STORY BY Jane Holden
There is a hilarious Portlandia episode where Carrie and Fred decide to go for a bushwalk one morning, but as they get prepared to go, they keep finding new and better gear they need to put on, or pack, before they can get going. They eventually hit the road – at dusk – on segways, in hi vis outfits, with gear strung about them like the saucepan man from the magic faraway tree. (You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3SFqV0hMyo)
The episode is a bit too close to home really. Or my sister put it laughing uproariously, when I told her we had to ‘get ready’ for a 3 month trip…. ‘A gear nut loves a big trip.’
As Maggie, the resident gear nut (expert) was readying for our trip, and updated me constantly on the latest acquisition, I would joke, where is that going to fit, in our imaginary trailer? …we’re not taking the Tardis this time?
We were only taking a single car, so this at least offered us one very real constraint: if it didn’t fit, it couldn’t go.
With this in mind, we both lost our heads in the last hours, and had a mountain of stuff packed.
But heck, what motivation! With the skills of a pro-tetris player, Maggie somehow managed to slot the whole damned lot into the pajero, Doris. (The car was named after the “apparently” colloquial Qlder saying of “having a doris.” Which roughly translates as: “having a nosy little look around, like your neighbour Doris might”.)
And what a bloody nuisance it was for the first couple of weeks! Everything needed to be accessible and everything needed to be packed away. Heavy stuff had to be packed one place, but would only fit another. Something was leaking…. was that water, or heck, Tequila!?
So, the season of “killing our darlings.” A term which was intended for writers to prune their works, but I think can be appropriately misapplied in our case.
As well as Maggie’s incredible list of all the important things one should consider packing (also on the blog). Here is a list of “darlings” that we are embarrassed, but not quite ashamed enough, to not admit we packed, and will share for your amusement and learning… (and admittedly 90% of the ridiculous stuff was packed last minute by Rose.)
But which Darlings to Kill???
- A small designer labelled, love heart shaped hot water bottle.
- An AFL ball and a soccer ball
- Travel bocce set andtennis balls, and Frisbee
- Brand New Moccasins, as well as flip flops, running shoes, walking boots, other boots and good shoes (yet to use running shoes).
- 7 different colours and textured scarves (just Rose)
- 6 different beanies, including one in the shape of an actual lamb head (just Rose)
- Actually, Rose had double the amount of clothes in general of Maggie. Mostly undies. Maybe all her undies. (Like a neurotic, worried that there wouldn’t be a washing machine between Brisbane and Perth).
- A miniature guitar and old harmonica (we can’t play either).
- Travel scrabble and bananarama (bad at both).
- A set of 6 foam puzzle piece floor mats (maybe yoga! Or for extra mattress! Or packing material! Or just cause…it was there in the shed…)
- 2 x Yoga mats and 2 x travel yoga mats (we did take one travel mat hiking, but still…)
- A big bundle of books and writing pads (this was after the books were cut back)
- Laptop andkindle andipad (in addition to actual books).
- Coloured pencils, andminiature watercolour paints andart pad.
- Many boxes of food, that included Deb mashed potato (ergh) and dried peas (several), along with good Italian olive oil andbalsamic, and multiple herbs and spices, dried garlic andonions, several varieties of nuts, quinoa and heritage-something grains or beans that had been on the home shelves (therefortoo unused)… etc … and 9 winters worth of undrunk packet soups.
- Firewood. Which we carried on the roof from Brisbane and most of which we still have with us. (Turns out dead trees are all over the place. Or the killjoy greenies from the Dept of Natural Things don’t allow wee fires all over our priceless wilderness.) Probably also the most expensive kindling on the planet outside the Antarctic, if we count the fuel costs.
- Two little cushions, with pictures of cowboy boots and cowboy hat respectively (on top of two regular size pillows and a miniature, genuine down pillow “accidently” acquired from an Emirates flight).
What darlings have you carted across a distance the size of Europe and not used, and what would you have culled … ???
Maggie is still adamant that “Moccassins are a must!” (size and thickness is no barrier), and lives in hope that Rose will learn to play miniature guitar; as Rose too lives in hope, Maggie will continue to forget she is carrying an old harmonica, and learn to love packet soup (especially on nights Rose cooks).
But the big learning for us, is that our trip was, in part about slowing down, but we crammed it full of S#*tfrom the beginning. What an exhausting list of stuff to do! Were these unrealistic expectations, or are they a reminder that we need to slow down to enjoy these things?
I think we are realising that slowing down, changing it up, and travel, actually entail a much, much, more sparing packing list. (And perhaps more honestly, we just got sick of lugging the stuff in and out of the car, and started to develop RV envy of the Grey Nomads, so had to take urgent remedial action.)
We had a cathartic culling in Alice, and some friends scored a bunch of … edibles, wearables and esoteric gear.
Pack once, Cull Twice.
Kill your darlings!
By Jane Holden
To read more about Jane and Jen’s trip, check out
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