3 months later – Ruminations on Packing!

3 months post-Camino and finally the post on packing!

I went home to California for Christmas and packed so much more for those 11 days than I had for the 6 weeks in Spain.  How did I manage 6 weeks living out of a backpack?  I also went up to Michigan for a long weekend recently and still had more than in Spain.  Including 4 pairs of shoes!!  (all of which I ended up wearing over the weekend, by the way).

I have also been asked about what I packed, what I needed and didn’t need, what I used and what I left behind.  I’ll attempt to analyze my packing here, but keep in mind that I didn’t weigh my full bag before I left, so though I think my pack was pretty heavy, it might not have been as bad as I felt!

I posted a short video of all the things I was packing before I left.  To practice uploading videos, of course.  How many videos got uploaded later?  0!  Yup, wishful thinking on my part!

Anyway:

What I bought over there that I had already planned on buying:
* hiking sticks – at Decathlon in Irun
Very much worth it, and worthwhile to purchase overseas.  I had no idea if they’d be confiscated if I bought them in the USA and carried them on the planes overseas, but I didn’t want to chance it.  I also didn’t want to check my luggage, so I planned to find them overseas.

The tourist office in Irun pointed us to the right bus stop and correct bus number to head out to the shopping center.  There was also a large supermarket in the same parking lot as the Decathlon, helpful for purchasing initial provisions.

* a fleece – I purposely didn’t bring a lot of warm clothes because the initial weather reports prior to my departure said that at least the beginning of October would be warm. So I decided to deal with an added expense (only 10Euros!) in order to have more room in my pack for other things.  I ended up not even needing one until Finisterre – 3 days before I came home!

What I bought over there that I didn’t expect to buy:
*conditioner
Actually shampoo plus conditioner in one because they didn’t sell just a small bottle of conditioner.  Again, wishful thinking that my everything liquid soap and Dr Bronners everything bar soap would be good enough for, well, everything.  My hair desperately needed a little help in the detangling department. 🙂

* bed bug medicine – ’nuff said 😦

* blister pads
I had a few Band-Aid brand ones form Wal-Mart, but ended up with blisters on my toes and the Band-Aid ones were too big.  The Spanish word for blister is ‘ampollo’.  And the Spanish word for toe is ‘dedo.’ I learned those quickly 😉 Compeed sells a great variety of sizes of blister pads and can be found in nearly any pharmacy.

* feet cushions
I noticed that lots of the European walkers had these foot pads that cushioned the ball of the feet and stayed in place by a loop that went around the middle toe.  After a couple of weeks walking, I noticed my shoes were out of padding, so I gave in and found some.  They helped a bit, but if there were to be a next time, I’d bring full insoles.

* an Ace Bandage
For my sprained ankle.

Things I wished I had:
* chapstick
That’s it.  And I survived without it, so I guess it wasn’t really a necessity.

Things I left behind along the way (AKA – lessons in detachment):
* my tarp (the Dutch wanderers ended up using it)
* my sleeping mat (honestly the hardest thing to give up because it was a really nice one, but it was bulky and I didn’t see myself needing it ever after I got out on the trail for a few days)
* my roll of gorilla tape (similar to duct tape) – I taped a few pieces to my water bottle just in case I needed them later, as the entire roll was surprisingly heavy for its size
* my lightweight black scarf (a cheap pashmina-type). Usually an essential when I travel as it it useful as a wrap, pillow, extra towel, scarf, head scarf, etc. it just was too bulky (though lightweight) to justify staying in my pack.

Things I accidentally forgot places:
* my electrical adapter – plugged into the wall in the hostel in Bilbao

Things I wouldn’t have brought if I had to do it over again:
* a separate camera – my phone did wonderfully well
* the map of Spain – it was looked at by me or others approximately 3 times
* my little tablet – most disappointing of all, as I thought the built-in keyboard in the case would make things easier for typing, but my fingers could never quite get used to it and my phone again turned out to be easier.  Oh well, it became a Christmas present for my brother and his family 🙂

Things I left behind at the end because there was no point to bring them home:
my zip-off hiking pants
hiking shoes
1 shirt
the poncho

What I did bring and used with regularity:
zip-off convertible hiking pants
another pair of hiking pants
a skirt (I like hiking in a skirt and it was comfy to sleep in)
3 short-sleeved shirts
1 long-sleeved shirt
1 tank top
windbreaker/lightweight jacket
underclothing
sun hat
2 pairs thick socks
2 pairs thin liner socks
hiking shoes
poncho (with hood – big enough to cover me and my pack)
thin towel (I googled ‘fouta’)
2 bandanas
sleeping bag (some places didn’t have any bed coverings and we did have chilly nights, so a liner wouldn’t have sufficed had I even brought one 🙂
head lamp
small first aid kit (REI’s half-pound lightweight kit)
additional band-aids plus blister bandaids
sport tape
ibuprofen
my chaco’s (good for shower shoes and when I just couldn’t stand my socks and hiking shoes anymore)
toiletries (small sizes, so they would fit in a Ziploc bag and pass through TSA security)
Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in a citrus scent (I learned form last year that the camp soap got things relatively clean, but not always smelling fresh, so the citrus oils in the bar soap helped get the stink out)
small notebook
mechanical pencil
cell phone (on airplane mode with Wi-Fi enabled – no phone charges that way!)
a lightweight reusable shopping bag (great for around towns and at grocery stores)
a money belt (to hide under my clothes)
Ziploc bags of varying sizes (for rain protection – I actually could have used a few more)
10 clothespins
a mesh bag for laundry
a small length of string for a clothesline
2 liter camelback water holder
extra water bottle
my Kindle (I had the guidebook uploaded on it, as well as a couple extra documents of notes, plus it had my Bible and other reading material already on it – it was great to have something smaller and lighter than any book I could find)
charger (1 fit both my phone and Kindle)
gum
Marian consecration pamphlet
passport
pilgrim credential (I wrote away for it before I left, not knowing if I would get it in time, but I did!)

Packed at the airport, ready to go!

Packed at the airport, ready to go!

A couple days in, when my clothes didn't dry overnight, so I tied them to the outside.

A couple days in, when my clothes didn’t dry overnight, so I tied them to the outside.

The only day I wore the scarf, and only because all the rest of my clothes were in the laundry.

The only day I wore the scarf, and only because all the rest of my clothes were in the laundry.

The reason I needed bedbug medicine!

The reason I needed bedbug medicine!

On the airport train, back to Madrid!

On the airport train, back to Madrid!

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