Quiz time, armchair travelers!
How fast do you go through a tube of toothpaste?
How about a can of shaving cream? A bottle of body lotion? A stick of deodorant?
Many have asked how we pack for six months steaming around the globe. Down to seven days sailing, what follows in the first installment of our two-part answer.
180 Days of Toothpaste
When we started thinking about packing to spend 180 days going around the world, determining our burn rate on toiletries and cosmetics was one of our first steps.
Sure, we could take our chances on finding Smashbox Photo Finish in Ho Chi Minh City, but that would waste precious time and likely be futile. Paying onboard prices for things we could buy economically at home felt wasteful, and (not naming names) some of us didn’t want to make do with whatever local substitute we came across around the world.
At the risk of forever being labeled “obsessive,” this is how we established burn rate.
Beginning last spring, whenever we opened a new tube or bottle or stick or jar or anything we knew we would want for the journey, we labeled it with the date. By December and time to pack, we knew our burn rate and bought a sufficient supply of each product to get us through. (For the record, we each will need 2.5 tubes of toothpaste for 180 days, but Louis can get through the entire trip with one can of Harry’s foaming shave cream.)
How High Is Your Bed
Next came luggage-planning.
Our Oceania Cruises fare included delivering four pieces of luggage to our cabin at the outset of the cruise and back home at the end of the journey, all at no cost to us. Each bag could weigh up to 50 pounds, for a total of 200 pounds in all, which sounds like a lot until you stockpile six months of toiletries and throw in a few books and extra hangers. We can also carry luggage aboard, like the backpacks holding our electronics and other valuables.
Theoretically, this means there is no limit to how much stuff we can bring aboard Insignia but for one little catch: stashing the bags. The ship doesn’t store them for us. Luggage needs to fit under the bed, i.e., into a space 10 inches/26 cm high, 66.5 inches/175 cm wide and 66.75 inches/170 cm/ long.
With that in mind, we chose rolling duffels (those wheeled contraptions with a soft upper body that collapses when empty into a semi-rigid bottom less than 10 inches tall) as our workhorses and supplemented them with one mid-sized suitcase and a military camo duffel from Louis’s news days that is so voluminous it can hold Doris herself.
At further risk of forever being labeled “obsessive,” we outlined the perimeter of the bed in painter’s tape on our living room rug to confirm the bags would fit.
It did, as long as we left the suitcase open, and with room to spare for our carryons. With any luck, the cabin shelves and drawers would hold whatever we were using at any given time, and we could store the rest (e.g., shorts in the Antarctic, down jackets in India) in the empty bags under the bed.
The Weather Dive
But what exactly did we want to pack in those bags? For that, Doris went into “weather wonking” mode.
Long-time Partout followers may remember our ode to weather wonking in Weather Wise: A Practical Partout. Cutting to the chase (and at even further risk of appearing obsessive), Doris spent a full day with our RTW itinerary in front of her and weather apps open to determine the five-year average temperature and humidity at every single port of call on our circumnavigation. Yes, all 95 of them.
She then noted the average temperature range and humidity index (dry, muggy, oppressive, miserable, etc.) on our excursion itinerary and tallied how many days we would be spending in each kind of weather. The results looked like this.
We are hoping the cooling effect of being at sea will transform some of those 20 “miserable” days into merely “oppressive”ones, but if there is truly no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing, we counted on the weather dive to help us dress ourselves to feel like the weather was fine regardless of what the thermometer might say.
With the weather data in hand and helpful advice from experienced cruising friends who had done this before (you know who you are!) under our belts, the big day finally arrived.
No, not embarkation. Packing the bags.