Monday, 5 March 2012

Morocco Motoring: Baggage

It's four months since we came back from Morocco and the only bits I shared with you are a few instagram photos and a story about a shower.

It's inexcusable, so today I bring you the packing strategy. This may be the one thing that stresses me out more than any other travel experience. You don't want to be hauling around tons of baggage, but you also want to be prepared. The Girl Scout in me is always worried about not having that one key thing. (I know, 'Always Prepared' is the Boy Scout motto, but I always preferred their handbook to ours. I mean outdoor survival is much more interesting than cutlery position.)

The main issue for us in packing revolved around weight. Not because we were carrying our baggage on our backs but because we planned to shop. A lot. This trip was about exploring Morocco, but we also planned to finish the Christmas shopping. Whether our families liked it or not, they were getting Moroccan textiles under the tree.

Two weeks, one backpack. Shouldn't be an issue but there are always circumstances to consider. We would probably be sweating. A lot. The days would be hot, the nights cold. Also, as a woman travelling in a Muslim country, there was a very good possibility I would have to be covered the majority of the time. I did. Additionally, we were spending one night camping in the Sahara which meant dragging a sleeping bag along (taking up valuable space). We compromised here. Pete took a sleeping bag in his bigger backpack and I packed two thin wool Masai blankets (from our last trip to Africa) in my smaller backpack. I find it unfair that based on my height I have a smaller bag but such is the math of hiking backpacks.

When packing, I start with a list, pare the list down, then add things at the last minute, usually in a panic and they never get used. I resisted that temptation this time, a little, but it meant I forgot to pack tissues, headphones and wetwipes. These things may not seem critical, but I was operating under the assumption that toilet facilities would be less than hygienic and there was a good possibility we would get some kind of belly bug. (They were. We did. Twice each.) I had the meds for 'traveller's sickness' but I forgot the materials.

I did, however, remember to pack four packages of ginger snap cookies. These ended up being the most important item in my bag. These and my two sarongs.

Luckily, style wasn't a huge concern for this particular trip which made packing easier. However, I also knew we would be taking a lot of photos and, vainly, I didn't want to look too haphazard in the photographic evidence.

Here is what I eventually packed after a week of adding and editing:

linen trousers
zip-off trousers
lightweight hiking trousers
yoga/running pants
lightweight knee-length skirt
3 light tanktops
3 linen shirts
2 t-shirts
2 icebreaker tanks
long-sleeve shirt
icebreaker sweater
2 lightweight cotton sarongs**
bathing suit
2 pairs socks
winter hat
yoga mits*
3 bras
7 knickers
notebook and pens
2 books
camera (cord/charger/adapter)
small backpack
day bag
ginger snaps
basic toiletries (no matter how basic, it still seems a ton)
travel towel
laundry soap

* I never used the trainers. I never used the yoga mits. Of course I didn't. In all the times I have packed them, I have only used them once. The two icebreaker tanks were a bit fancier and so let me dress up but I could have done without them.

** The sarongs may be the most important and useful things I packed (after the ginger snaps). They serve as excellent head and shoulder covering but also work as a scarf, towel, sling, tissue, smell-blocker, window shade, belt, sleeping mask, bag, skirt, shirt, etc.

On the way home I added:

3 pairs of shoes
1 pair of boots
3 carpets (another 3 in Pete's bag)
4 necklaces
4 sets of mini tagines


And still came in under airline weight restrictions. Nice.

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