I Love My Kindle

Over many years of traveling together, Kenny and I have highly (overly?) engineered our packing and our travel gear collection. Packing for the fall actually involved very little new gear acquisition – we’re at the point now where we walk around REI and can’t find anything that we need (a true sign that we’ve lived in Seattle too long?) But one of the items we did pick up, and which I now cannot live without, was the Kindle 2.

The most obvious reason that I love the Kindle is the space that it saves– it’s much easier to slide a Kindle into my bag than trying to cram in 10 or more books. And now that all of the Lonely Planets are available on the Kindle, we don’t even need to carry bulky guide books (and while we were on the fence before, this move puts us firmly on the LP side of the Lonely Planet v. Rough Guide debate). It’s also much easier to find the books that we want in the Kindle Store than it was in Indian bookstores. And of course purchasing and then downloading a book instantly certainly beats waiting two days for it to arrive in the mail.

I also love the huge selection of public domain books, which is still most of what I’m reading on the Kindle. I feel like I’ve been reading The Count of Monte Cristo for months… I was also able to purchase much of our recommended reading list for our AJWS assignments in Thailand.

I have only a couple of complaints:

  • While the battery life is really quite good, I never have any idea how much battery I have left. The battery meter seems to jump from 50% down to empty quite suddenly.
  • Availability of books is still not as good as it could be (although of course much better than availability of non-best-seller English books in Indian bookstores).

So far, sharing one Kindle has worked out pretty well; we’ll see how we do in Thailand…

Packing Errors

Overall, I think we did well with our packing for this fall. We packed very light in the clothing department, assuming we would shop. We have purchased a few things, although not nearly as many as I thought we would, which means we’re cycling through the same clothing every few days. But we still have time to remedy that. :)

There are a few things we brought with us that we haven’t used at all:

  • Binoculars
  • Headset (in my defense, I had argued against packing this, as our laptop has a microphone anyway)
  • Long underwear (would’ve been useful for a longer trek in Nepal)
  • Wall adapters for various electronics
  • Spare bottles of sunscreen (why am I carrying four bottles of sunscreen?)

The one thing I don’t have that I really really wish I had is a pair of jeans. I brought a pair of convertibles and a pair of cargos and that’s it (great for hiking in Nepal, not so great for going out to restaurants and bars in Bangalore). I asked Archana where she usually buys jeans and her answer was, “not in India.” Sigh.

Packing for the Fall

Our goal is to pack as little as possible, but of course we need (and want) a lot of stuff:

  • Documentation: passports, flight confirmations, immunization records
  • Drugs, vitamins, first aid: antibiotics, anti-malarial, anti-virus, ibuprofen, Imodium, Neosporin, Band-Aids, bug repellent, sunscreen, supplements, etc., etc.
  • Toiletries: In some cases (i.e. things we can’t buy in Asia), we need enough to last through December. Which takes up a lot of space.
  • Minimal clothing: a few shirts, two pairs of pants, a skirt, a bathing suit, etc. A hat and a light jacket. We’re expecting to buy clothes along the way (I am especially excited to buy a saree in India).
  • Cameras: Nikon DSLR + 2 lenses (18-200mm zoom and 35mm fixed, good thing I don’t own a wide-angle or I’d bring a third); Canon point and shoot; chargers and extra batteries for both cameras
  • Computer: Laptop, power adapter, external hard drive. I’m busy installing essential software (Office, Lightroom, Live Writer, AcrossLite, Live Mesh) on the new laptop.
  • Entertainment: Zune and cable, Kindle and cable, travel Scrabble, travel guides, old New Yorkers and Atlantics to read and ditch along the way
  • Footwear: I had planned to bring two pairs of shoes, but I’m now at three – running shoes, everyday “walking around” shoes, and flip-flops. My justification is that my shoes don’t take up much space. Kenny is disciplined and has kept it at two pairs for himself.
  • The gift of sight: glasses, contacts, solution, sunglasses
  • Can’t live without: headlamps, sporks, ear plugs, eye shades, toilet paper, luggage lock, hostel sheet, compass
  • Recreation: Kenny found some really neat water weights called “AquaBells.” I’m leaving my yoga mat at home because it’s bulky. I hope I don’t regret this, but I’m assuming I can get one in India (if yogis in India even use mats?)

I’m sure we’re forgetting something. But supposedly you can get just about anything in Shanghai.