Snowbird Update

airplanes being loaded and serviced at Dallas Airport


For some, the idea of travelling elicits images of excitement, glamour, romance – even danger and intrigue. For me, the initial flush includes building a packing list, organizing meals and snacks, choosing fiber and tools to bring with, and – oh, yeah! – choosing clothing and shoes.

We pack light. Really light. We’re away from Casa Norte* now for four months, and our packed weight was mostly non-clothing: books, electronic gear, and fiber & fiber tools. Two suitcases, one large trunk of a bag, two daypacks for everything we’re bringing for four months of living in Casa Sur*. I’ll write about the fiber & fiber tool choices in a later post.

How did we manage this? We started with our basic travel packing list, developed from Rick Steves’ Packing List with changes to suit our particular needs. (Below is a copy of our list.)

We research the weather in the area where we’re going to be, then try to pack for the average temperature and humidity. Along the way, we think about the activities we’ll be doing – walking, going out for dinner, events – and what kind of clothes we’ll need for these things. The most we pack is about a week’s worth of clothing, with me usually relying on coordinating separates for my wardrobe. I’m usually looking for things I can layer, that pack and wash easily, and that don’t wrinkle badly.

Laundry – While we’re away from home, I’m usually hand washing laundry every other day or so. This helps us avoid trips to the laundry, which can be expensive, depending on where you are, or are at least inconvenient. Frankly, I’d rather be exploring or people-watching rather than sitting in a laundromat or bringing 15 pounds of dirty clothes to the laundry – then having to go back later and pick them up! For hand washing clothes, I usually pack a bit of laundry soap (anything from those expensive liquid Tide sachets to a container of powdered laundry soap), but am not above using dish liquid or shampoo to hand wash laundry.

Packing Food – Depending on your needs and your destination, you may want to pack packaged (not fresh) food items that you might not be able to get after you arrive. For us, living in Mexico during the winter, our two big needs were ground decaf coffee and black pepper. Everything else is procurable at our destination. And, with more research and careful shopping, I may be able to change my mind about those two.

For travel day, we pack homemade sandwiches and a few protein bars to see us through up to our last flight leg. I make sandwiches ahead and freeze them, pulling them out of the freezer on the way to the airport. This trip, we had Italian roast beef and cheddar cheese on multi-grain gluten free bread. We started out the trip with a couple of apples from our tree and the last two bananas from our fruit bowl at home. We abhor airport food – having eaten only two decent meals in an airport anywhere, and so bring our own. We’ll buy coffee and water if need be, but rarely if ever buy food in an airport.

Because of TSA and Customs, we limit the foods we pack to those that can either be consumed before we reach the international customs checkpoint of the country we’re traveling to, or pack things that are okay to import. For more information on travel packing, see SmarterTravel,

Next: Our Mexican home base.

* Casa Norte / Casa Sur: our names for home north and home south.

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