November 16th, 2021

I have the travel bug in a pretty serious way at the moment. I mean it’s really bad. I have gotten so many emails about deals on flights that are so hard to pass up at the moment. They just aren’t going quite late enough into next year for me yet but I don’t know if I can wait much longer. It is getting me fired up to go again, plus, it HAS been two years since the last trip…

Unfortunately, the ‘rona has been blowing up pretty badly in Europe so it is really stopping me from buying a ticket so far. I have seen some great deals to there, but the cheapest deals I have seen are to the tropics. That’s cool, but I am more of a Europe guy. Not that I won’t go to a tropical location but, as weird as it sounds, I just have to do more than sit on a beach to relax. I have been to Hawaii, but ten days was more than plenty and most of that I was working. I would like to experience some other tropical areas like Costs Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, or other areas in the Caribbean. Vietnam is on the list as well as possibly Thailand.

I think that our trip in February of 2020 has really helped get me through the pandemic since we came back just as it started to really get out of control. Being so fresh off of that trip and thinking about it so much was such an escape from this craziness we are going through. I still think quite a bit about both trips and it is something to feel fortunate about getting to do.

So anyway, I have been watching a bunch of travel videos on YouTube and ended up ordering a new backpack to better suit my needs. I really went back and forth on it, as I like the one I took last year, but I need to have something a bit different for my needs.

I will sell my old one and I have a weekend pack I no longer use that I can also part with (still leaves me with a waterproof dry-pack, a sling pack and a day pack). I should be able to cover the cost of the new one so it may not cost me anything extra (it was on sale!). Plus, it will help whittle down my personal inventory of stuff. The new one is better suited to do what I want.

Interestingly, I have seen it brought up in many videos that after each trip most people take a look at slimming the load down even more when they return and I am at that point. Both times I discovered there were things I packed that I could have done without. I wonder if this habit ever stops. I have never been into packing lists, but several travel sites say it’s a must so I am giving that a try. I admit I am starting to see the advantages in doing that.

The videos also got me to create a list of a couple of small things to get to help organize and I started getting things together to load it up when it gets here. Some of these videos had some great tips and there were several good ideas I had not thought of before. I have learned a lot.

Merino wool clothing, for instance, can be worn more than one day and is resistant to odors; that means you can cut down on your wardrobe some. That saves space and weight. It is made into shirts, pants, underthings, a Buff, and socks. It works great in both warm and cold weather and dries fast if it gets wet but it still will keep you warm. It can be expensive though.

I only pack one extra pair of pants and five of everything else, then when those things are worn it is time for a wash in the hotel room or visit to the neighborhood launderette, and that can be interesting – done it twice. Using merino wool I could realistically cut this down to possibly just two or three of everything and the one extra pair of pants; don’t laugh – look up videos of people who travel minimal – it is insane what they do.

I could still possibly fit an extra pair of shoes in my bag to give the others a break if I can make just a little extra room. Nobody will know so nobody cares if you wear the same thing twice in a row as long as you don’t smell. A couple of detergent packets and a travel clothesline will keep your clothes fresh enough. A trip to the laundrette was actually a fun adventure both times I have gone in Europe.

And of course, most places in the world have the basic things like toothpaste and deodorant, pain relievers and bandages; there’s really no need to stock up your luggage too much – just a few basic First Aid items is best. I enjoyed shopping for basics when I was there both times and they DO have stores in other parts of the world. I remember finding this great pain reliever called Nurofen, but I got it in Ireland and am not sure if it was available everywhere; certainly not here in the States.

There were so many tips that are helpful whether you are going domestic or international. I urge you to watch a few videos to get some ideas and maybe it will help you pack better and make your life and travels easier no matter where you go or how you get there. One-bag travel is so much fun and I urge and challenge you to give it a try.

I am giddy with anticipation to get this new pack and it will be here by Thursday. I already started getting some things organized into pouches to set it up when it arrives, but I hope I can just put stuff into pockets to save weight and minimize what I have to pack. I don’t know how the pack is set for organizing (other than the videos I watched) but it has more, and better, organization than my current pack. I will need to get a few things that are small and inexpensive, but for a few other things I can make do with stuff I already have. I know once I get this pack and set it up I will really be ready to go somewhere; maybe this wasn’t a good idea since I can hardly keep from buying one of these cheap tickets!

I do find my travel stuff inventory is getting a bit cluttered. I have been looking at and upgrading to different ways to do a few things so I will be getting rid of some extra things I have replaced and accumulated. Honestly, I found I was over-organizing stuff way too much so I have duplicates of some things. If I can make a few $$ off of things, like the packs, to offset the cost of other stuff that is good.

I was trying to set up a domestic flying bag, international flying backpack, and a road trip/trailer bag but I am not flying as much right now and many of these things can be used anywhere. That meant duplicates of some things; I was just trying to have bags all set up and have everything I needed in each but it now means I have too much stuff. I started doing that when I was traveling so much, either flying or driving, to see my parents when they were sick. I could grab any bag and I knew it was ready to go with what I needed, either flying or driving. Now I see it was unnecessary, but at the time it was helpful for me.

I did get out today and was finally able to get a few travel-related staple items I had been trying to find for a while but never found some of them until now; others I grabbed because some people mentioned them in some travel videos and I thought they were a good idea. With the shortages of certain things I wanted to go ahead and get a few of these everyday travel items while they were on the shelves.

Last week I made a giant pot of chicken broth, using 3 lbs. of fresh chicken thighs boiled in water (without salt!) in a slow-cooker until the meat fell off the bone. I added just a little bit of Better Than Bullion and holy cow…it turned out delicious. It tasted just like bone broth, which is what I wanted – I didn’t want “soup”.

After it was done I split it in half and made chicken and dumplings for supper. So good and filling on a cold Fall evening. The other half was saved for later and I added frozen egg noodles to it a few days ago and made chicken & noodles. Again, turned out so delicious I could not believe it. And there was so much food from not much chicken – about a gallon total.

Tonight I finished off the last bowl of the noodles. I kept the sodium levels pretty low and you could really taste the food. The basic broth I made tasted very natural and had a lot of flavor – kind of how you think food should taste. I have always used chicken breast meat to make anything chickeny, but I started using thighs a few years back and it makes all the difference. I was hesitant because I don’t like dark chicken meat, but thighs are somewhere in-between (actually considered white meat) and full of flavor. Cooking them in a pressure cooker is even better. It really pulls the flavor from the bones.

My beard is really coming in and it’s only been a “hair” (🤣) over two weeks. Not overly bothered by the itching too much. Still, there IS that gray thing…

I also have not had a haircut in several months. Yep, I’m turning into that long-haired bald guy again – could have the long-haired bald guy ponytail again but I haven’t done that…yet. Not getting it cut again until the ‘rona calms TF down, so I have started to look a bit rough. I’ll be shaving again in a couple of weeks so that part will go away. Not so fast on the haircut though!

That’s about all for this post. My schedule is freed up for a bit so more travel is hopefully coming up!

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