This was bound to happen, I guess. At some point every traveler has to fess up and admit it, on the internet for everyone to see: I overpacked

A few weeks before I left on this trip I packed up both of my bags, hoisted them on my shoulders and walked from my apartment to downtown Minneapolis to meet a friend for lunch. When I saw him, I was more than a little cocky about how ‘easy’ and ‘light’ my bags were. Three miles and a little bit of sweat later I practically floated into my apartment, a-glow from how low-maintenance and non-materialistic I am.  

What. a. joke. 

It turns out walking in flat, air-conditioned skyways, fully hydrated isn’t a great way to test your pack weight when preparing to travel around SE Asia. Minor obstacles like, oh I don’t know, stairs and 95-degree heat are things I didn’t think about. Its funny how scrambling up sloping rock covered in leaves and gravel, the hot sun beating down on you and your two stupid backpacks made you get real honest about exactly how minimalistic you actually are. 53 lbs is about half my weight, so by the time Rolf tucked my overweight arse under a boulder to get us some water, I’m openly berating myself for bringing five tank tops, two dresses, two toothbrushes, HAIR PRODUCT, two bras, etc. That junk lasted until the next time we had to carry it, at which point I was giving clothes and toiletries away like Oprah. 

See ya never, junk.

You know what else was a huge mistake? Reading the RTW travel checklists of non-climbers, because most of them don’t factor in the 29lb buddha belly bag full of climbing gear. I learned the hard way that the trade off for getting to climb around the world is that I have to pare down on other luxuries. I mean, in the end, I’ll take my frizzy hair and smelly clothes any day, because I get to see views of the world only available to climbers, and climb on long, beautiful limestone. So I’ll keep tossing the extra weight in exchange for the beauty I get to see from up high. 

I thought I was different, a minimalist, an experienced backpacker. Nope, just another shlep learning how much she doesn’t need. 

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