Round trip airfare for three to Mozambique is not inexpensive especially at Christmas time. My sister and I spent hours on the phone one fall day piecing together various one way tickets until we finally came up with the perfect combination that was in our price range. However, instead of flying the time efficient nonstop flight from JFK to Johannesburg we were going to fly from JFK to Istanbul and then Istanbul to Johannesburg after a 13.5 hour layover. Returning we would go from Johannesburg to Dubai and finally back to JFK after a 14 hour layover. I loved the idea of taking a whirlwind tour of two new to me places. Orlando was game too.
Preparing for a three week trip to Mozambique for three people while cramming in an entire month’s work into roughly 2.5 weeks while working per diem at the hospital and maintaining Carlos’ active schedule was a To Do list maker’s dream. I had at least two lists going at all times. Despite feeling fairly organized, even though I was wrapping up work related tasks about 20 minutes before we left the house, I am human and I do forget things every now and then. More on that later.
I’ve been asked how the heck do you pack for such a trip. Lists are imperative in my opinion. I have a packing list which is divided between items I really can’t live without and things I need to buy. That list gets written and rewritten numerous times throughout the packing process.
For a long trip we have to check in bags. For shorter trips we try to do a carry on only. My husband insisted we could only check two bags because his brother’s car might not be able to accommodate all of the luggage. My brother-in-law would be picking us up in Johannesburg and driving us to Mozambique. Turkish airlines allows two check in bags per person no more than 50 pounds each. Well after Orlando jammed his clothing, 4 deflated soccer balls, work boots and clothing for his brother, 3 towels, a big bottle of permethrin repellent, a jar of coconut oil, a package for a friend, and Carlos’ clothes it was well over the 50 pounds.
I reorganized and re-packed everything into the large suitcase and a smaller carry on size suitcase. Problem solved. My check in bag was under the weight limit. In the end we checked in a large suitcase, medium size suitcase, and a carry on size suitcase.
Everyone takes their own carry on and is responsible for it. I also make “survival kits for everyone.” Carlos and Orlando get large ziplock bags with a toothbrush, toothpaste, gum, a pen, ibuprofen for Orlando, lip balm, and hand wipes. This eliminates them asking me for things throughout the flight. Mine is a pretty threefold toiletry kit with travel size luxury items like jojoba oil, rose water spray, facial wipes, moisturizer, hand lotion, band aids, tea bags, and an assortment of probiotic/greens/vitamin packets to mix with water. Pampering in the sky!!
Carlos got a great new carry on for his birthday from my sister. His carry on is packed with a variety of electronics, pens, markers, a notebook, a change of clothes, a book, and bunny. This is bunny’s third trip to Mozambique. Bunny is a very well traveled stuffed animal.
Orlando took a small back pack for his iPad, headphones, phone, and charger. He would also take the carry on of food. Yes I do pack an entire carry on of healthy snacks. It’s chock full of treats from Trader Joe’s and more. I learned this trick after our first trip to Mozambique when Carlos was 2 and subsisted on basically lollipops and cookies from Amsterdam to Johannesburg. 10 hours jacked up on sugar! KLM had no food on board other than lollipops, cookies, juice and peanuts. It was horrible. The snack bag comes in handy both in flight and during layovers. There is trail mix, granola bars, applesauce, oatmeal packets, nuts, health bread (for me), and more.
My carry on is a large black vinyl bag from Banana Republic. It washes easily and is very durable. It has a small front zip pocket which is ideal for my phone. The inside is one large compartment with a zip pocket for tissues, hand wipes, etc. and two smaller open pockets perfect for easy to grab pens and a pair of sunglasses. For long trips like this my carry contains a multi sleeve envelope for passports and documents, a notebook, pens, a scarf, hair ties, my iPad, phone, and my airplane toiletries bag. The large part of the bag zips which halts pickpockets and also helps the contents from spilling out onto the X-ray belt.
Other helpful tips:
- Keep your chargers all together in a small bag or pouch
- Keep a list of important login IDs and passwords just in case you don’t have access to the Internet or your phone. I keep the logins in one suitcase and the passwords in my carry on so the information can’t be easily stolen.
- Don’t buy black luggage. I have it and I am working on getting rid of it once it wears out a little more. My next luggage will be bold and bright and very easy to spot on the luggage belt.
- Be sure to order any special meals ahead of time preferably when you book your ticket, and if you know you ordered them don’t be passive on the plane. Every flight lately I am told they have to check on it. Then they return with my vegan meal with a sticker that has my name on it so it was prepared ahead of time.
- Bring an empty water bottle that you can refill for free at the airport. Buying water is so expensive.
- Pack a smoothie cup for easy mixing of smoothies, greens packets, vitamin mixes, etc.
- If you like tea bring your own tea bags. You can heat water in most hotel rooms and getting a cup of hot water is usually free or very cheap at restaurants.
- For long flights I try not to wear makeup. It makes it easier to apply moisturizer and toner multiple times on the flight which keeps my skin feeling healthy.
Despite my great organizational skills I’m prone to forgetting things too. I made a rookie error when we left the house and didn’t review my list of “absolutely don’t leave home without it” items. OK I didn’t really have such a list, but I will now. Details to come in h e next post.
Share your packing tips. I’m always open to new ideas and love to hear how others stay organized.