper and fasten it to another zipper or some part of the bag, and the zipper will not open unless you cut the tie. Nail clippers work for this, and won't be confiscated at check-in.
If you had checked luggage, you might want to get some of those airline-approved locks for your checked bags. But the plant ties are quick and cheap, and make access just difficult enough to put off a casual thief (a more determined thief would just slit the pack with a razor, so a lock wouldn't help anyway).
Okay. That just leaves the contents of my sketching kit, at right. But I've run out of time today, so that will be tomorrow's blog entry. Then you'll know almost as much about the contents of my luggage as I do.