Chris and Kelly have slightly different approaches to packing for international travel.
Kelly is an experienced international traveler, which means that she will probably casually throw a few things in a bag as we walk out the door to go to the airport. Somehow everything will just fit fine in her luggage and everything she needs will be there or will be magically brought to her by travel fairies along the way.
I, on the other hand, haven't traveled much outside the country in a while, and that in combination with my general engineering approach to life's challenges means that I've been planning my packing for a while in advance of this trip. Like, weeks and months. Like, I have a room in my house dedicated to the arrangement and assembly of my trip stuff.
There was a turning point in my preparations when I read a challenge issued by world traveler and media personality Rick Steves to fit everything into a single bag that can fit in the overhead bin of any airplane (thanks again for rocking my world with this, Newell). I definitely tend to over-pack, and so the idea of this 1 small bag limit and the simplicity that would come with it was very appealing.
But, oh the irony, simplicity wasn't that simple. First I got a new bag (it just so happens that Rick Steves sells one that meets his own challenge - how convenient!) and then I got some accessories that help me get the most out of that bag (it just so happens that Rick Steves sells packing organizers, travel wash and a travel clothes line for doing your laundry in the sink, etc. - how convenient). I don't even want to think about the carbon footprint of the Amazon.com orders shipped to my house in recent weeks.
In the end, I've got a packing list and bag that I'm very happy with. I think I'll be able to exist comfortably (if not stylishly) in the varied climates of Ecuador, and I'll have the gear with me that I need to feel prepared for our adventures. (The one item that doesn't fit into my scheme is my Leatherman multi-tool, which I'll have to check in the bag that Kelly is bringing, but this is due to the security theater of the air travel system, not any lack of planning on my part.)
And still, last night I had an anxiety dream that we got to the airport to leave and I realized I'd forgotten an entire category of things in my bag, and that I was going to try driving home and back before the plane departed in hopes of restoring order to the situation. There was a highway closure that directed all traffic off to a side road, and as a part of getting on the side road, there was a checkpoint where they were inspecting passports, which I had also forgotten. Sigh. I didn't quite wake up screaming, but you get the picture.
I know that I actually can't plan for every scenario and that some of the fun of travel is letting go of control and being open to what the experience brings, even if I'm unprepared for it. Kelly's really good at that, so I expect to learn a few tips from her along the way.
But If you'll excuse me, right now I have to go practice wearing my pack on my back for a few hours to make sure the weight is distributed evenly.