headed to Africa with almost light enough luggage

For the last four days I have been surrounded by family and some of my closest friends. Together we prepared for, and then celebrated my brother’s marriage. It was beautiful, wonderful, and whimsically perfect. Over the weekend I gained another sister-in-law and another extended family. Then I drove the 4.5 hours home with some leftover wedding cake and home-made wedding beer so that I could prepare to leave today.

Most of the time I talk about the fun of travel, about the amazing places I get to see and the people I am blessed to know. And through all of this, the exotic became my normal. What I normally talk about is that beautiful, seemingly exotic image because I want to make other places and people real for those who are not there. Yet, as I talk with people about my life, I realize there is a big piece that is missing from this online conversation: the hard, mundane, and often frustrating part this life of travel. And so today, I am going to start that conversation. Not in an effort to drown out the rest of the conversation, but to add to it, to fill it out, and to make it more real.

This morning’s struggle was for a couple of pounds. Not on my body – in my luggage. To get to Northern Uganda on Wednesday morning, I am taking four flights – the last of which is on a small plane on a small airstrip. My luggage is limited to 15 kg, or slightly over 33 pounds. Total. Should be doable (I normally travel carry-on only anyway)- just remember these things: there is necessary gear because of the work I do (including photos you enjoy) and I will be hitting rainy season in three different countries. Some starting weights: rolling suitcase is 7.5 lbs, backpack is 1.5 lbs, purse is 0.5 pounds,  computer is 3 lbs, stripping the work camera down to the basics brings it down to 4.5 lbs. So… before we have talked about necessary chords, batteries, first-aid kit, toiletries, clothes, or shoes, I have used about half of my allotted weight. (And yes – it remains oddly helpful that I retrain these random pieces of knowledge.)

At the end of the day, it essentially worked out and I am crossing my fingers they ignore the 2 extra pounds. I am pretty sure that 2 oz of shampoo will be enough, that my professional folder was an unnecessary luxury, and that my feet will survive without close-toed shoes. Once I get to Northern Uganda, I will buy a local wrap to replace the 2 yards of fabric that I normally carry. Yoga pants and journal are luxury items to not be excluded, so are packed. I am beyond thankful for my Kindle.

24 hours ago I was relaxing with my family as we had a late brunch. Now I am sitting in an airport having carefully negotiated the packing, picked up my house, filled out insurance forms, finished my finances for the month, and enjoyed one last night of sleep in my own bed. It will be a good trip and I look forward to the memories that will be created.


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