So even though we’ve only hit 5 of our 25+ countries so far, we’ve already learned many a thing about packing and luggage!
In case you didn’t know, Nick is the packing MASTER. Always has been – whether it’s luggage for a trip, packing up for a move, or fitting everything perfectly into the car for a road trip, Nick will efficiently and effectively make it all fit. So he was assigned to be the “gear guy” and the packing master in our delegation of duties for this trip! And let me tell you…this man did some RESEARCH on the best bags, best travel gadgets and best compartment/packing cubes we could use in conjunction with one another to maximize what we could bring.
We decided, after careful consideration and weighing options, that four backpacks would be the way to go, as opposed to any rollerbag suitcases. We visited Cuba in 2018 and went far afield from metropolitan Havana, visiting Vinales. Vinales, with its wide valleys, soaring mountains, horse rides and coffee plantations was probably the highlight of our entire trip to Cuba. The people were kind, the food amazing, the cigars and coffee were just what you’d expect. Except the “sustainable farm” we were staying at wasn’t *quite* clear on directions. Which turned into us (read: Nick) carrying a suitcase down a multi-mile long dirt road… Having that lesson firmly burned into our memory, we considered what to do for our Reindeers Round the World trip.
While Western Europe constitutes the first half of our trip, crowded, hot and not-quite-as-developed parts of Southeast Asia/India/Nepal are also on the list…so the thought of dragging a huge and heavy suitcase through half a mile of gravel, uphill to a hostel in Vietnam just didn’t sound appealing. We both felt capable of handling a front pack and a backpack and tested it out multiple times!
Then we unpacked and repacked a few times post-trip starting. And wondered…should we have brought a big rollerbag suitcase in lieu of one of these (very heavy) backpacks? Would it have given us more space while minimizing the strain on our bodies? Or would we be kicking ourselves in Southeast Asia when we were trekking up hills, through gravel in 100 degree weather? We hemmed and hawed at a cafe in Paris, discussing the pros and cons and decided – both options are going to be a pain at some point on this trip. A backpack when we have a longer walk with all our stuff and a rollerbag when we are in the middle of nowhere. So we decided to go for it and buy a relatively inexpensive large rollerbag on our last morning in Paris and transfer the entire heavy pack into it, to be repacked later.
The walk to the metro and through the airport was notably easier with the weight being transferred off our backs and into/on top of the large suitcase we just got and we were feeling MIGHTY fine. Bag checked, no problem. Feeling happy and good about it.
Then, funny story.
We landed in Oslo around 11:30pm and excitedly stood to pickup our new large, gold-in-color suitcase from the luggage belt when we noticed a problem. Two problems. Of the four sets of wheels at the bottom of this very large bag, TWO SETS WERE GONE. Just straight up missing. Like maybe the baggage guys threw it at *just* the right angle and speed to knock two sets off while loading or unloading the bags. Literally no way to fix it. Just a useless, brand new suitcase that we only got to use on one of our many, many legs of our journey.
Luckily (truly truly), we both travel so well together and keep each other in good spirits, even when these things happen, that we figured it out almost immediately and abandoned the useless gold luggage at the Oslo airport.
SO…we are back to square one, using all our original bags. But we’ve decided that the comfort of lugging the bags from place to place is more important than anything else. We’ll see when we get to Prague and Krakow (where we assume notably lower prices than in Norway) where our backs (and heads and hearts) take us…