Things are getting exciting, we are getting 3 month Eurail Passes; the number one item on my bucket list since the first time I went to Europe.
New Mission: Packing for 3 months for 2 adults and a toddler in 2 backpacks. The 2 adults’ part was easy and was actually easier because of the limited space. When you don’t have very much space and you have to bring the bare minimum it’s actually easier. There’s no prioritizing, there no asking how much you need something. You either need it or you don’t and if you aren’t sure then you clearly don’t need it. “It” of course only refers to clothes; clearly we didn’t have room for any personal items. For the little one things got a little trickier.
I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but we brought her crib. We briefly considered co-sleeping which would have been the easiest, but I was pretty sure that would result in all of us going 3 nights straight without a good night’s sleep. I’ve mentioned before she was a great sleeper! Well why mess with that, if it was at all possible I was going to find a way to pack her crib and I did! We also had the smallest, lightest, most compact crib on the market at the time I could find, the Phil & Ted Traveller. Beyond the crib was diapers, wipes, food, toys, clothes and of course stuff! The key was we didn’t pack anything that couldn’t be used for multiple jobs.
I would say that as far as volume went, half went to our little one and half went to us; our clothes, electronics, toiletry items, travel books, etc. The basic spilt (on none flying days), clothes in my backpack, everything else in my husband’s backpack; and 1 small shared day pack. Normally my pack was about 40 lbs and my husbands’ about 60lbs so on days we were flying we had to do some shifting to make both packs 50 lbs (which was about the European weight limit). Knowing that at most locations we would only be spending 2 nights we needed to make sure packing and unpacking was easy; if it was miserable to pack up it would have greatly decreased the quality of our trip. Honestly, now that we are back in the states and often travel via car I look back on those days of packing and unpacking longingly. When we have the options to bring more of course we do so, but life was actually much easier when we only had to pack up a few things.
Clothes Backpack – This was the easy one. We removed the inner divider making the pack one very large tube with the main opening on the top and zippered access at the bottom. We had already started using packing cubes whenever we traveled but we used them differently this time. We used 5 of them, the first was for pj’s and warming layers the things that we would need at every location and wouldn’t change; the other 4 were all packed with exactly the same clothes. I laid the 4 cubes out and divided our clothes evenly into them with the exception of socks and underwear, (the things you only wear once), I split those between the first two. The basic premise was we would pull out the top two cubes. The first always being the extras that we wore day in and day out and the second being our day-to-day clothes. When packing up all dirty clothes would be placed in the bottom of the bag and the clean clothes would remain in the packing cubes and placed back at the top. Once one of the day-to-day packing cubes was depleted we would take the next one out combine the clean clothes into one and keep going. Underwear, socks, and ‘dirty’ baby cloths would be washed by hand in hotel rooms on an as-needed basis. Full laundry would be done on an as-needed basis as well, when affordable hotel laundry was offered and of course when staying with people we knew. In 3 months we only had to go to a laundry mat once!
Everything Else Backpack – We left the inner divider in the backpack and in the bottom half we kept things that weren’t regularly needed; not requiring this section to be unpacked. The main body of the backpack housed the crib mattress so this section was always go to have to be unpacked to get it in and out. The crib structure itself was strapped to the outside of the backpack in the same way hiking sticks might be. Along with the crib mattress was our toiletry kit, my husband’s running gear, an electronics case, and the extras diapers, wipes, etc.
I still have a full packing list if anyone is interested in seeing it, but I’ll save you from that particular piece of over sharing for the moment.