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A Look Into My Suitcase

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I'm writing this on a plane from Vienna to Moscow Domodedovo, having left Austria on the hottest day in history. (Or the hottest August day in history, or something. Apparently, the poor people in Carinthia had to deal with 39.9•C today. It was bad enough in Vienna.)

Because of my ninja travel planning skills, it's gonna take me 12 hours to get to St Petersburg. Turns out, flights to Russia on the weekend are crazy expensive. My Vodkatrain trip starts on Monday, but I really wanted to get to St Petersburg a day early to have some more time there. So the cheapest option to get there on Sunday is a 23:15 flight to Moscow, a seven-hour layover in Domodedovo (I just love saying that. Domodedovo. I don't even know. (Domodedovo.)), and then a 10am flight to St Petersburg. I'm not really bothered, tbh; I also spent the night in Heathrow last year to get to the US, and according to Sleeping in Airports Domodedovo is an unusually nice airport, by Russian standards. (I have never been to Russia, so I don't know what their airport standards are.) Also, there might or might not be free wifi, and I have my Transsiberian Handbook to read and some Russian phrases to learn.

Anyway, the actual point of this post: In an effort to pack lighter, I put together a packing list for this trip. It's not totally basic, and I won't be travelling carry-on only, but that's mostly because my backpack-trolley hybrid is a 60L size, which wouldn't be allowed in anyway. I was trying to balance form and function, because while I do want to be practical, I also want to look nice. Everyone's favourite packing quote seems to be "When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money", but I totally agree with like this one: "Comfort has its place, but it seems rude to visit another country dressed as if you've come to mow its lawns." (David Sedaris) ;)

So here's my packing list for 40 days in Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet and Nepal, where I can - realistically - expect temperatures from 7 to 32•C. (And who the hell knows what the weather is gonna be like at Everest Base Camp.)

In my Deuter Helion 60:

Five tops (two tanks, two T-shirts, one thin cotton blouse - all mostly wrinkle-resistant)
Two cardigans (one merino, one a blend but it includes 10% silk)
A pair of thin faux-denim shorts
A pair of Levi's jeans
Three short dresses (two daytime, one for going out)
A magic skirt (lucky find in Oxford for just £10!)
Seven undies (microfibre)
A sports bra
A normal bra with detachable straps
Three pairs of socks (two SmartWool, one coolmax athletic)
A swimsuit
A black tube top/body suit (for warmth, and you never know when you'll need one of those!)
A pair of thin, long athletic trousers (to wear on the train and to sleep)
Two sleep shirts (short/long-sleeved)
Scarf and merino Buff
All in a Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack (Size L) - I've used this on my July travels as well, and I'm really impressed how well it works. (However, in an effort to keep things organised and more accessible, I was inspired by the Hobo Roll to make a fabric sack with divisions inside and string closures on both ends, to use inside the compression sack. This took me most of last night (and an old bed sheet was sacrificed), but I'm really happy with the result, and preliminary tests went well. We'll see how it holds up.)

A HappyRainyDays rain trench

A pair of Converse (with comfy insoles)
A pair of Ecco Flash sandals (except I got them cheaper and in dark brown)
A pair of Geox wedge sandals (for going out - I will not be denied one pair of really nice shoes!)
A pair of flip flops (for showers, around the hostels and the trains)

A PackTowl towel and a small face towel

Travel hairbrush
(one of those vibrating ones, maybe a better substitute for my electric one)
Small toothpaste tube
(also doubles as sewing thread if necessary)
Lush Seanik solid shampoo (doubles as shower gel, and smells amazing)
Small tube of conditioner
(doubles triples as face cream and body lotion)
Rei travel detergent
Small bottle of insect repellent
Spare contacts
Contact fluid
This and that
(Some Q-tips, facial cleansing wipes, exfoliating glove, nail clipper, tiny bottles of hair oil and anti-yellow rinse for my hair, ear plugs, eyedrops, tiny bottle of nail polish)
All in my Jack Wolfskin Waschsalon

Universal sink plug and clothes line (they came together)
Tiny sewing kit
Cable number lock
Number lock
(for the bag)

REI Stuff Travel Daypack

Sea to Summit XMug
Plastic shaker with spices
(all for food on trains)

iPhone charger, iPad charger, with two cables and one micro USB cable for my camera and Kindle
2-plug socket adapter thing
(whatever you call it)
Travel hair straightener
(painkillers, cold pills, diarrhoea pills, stomach settler, antihistamine, antiseptic, contraceptives, garlic pills because I suffer from the delusion that this will help me avoid altitude sickness) in blister packs
All in a small, light H&M hand bag (faux leather, in case I want something classier)

In my Pacsafe Citysafe 200 (Herringbone):
iPhone with earphones
iPad with Logitech Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover in a neoprene sleeve
iPod Touch
(very old now, but in case the battery of the other two runs out)
Kindle Touch in folio case with reading lamp
Sony NEX 3N camera with an extra memory card
Two 32 GB memory cards with videos and the iPad camera connection kit
(to watch movies/TV shows on the iPad)
Pacsafe RFIDtec 200 wallet (tbh, I mostly got this because it was yellow and nice and has a ring to clip it to the bag)
Platypus water bottle
Memory foam eye mask
Basic make-up
Evolution Neckpillow
The Transsiberian Handbook

On me:
Pacsafe Coversafe belt wallet (can be fastened to the belt loops, or if I'm wearing a dress I have elastric straps so I can keep it on my hip)

And because I went grocery shopping yesterday, I threw in a few food supplies for the train rides - mostly instant cup soups (the tomato can double as pasta sauce), dried bacon, that usually terrible fake parmesan dehydrated grated cheese. Though the most important staple for going a few days without a fridge I'll have to get in Russia - NUTELLA.

Some things I considered bringing but ultimately didn't:
A sleep sheet (I have the silk Cocoon TravelSheet, but tbh, I've been staying in hostels for years and never needed one.)
Trekking/Zip-off trousers (I literally could not bring myself to buy those.)

We'll see how I feel about this list when I'm back - until then I'll try to keep my things more or less in order. Most importantly, my bag is half-empty -- hello, souvenirs!

PS: My Prada-wearing seat neighbour (who has that very specific Russian rich girl look) is getting plastered on FlyNiki red wine. Cheers!

PPS: Domodedovo has free wifi. Domodedovo is the best. (Also insanely busy during the night - do Russians love to fly when it's dark out?)

This featured blog entry was written by feeverte from the blog Second Star to the Right.
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By feeverte

Posted Sun, Aug 04, 2013 | Russia | Comments