Digital Nomad Round 1 - Luggage Lessons Learned

We returned to the US in mid-December 2018, as originally planned, to catch up with family before the next leg of our travels. The flight from San Jose, CR to Orlando, FL is very short, less than 3 hours and easy with no layovers.


Packing "light" is super hard when its "everything" you own. When we left Portland, we had no way to store extra items and had to get rid of everything that we didn't want to take with us. Some things I actually paid as much as $60 to ship back to some family in Florida, but not much. Because of this, our bags were originally much bigger than would be ideal. We brought essentials along with many items that served no specific role other than that we didn't want to let go of them. Obviously, you want to cut back on the volume of certain essentials like clothes and toiletries, but there's a lot of things that simply fit no category that we ended up ditching. When we left Coco, we left some books that I had brought and finished that first month, but not a whole lot else. We left them with the Canadian couple who said they could find homes for them in the community. My bag as we traveled to PV was so heavy that Daniel had to carry it and we stuck out like sore thumbs when we arrived in the early evening, with people calling to us telling us we were going to be robbed. So in PV we vowed to cut our belongings by half.


Over the course of the stay in PV, we sort of did the Marie Kondo method of selecting items we SUSPECTED to not need and putting them in a bag under the bed. If we didn't go into the bag to use it, it was a sign that we didn't need it. I decided to get rid of my main luggage bag itself and fit everything in my former carry-on temporarily, and this was a worthwhile challenge.

This worked quite well for our transfer from our first Airbnb to la Caracola, but just because of how stuffed it got we found a store that sold backpacker backpacks after much searching in town. My original bag we filled up with things and gave to Mama Africa down the road, a nice lady with a large amount of children who would also sell us empanadas on the beach. She was legitimately extremely grateful. Among those things were some raincoats (believe it or not, these were extraneous), various tools, and some shoes. We ended up ditching a foam roller with a nomadic Polish Rastafarian (who was 79 years old and looked mid-30s) that we met on the beach and hung out with for a bit.


Then, when we left for the US we ended up leaving more things, mostly clothes and craft supplies that we had bought for Gogokid after we arrived. We left them for the property manager's kids. A common theme when we would need to leave things behind is that a good percentage of them were things we acquired after we got there. Like, when you need something for a specific purpose and have no way to borrow it. For example, a corkscrew, cleaning supplies, or kitchen tools. These things are worth it sometimes even if you only use them a few times, but then we needed to donate them to the Airbnb or to others to keep ourselves light. (I now considr a corkscrew small and useful enough to travel with in my pencil case, but most places we stay at actually do have one.) I think we started out having brought two bamboo cutting boards and honestly one small one is worth bringing, but I think we ended up donating both. Workout supplies were mostly all donated, with the surviving exceptions being resistance bands (takes up almost no space), and collapsible push up bars that Daniel's quite fond of and I use as weights. Something that as always proven worth the space is superfoods, spices, and supplements. Organic whole nutmeg from a bulk bin the US takes up so little space but can be directly grated hundred of times. Small bags of spirulina, maca, are examples of things that are more expensive and less available abroad. Even pink salt is worth the space, as a lot of salt abroad has a form of sugar and/or fluoride added to it. Additionally, these are things that gradually decrease in volume, yet are hard to run out of. Needless to say, when we returned the second time we packed less. But, even a year later going to Spain, I ended up ditched 20% of the stuff I brought in the first couple nights. We learned to let go and not have attachment to physical belongings as much by traveling for long periods of time, and we were lucky to have been able to find people who could really use the things we had to leave.

 

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