Monday, January 14, 2013

Packing List

We've had quite a lot of requests for more information about what we packed. I'll go through everything that made our final list, and add some notes to things we didn't use, or would've changed.

We packed everything into two 60L bags. They were a bit overkill for the amount of stuff we had, but we already had them, and didn't really think it was justifiable to get another set of packs. We didn't ever really find them too big to carry around, and it meant we had room to spare for souvenirs etc. As Jerome mentioned in an earlier post, we used packing cubes which made living out of backpacks very easy. We had two sets, one yellow, one orange, so that we could easily tell what was in each one, and it was simple to just pull out what we needed even if we were at a train station.

Ziplock bags - Small, medium, and a few 2.5Gallon Ziploc bags, we used them alot! 
Silk sleeping bag liners - Didn't use these as often as we thought, but were handy to have. 
Swiss army knife - Used for many things!
Travel clothes line - Used this to dry our clothes in many places we stayed.
Quick Drying Towels
Day pack - We had one small day backpack that we used that fit into our big packs on travel days. 
Lock and lock wire - For securing our packs. We never used it - and probably wouldn't bring again.
Money Belt - Also never used it. 
Notebook and pens/pencil - Used to keep a daily log of all our adventures. 
Playing Cards - Didn't use until the last week, and then used alot! 
A watch
Metal Travel Mug - Useful for water and tea when we were staying places with no dishes.
Package of Tea filters - So we could make our own tea anywhere.
Small Pocket Notebook - Had removable pages, really handy for notes and directions
Kit of useful things in an Altoid Tin - Included: Sewing Kit, binder clips, caribeanners, safety pins.
 - We didn't have very much use for them this time, but I'd bring it again. 

TOILETRIES - All contained in a toiletries bag that hangs up
spf lipbalm
Shampoo We started w/ 2 travel bottles and added from hotels 
Nail clippers
Hair elastics, band
Hand sanitizer
Dental Floss
Laundry soap - Liquid woolite which worked well until it exploded, we'll go powder next time. 
Bar soap in container - We bought more soap along the way as we ran out
Toothbrush holder(s)
Kleenex - Brought 6 small packages, stocked up as needed 
Electric Razor - So Jerome could shave easily with no shaving cream. 

Power adapter - Multi adapter for all the plugs
Extension cord/splitter - A 3' cord that split 1 into 3 outlets 
Chargers for things - Phones and Camera
Cameras - We brought 2, it was really handy to be able to get both our points of view. 
Phones - After debate we each brought our phones, which was good as one broke. We were able to buy sim cards almost everywhere we went, to give us maps and information we needed. 
Small flashlight - Small windup one. Came in very handy on many occassions. 
Small tripod - Fit in Jerome's pocket, and helped us take some great night photos. 
Extra Camera batteries and cards - We brought 4 camera batteries (both camera's take the same ones) as well as 3 32GB cards and 1 4GB card. We bought another 32GB Card on the way. 
Earbuds -  A pair for each of us
Pouch for cords etc - Had a small pouch to hold all of this stuff
Extra phone batteries - We had second batteries for our phones. 

Before Trip

Note: Everything but the golf shirt was quick dry. 
Rain Jacket
Flip flops
2 Smartwool next to skin T-shirts
4 pairs Ex Officio underwear
5 pairs socks
2 pairs long pants - including 1 pair of zip offs
1 pair of Shorts
2 Button up T Shirts
1 Golf Shirt
2 bras, + 1 sports bra
1 Tank top
1 Zip up light fleece hoodie
1 Dressy jacket
Running Shoes

Note: Everything was quick dry. 
Rain Jacket
Flip Flops
4 pairs Ex-officio boxers
5 pairs of socks
2 pairs pants - including 1 pair of 1 zip offs
1 pair Shorts/bathing trunks
1 Smartwool Next to Skin Long sleeved Shirt
2 Northface quickdry t-shirts
3 collared T-shirts
1 long sleeved shirt
Running Shoes

After Trip


These teas we got in London and Switzerland at the start of our trip and we carried them with us and drank them throughout our whole trip. They migrated between our backpacks. 

Some delicious tea from Mariage Freres in Paris. We didn't open this on the trip. 
It was carried in Laura's backpack. 

Wooden dice to play backgammon with, and a tiny wooden turtle I got for my Birthday in Hallstatt. 
The dice were carried in Jerome's pocket and well used, and the tiny turtle was carried inside the Marriage Freres tea tin. 

Two tiny containers of salt from the Hallstatt salt mine - the oldest in the world! 
They came in handy in Italy when we both caught a cold and used the salt for gargling! 

A pair of small wine/liqueur glasses from Prague. 
Carried in Laura's backpack carefully wrapped up in socks.

A very well packed carpet from Morocco. Which was carried in Laura's backpack

A neat expanding chess set from Morocco that was carried in Jerome's Backpack

 A cool damascene plate from Morocco. Carried in Jerome's backpack wrapped in our desert scarves. 

 Cactus silk thread from Morocco. Carried in Laura's Backpack.

Shortbread from Marks & Spencers in London picked up on our way home. 

We stocked up on tea from Twinings in London before we came back too! 

 And some Harrod's Tea too.

And on the recommendation of Jerome's Aunt Kathleen, we picked up this amazing plum pudding which we brought home and ate at Christmas with our family! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Facts and FAQs About Our Trip

Happy New Year! 
Starting this new year we have been thinking back on how lucky we were last year to have the wonderful opportunity to go on our big trip. It was a great experience, and we were touched by how many of you have followed along and told us how much you enjoyed our accounts of it. We still have about a month of the trip to post, so we'll be working on that as soon as we can, but we thought we'd put together a fact and FAQ post to answer some of the questions we been asked the most to tide you over. Thanks for reading along, and we hope you continue to share our adventures with us for the year to come!

Where did you visit?
We visited 12 countries: United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Morocco, Spain, and Sweden.

We stayed in 33 places: London, Paris, Lausanne, Gimmelwald, Lucerne, Munich, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Rome, Pienza, Bologna, Marrakech, Ouarzazate, M'Hamid. Erg Chegaga, Dades Gorge, Meknes, Chefchaouen, Tarifa, Granada, Cabo de Gata, Alfaro, San Sebastian, Carcasonne, Figueres, Barcelona, Uppsala, Stockholm,

How long did you go for?
We left on August 12, 2012 and returned on November 9, 2012, a total of 90 days!

Which places did you like the most?
Both Laura and I loved Gimmewald, Switzerland. The scenery was extraordinary and we really enjoyed hiking on the well-marked and well maintained trails.

Click to enlarge and see if you can find Laura in the Picture (25112 x 1861 pixels)
We both agree that Gimmelwald was our favorite, but in second place, we disagree.  Laura liked London and Pienza, Italy, whereas, I preferred Morocco (I particularly enjoyed learning about a different culture and I enjoyed our trip to the desert).

Where did you stay?
We stayed in hotels, hostels, airbnb, and with family. If you've never used airbnb before, we highly recommend it. Airbnb is a site that connects travelers and hosts across the world. Anyone with an extra bedroom (or couch) can become a host by posting their room on the site. We stayed in a number of airbnb places where we got the entire apartment to ourselves and also a couple where we just had a room in the host's house. Having the place to yourself is nice, but it's also nice to get to know some of the locals.  In bologna, our host taught us how to make pasta!

In total we had 89 nights:

35 nights in airbnb
20 nights in hotels
11 nights in bed and breakfasts
11 nights with friends and family
6 nights in hostels
4 nights in transit (2 night trains, one night flying, one night in the airport)
2 nights in the tents in the desert

How did you get around? 
Planes, trains and automobiles, ferries, buses and many many kilometres of walking.
We flew to and from London, as well as taking discount flights from Warsaw to Rome, Bologna to Casablanca, Barcelona to Stockholm and Stockholm to London. Europe has some really good discount airlines; We used Wizz air, Jet4you and Ryan Air.
We spent most of our time travelling between cities by train. We got a Eurail Global pass which allowed us to travel whenever and wherever we wanted in Europe for a month. We took a total of 25 train trips in that month taking us from Paris all the way to Warsaw.
To travel around Spain, we ended up renting a smart car. It was a lot of fun and we got to see different things than we would have by train. We ended up driving 2576km throughout Spain and Southern France.
On a daily basis we walked mostly everywhere. We did take advantage of the metro/subway systems in London, Paris and Budapest when we wanted to go farther or get around quicker.

How many languages did you have to decipher?
We encountered a total of 14 different languages throughout our travels. English, French, Swiss German, German, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Italian, Arabic, Berber, Spanish, Basque, Catalan and Swedish. Our french helped us out the most, working in France, Switzerland and Morocco.

How many currencies did you have to exchange your money into? 
You'd think that the Euro would mean that we hardly had any different types of money, but we handled a surprising 8 types of currencies still! British Pounds, Euros, Swiss Francs, Czech korunas, Hungarian forints, Polish złoty, Moroccan dirham and Swedish Krona.

How much stuff did you bring for 3 months? 
We travelled surprisingly light. At the start of our trip our bags each weighed only 10kg (22lbs) each. They weighed it at 13.9kg (30lbs) and 16.5kg (36lbs) each at the airport on the way home. We had a very strict packing list, and things had to have a very good reason to make it onto the list.

Some other fun facts:

9 Number of stamps we got in each of our Passports
12 Types of tea we bought to bring back with us
12L Amount of beer we drank in total in Munich
15lbs Amount of weight we lost in total on the trip
27 Number of Unesco World Heritage Sites we visited
48.6gb Amount of space our photos and videos took up
13751 Number of photographs we took on the trip