Now that I am no longer officially employed as a Physical Therapist, my full time job for the next 2 days will be PACKING.
Fortunately, I have spent the last couple of weeks planning and piling, so it should be fairly simple to get everything loaded up and ready to go by Wednesday morning. I think the hardest part is going to be deciding what NOT to bring.
I have been thankful for Pinterest during the brainstorming phase to help me remember some of the essentials for international travel. I have read both the Ultimate Female Packing List for South America and this Packing List for South America a couple of times, and what I am amazed by is there ability to pack everything into a carry on backpack!
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for traveling light. Last year, I traveled to Germany and Spain for 2 weeks with just a carry on and a purse. I summitted the second highest peak in the Bavarian alps, danced the night away down town Barcelona, and swam in the Mediterranean Sea off the island of Mallorca. Despite the variety of climates and activities, I didn’t seem to have a problem fitting everything into a small carry on. However, this trip is a different story!
My biggest challenge is clothing. I don’t know if it is the length of time I will be gone (3.5 months) or the fact that I have never been to South America before, but I am struggling to get my wardrobe planned to cover all the various settings I will be in.
If it were my choice, I would just pack athletic and hiking clothes and call it good, but I have been told by some locals that my preferred attire may be okay on hiking excursions or trips to the Amazon/Coast but not in Quito. Apparently, Quito has a pretty stringent dress code, and I can expect to be turned away by restaurants if I am wearing athletic shoes or workout wear.
I have to remember that I am not going to Ecuador to just adventure, explore, and hike (though that is a major incentive to go). My primary objective is to volunteer as a professional, study the Spanish language in a local school, and immerse myself in the culture.
That being said, I am struggling to plan for professional work clothes, snazzy street clothes, and dressy evening attire while also making sure I pack for hiking, running, swimming, and exploring.
Fortunately, I am not pressuring myself to pack for 3.5 months in a carry on alone like the writers of the posts above. Instead, I plan to bring one rolling checked bag (High Sierra 32″ Rolling Backpack Duffel), and one day pack carry-on (in which many of the items in the below image will reside). I would also like to find one small travel tote/purse to store high priority items like passport/wallet/phone, but I haven’t had much luck in this department yet.
In the meantime, I am making my list and checking it twice, and hoping that it contains all the essentials I will need to pack in the next 2 days!
….Packing Update: Thank goodness for packing cubes! Every single item that I am bringing (sans shoes) now has a home in a fun and practical pouch. Even my snacks, electronics, and toiletries have their own separate container. Yay for organization! 🙂