Tag Archives: Packing

Souvenirs From an Around the World Journey

One of our routines in Cape Town has been a weekly trip to the vineyards of Stellenbosch and Franschoek. We tried to ship a few cases of our favorite bottles but the import laws for personal consumption in The States make this a daunting task. We thought these wines would be the few souvenirs we collected on our trip.

As I was packing our two duffle bags for our Wednesday departure for Brazil, I was struck by how similar their contents are to when we left home on November 1, 2011. Despite the colorful markets and unique items we have seen around the world, our bags are generally devoid of souvenirs. We left with two bags stuffed with clothes and shoes and are returning home with the same. Some of the clothes are different, since the kids got a change over mid way through our trip when our families showered them with gifts in India. That worked out well since they’ve been growing at such a rapid rate. Sandeep and I bought a handful of clothes along the way, generally to replace something that was wearing out.

We have been pretty strict about wanting to complete our journey light, with the same luggage that accompanied us out of New York. That has meant that we have not accumulated much by way of material goods. We have restricted ourselves to two mementos from each country. The first is a Christmas ornament. Ever since Sandeep and I started dating, we have been collecting ornaments from every place we travel. These aren’t traditional round glass ornaments, but rather something we can hang on a tree that reminds us of where we have been. They range from a Thai hanging elephant to a wooden South African flag.

Our other collection is coins. We have gathered two coins from every country, one for each of the kids. We used these currencies every day, yet when the kids grow up they may not exist in their current form (the Euro as an example!). The kids also started an impromptu collection of stones and sea shells. We’re not sure how the kids will decipher the origins, but they feel very attached to their selections.

It would be wonderful to fill our new home with things that remind us of this journey but it’s impossible to materialize memories. How do you carry the experience of climbing a Himalayan mountain or eating at a hawker market? We can’t bottle the Greek sea air or travel with a Turkish hammam. We’re so happy to have our stories documented on this blog. Each post will take us closer to where we were. We’ll reminisce extra every Christmas as we look up at the tree. We may forget where each shell came from, but hopefully not the  happiness we felt as we collected them.


Filed under South Africa, Travel With Kids

Packing for Around the World Travel

Last night we went through our packing ritual. We have it down to an art at this point. It used to take us hours to collect, strategize and execute on getting all our stuff into two duffel bags. Now we know where every thing goes – the exact placement of every sock and diaper – to allow the zippers to seal.

Our first task is collecting all our stuff. Inevitably two thing go missing, my sunglasses and Taniya, Ava’s doll. We leave tomorrow morning for Greece and we still have to find either. Taniya usually makes a magical appearance just as we are about to lose hope, as if she’s protesting our departure and held out until the last minute before agreeing to join us. My sunglasses seem to have many lives.

We then begin stuffing the bags. First, let me tell you that these are magic bags (thank you The North Face). Every time I see our stuff gathered for packing I swear it’s not going to fit. There must be a secret compartment in these bags because they take all our clothes, an inflatable car seat, a year’s worth of sunscreen, insect repellant, contacts for two people and other toiletries, electronic paraphernalia, and oh so many shoes.

If you’re suspicious about the amount of stuff we carry, let me introduce you to our shoes (starting from behind Ava’s head and going clockwise). I only mention the brands when I am impressed by their resilience and quality. I’m also going to put a plug in here for Zappos because we bought and returned so many pairs of shoes from them before deciding this lot was worthy of around the world travel.

Diya’s flip flops (hidden behind Ava’s head) – Perfect for pool lounging

Sandeep Keens – For extreme heat when shoes are unbearable

Ava’s Crocs – Her everyday shoes only because she refuses to wear anything else.

Diya’s running shoes – Perhaps the largest waste of space.

Sandeep’s running shoes – He uses them a lot more than I do.

Kayan’s Crocs – The shoes he dubbed as “my two-way shoes”

Sandeep’s Sauconys – Sandeep’s everyday shoes

Sandeep’s blue canvas shoes – Serves the split personality of evening attire and dirt gear

Ava’s Keens – She’s slowly warming up to them because they are pink

Diya’s Pumas – My everyday shoes. Ok, I like red shoes too.

Diya’s gold sandals – I’ve worn these only a handful of times and keep thinking of leaving them behind but I love them.

Kayan’s Keens – The first time we put these on he cried for his two-way shoes. It’s a work in progress.

Packing is bitter-sweet. We know that one chapter of our journey is ending but also look forward to unpacking in our new home. We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again. It is such a liberating feeling to walk away (regardless of what shoes we are wearing) from a place with everything we need in two bags. Now where is that Taniya?


Filed under Travel With Kids, Turkey

Stuff We Won’t Miss

Three exhausting days of packing done. Here are some things we found lurking in our apartment that we definitely won’t miss.

– Six used toothbrushes, none of which are ours
– A twelve piece ceramic tea set
– About a dozen tupperware containers with no lids
– Three half full bottles of children’s ibuprofen
– One expired bottle of children’s ibuprofen
– A maternity suit jacket, without its companion pant
– Two gloves that don’t belong to each other
– Four cell phone chargers that don’t fit either of our phones
– Enough hair accessories to keep Ava uniquely styled every day of the year

Ava's Hairware

Even in the smallest of apartments, most of us are privileged to be surrounded by things we ignore. Given that we are packing light, it will be a change for us to be in a position where we appreciate everything we have.

What stuff are you ignoring in your home?


Filed under Pre-Trip

Packing Up House

We pulled the trigger on this trip when we bought our tickets several weeks ago. Since then, here’s a partial list of what we’ve done to get ready.

– Vaccines and check-ups.
– Wills and life insurance, morbid but who knows.
– Organizing credit cards and general finances, which may not matter if we drain our savings.
– Finding renters to assume our lease.
– Booking movers and storage.
– Helping our nanny find a new family.
– Deferring Ava’s school for a year, because even a 3 year old applies to school in NYC.
– Taking photography classes so that I can provide you with pictures worth viewing.
– Painting our rented walls.

Painting the Walls

Despite this the prep work, it’s not until I started packing our lives into boxes that I felt the trip was actually doing to happen.

We ordered a 35 box home packing kit thinking that would cover us. Halfway through packing, I’m wondering if I should have saved all of those Diaper.com, Amazon and Zappos boxes. How did we end up with so much stuff? Clearly most of it is not necessary, given that we are able to fit what we need for the next 10 months into two duffle bags.

A couple of weeks ago, we were under the assumption that we would need two very large suitcases. We then realize that wheeling two bags while chasing two kids and jumping trains may not work. Instead we opted for camping bags. Our first purchase was the extra large size, which Ava and Kayan both managed to fit in together with their blankets and plenty of room to spare. We’ve since downsized further. Between doing laundry once a week and the kids outgrowing any clothes that fit, we’re packing light. Our rationale is that there are very few things we consider necessities that cannot be purchased abroad.

I asked everyone what they would miss the most about our daily lives that we can’t fit into our luggage.

“The park, because I love it and it loves me back.” “My toys.” “Dora.”

“Mamadaddyava.” The kid has no clue what’s happening.

“The view.” “My weekend coffee.”

As for me, I’ll miss my kitchen and the certainty of a hot shower.


Filed under Pre-Trip