Packing for 37 days

It’s 3 in the morning, 19 hours before our flight to Singapore (the beginning of our 37-day Southeast Asia trip), and I’m wide awake, reading and rereading the letter I wrote to lao peh before I graduated. Surely the feelings in the letter will help me sleep. The past 8 hours have been spent packing (and unpacking), printing airline tickets, making two more itineraries, and generally fretting over the littlest things. The pre-trip jitters have come rather early, but considering I’ll be with 4 first-time international travelers and 1 other person who hasn’t been to Singapore,  I think my anxiety is warranted.

My packing still isn’t done. I haven’t had my money changed. I forgot to print hotel booking confirmations. I don’t have offline maps. My iPod isn’t ready. I’m not ready. Will I ever be ready? But I want to go now.

This trip was one year in the making, and yet I’ve only just finished the itineraries for 1/3 of the trip. The question “Will I ever be ready?” keeps haunting me, and now I can’t sleep. The state of my backpack says that no, I’ll never be ready, but the envelope of budgeted money, daily itineraries, airline tickets, and direction cards say otherwise.

Packing is one of my nightmares. Given the chance, I’d bring my entire closet just for the heck of it. I’ve read so many blogs in my attempt to master this art, and still, I leave out this task for last. 2 hours ago, I checked how much my 95% packed bag weighed, and it sat on the scale at 6kg, making me breathe a sigh of relief at just how close to the limit it was. For me, this trip will not be of souvenirs and shopping. It will be of adventure, experience, and learning.

Taking the advice of many Google Searches, my clothes went at the bottom most part of the pack, followed by toiletries, undies, socks, shoes, and electronics. A sweater and an infinity scarf that I made sure to invest in a few months ago were at the top. My envelope of important documents, gadgets, tissues, and alcohol went inside the small messenger bag I brought aside from the backpack.

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Singapore Zoo (June 2014)

Clothes
We will be relying heavily on laundry services during the trip, so I brought only 5 shirts, 2 leggings, 2 loose pants, and 2 shorts. To save space, I rolled them up and secured the ends with a rubber band, then arranged them into piles inside an airtight plastic bag.

Shoes
I packed a pair of slip on shoes and rubber slippers, and my sneakers will be worn to the airport.

Undies
My rule of thumb: 3 of each.

Toiletries
When I stayed in Kuala Lumpur, I made the mistake of not bringing hair care products, and I spent 6 days washing my hair with soap. I suspect that will hound me for the rest of my life. For this trip, I bought sachets of shampoo, conditioner, insect repellent, and soap. The deodorant, toothpaste, alcohol, and cologne were small bottles. I arranged everything in one mesh bag to make things organized.

First aid
Paracetamol, loperamide, ibuprofen, antiseptic wash, hydrogen peroxide, band aids.

Money
One envelope each for food, major transportation, accommodation, and miscellaneous expenses. Per country.

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Stadium Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur (January 2015)

I compartmentalized my luggage like I was compartmentalizing my thoughts. Worries of the future in one bag, thoughts of the immigration officers in an envelope, excitement in the fanny pack, and so on.

Now the only things left for me to pack are the face towels I almost forgot about. Perhaps I should go to sleep.

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