Can I live out of a backpack for 10 months?

A childhood friend has just spent two weeks in China with her husband and two children. When we caught up over the weekend to share tips for our trip, she animatedly regaled us with stories from their travels, which started out with having to buy their six-year old-son and three-year-old daughter an entirely new wardrobe.


​​They'd arrived in China and after waiting what seemed an eternity for all their luggage, realised the brown suitcase they'd packed for the children was never going to arrive as is it had never left their Cape Town home.

​Guillaume laughs that one of the first things I did when we started planning the trip was the packing lists. We'd decided early on that we'd only be traveling with two large backpacks as featured here, one smaller one for our six-year-old to hopefully carry and one piece of carry-on luggage each. It would therefore be easier to carry and simpler to keep track of.


For the last four years (the age of our younger son) I've used a nifty app called PackList, which is free on the App Store.


You insert the following:


  • Destination

  • Trip type - Vacation or business

  • Climate - Hot, moderate or cold

  • Start and end date

  • Number of people


You also have the option of a trip notification, which I usually only use when leaving our holiday destination as packing for a trip is usually more exciting than cramming everything in again at the end. The PackList spits out a proposed list of items, which is easily adapted to quantity and items you may deem unnecessary.


The only downside however is that it's not easily exportable and you can't pick it up on another device, so when the kids have the iPad it's impossible to reference it.


A few weeks ago though I came across an interesting article titled How to Pack a Carry-On Bag to Avoid Checking a Bag in the New York Times, which among the millions of pieces written about packing on the Internet, it actually gave practical advice on how many pairs of shoes to pack and why.


While the PackList may be handy for me to keep track of my boys' things, limiting myself to a functional without taking out the 'fun' wardrobe for our trip is important.


Here's what MY packing list looks like so far:


  • Running shoes as I'll be training for the Great Wall Marathon along the way

  • Closed walking shoes and flip flops

  • Nine tops including at least two running ones

  • Two pairs of pants (not the undergarment kind)

  • Two pairs of running tights

  • One dress

  • Seven sets of underwear excl. two sports bras

  • Two pairs of shorts

  • All-weather jacket

  • Travel-size toiletries incl. a great selection of travel-size skin products from Dermalogica


That's it.


I'd bought Guillaume an earlier version of the travel pack below from Cape Union Mart several years ago and got myself one ahead of this trip. We actually shared it on previous two week trips to India and Cuba. This time round I'll still be sharing, but with my four-year-old instead.


Must admit, our packing plans seem a tad ambitious after the chat with our friends, who came back from China with a whopping 11 suitcases. Can I live out of a backpack for 10 months? Will I be able to resist shopping? Time will tell, I guess.

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