Posted in Travel

Packing for 6-weeks in a carry-on

A fellow blogger has provided a strict version (and by “strict” I mean helpful) of how to pack for a 6-week trip in one carry-on bag. It is terrific advice in addition to a previous post I offered some time ago, Tips for packing light for travel — tried and proven.

I know from experience I have to remind myself each time I travel how little it takes. And the less I take the more enjoyable my journey. So I’m sharing Brittany’s sage advice with you as a friendly reminder.

Check out the most recent blog post from “Brittany from Boston.”

What are your tips for traveling light? What helps you get everything in a carry-on or backpack? What do you leave out? What do you take? 


Posted in Travel, Travel Writing, Writing

THE HERO’S JOURNEY – Preparation (Step #2)

Books on my desk checked out from the public library to prepare for my travels to Peru, include the following:

  1. Pizarro and the Conquest of the Incan Empire in World History, by Richard Worth, 2000.
    • I read this one cover to cover, but it was a short history book with 120 pages. I recognized the storyline from North American history – colonization, conquest, and capture. Same story, different names.
  2. Between the Lines: The Mystery of the Giant Ground Drawaing of Ancient Nasca, Peru by Anthony F. Aveni, 2000.
    • I read parts of this one, studied the photos and captions that told the story without details. At least I will know about Nasca when I get there.
  3. The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes, by Johan Reinhard (National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence), 2005.
    • I had not heard of the Ice Maiden before and found the story fascinating, especially through the eyes and hands of an archeologist and explorer. With only a limited time, I skimmed this for the gist of the discovery and recovery of the Ice Maiden. Fascinating. I’ll be pulling this from the library shelves when I get back. Again, I’ll know what folks are talking about when they reference the Ice Maiden.
  4. Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time, by Mark Adams, 2011.
    • I never got to this one, but because I will not see Machu Picchu, I decided I could read it in the future.
  5. Genesis, first volume in Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy, 1982 in Spain and the translation copyright is 1985 by Cedric Belgrage.
    • A non-traditional book, it is “both a meditation on the clashes between the Old World and the New, and in the author’s words, an attempt to ‘rescue the kidnapped memory of all America’.” (from the back cover) Each entry was less than half a page typically and observational in retrospect. I hunted to find entries on Peru, so gave up quickly, because of time.

Often my preparation for a trip is to 1) read about the place (see the list of books above I checked out to review), 2) become familiar with a map of the city or region, 3) digest some cultural literature, and 4) purchase gifts for hosts and people along the way. I took these steps in preparation for visiting friends in Lima, Peru.

A refresher on the Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell introduced the world to The Hero’s Journey. He discovered similarities of what happened in stories, fables, and fairy tales after years of study. He called these similar steps The Hero’s Journey. There are many ways to explain this layered epic journey; one way is to outline five stages:

  • the call to journey;
  • preparation for the journey;
  • the path and encounter;
  • the return;
  • and finally reflection in telling the tale to others at home.

HERO is meant, not as a male model, but an inclusive, universal archetype.

Archetype = a classic prototype

(Months ago I blogged about The Call (Step #1). My blog went down and I did not follow-up right away.)

Now below, I continue the series on the Hero’s Journey, Part #2 The Preparation.


First step, I bought the ONLY travel book in my local Hastings on Peru. I read all the parts that would apply to my trip and some others of interest to me, so I could discuss these things while there and wouldn’t seem uninformed about their country. Next step, I studied the map of Lima to have a sense of the city before arriving. I tore out pages that referred to the city and packed them.

Third step, I bought a classic Peruvian novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, The Storyteller from our local library’s weekly used book sale. This would be more of a challenge than I thought. I completed the book while in Lima, but found reading a summary prior to tackling the book would have helped. I easily confused the two main characters. Latino literature is full of mysterious, symbolic or fantastical imagery, which further mangled my understanding. But when I learned that Latino writers often had to write in “code” or were shot of truth telling, it made more sense. That lesson alone taught me about the restrictive governments or military powers that long held sway in south American countries.

And the final step, I emailed Patricia with ideas I had thought of for Mariana’s confirmation gift. I asked Patricia, Mariana’s mom, to give me guidance so I could please her. Patricia sent me a picture of a pencil case Mariana wanted (item number and color) and could not get in Lima. It arrived the day before we left. Whew!

I travel with these items and carefully packed clothes for everyday and professional presentation attire that can be combined and worn interchangeably.  Our hosts advised us to bring warm clothes. We underestimated how warm, but would manage by borrowing jackets from Raul and Patricia.

In addition for our volunteer task, Lynn and I prepared a two-hour presentation on “Experiential Learning Beyond the Classroom.”  We selected a few PowerPoint visuals to guide the facilitation with faculty at Raul’s university where he works, Científica Universidad del Sur. We divided up parts according to our experience and knowledge base. We were ready.

We packed lightly for an easy trip from San Antonio to Mexico City to Lima. Though traveling far, we stayed within the same time zone, except the US was on daylight-savings time, making the time difference only one hour.


Now, I have illustrated how I use the the Call and the Preparation steps of the Hero’s Journey to get ready for a trip.

For travelers: Can you relate to either of these passages that ready us for a journey to either see the relatives across town, or a journey around the world to explore another culture? Will you share an example of either or both steps in the Hero’s Journey and how important they were to your travel?

For writers: Can you use the Hero’s Journey to write a memoir of a time in your life? Can you find ways to weave the Hero’s Journey into your fiction stories? How can you make use of the Hero’s Journey to enrich your writing?

LEAVE YOUR ANSWERS BELOW. I can’t wait to hear from you!




Posted in Travel, Travel Writing

Tips for packing light for travel — tried and proven

What makes travel packing easier?

I have found a few things that I can recommend from years of traveling. Recently on a trip from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, girlfriends and I carried backpacks for a three-day trip. That requires paring things down to only the essentials.

The first thing to consider is finding the lightest weight backpack that will hold your belongings adequately. I have one mesh backpack that carries a couple days’ of clothes, a small cosmetic bag, meds, a pair of shoes and my woven fabric purse. The draw-string holds things secure and the flap that buckles will hold my skinny feather pillow rolled (with which I travel everywhere) between the top of the backpack and the flap.

Another thing I have come to utilize in very recent years is the reversible skirt, dress, and/or jacket. I love the warmth of fleece, so I take a fleece jacket anytime I travel. I had several colors, but not one that goes with everything. I found a beige and gray reversible fleece jacket with wonderfully deep pockets on both sides with a zipper (always a plus when traveling). The trim was beige and had some stains that did not come out in the wash. So I took it to my seamstress and had her install black trim that looks good on both sides and will won’t show dirt and grim the way beige does.

I love, love, love white shirts. But they yellow with the use of sunscreen mixed with sweat around the neck and sleeves, so I have given up on white shirts for the most part. I take colored tops that don’t yellow so obviously. I still take one white blouse to wear as an over shirt or a stand-alone top that I wear at night after a shower with no sunscreen.

I learned new tricks from different friends in Mexico this year that can save me money and space in my bags. I left home without my translucent face powder. I doubted my friend, but baby powder works on wonders on my face and I already had it in my bags.

Another friend told me she wears only one pair of earrings when she travels. She brings an exact matching pair, so if she loses one earring, she has a replacement. Because I lose earrings when I travel, I decided this ingenious idea would be a new standard for my travel. When I returned home, I bought double pairs of earrings with my favorite clasp in both silver and gold tones. I’ll be traveling out of state to high school graduation parties in a couple of weeks and will take either the silver or gold, depending on what I take to wear.

My husband learned somewhere along the way to use mineral oil for shaving. He carries a tiny bottle. He needs three drops works for a facial shave. I require six drops for each leg I shave. It take ups little to no space and leaves your skin soft. It beats big shaving cream cans and can be carried through security.

Shoes are the bane of every woman traveling. I wear my athletic shoes with jeans on the plane, because they both take up space and add weight. I pack and get by with a pair of walking sandals or flats, and a pair of slip-on sandals or house shoes for in the room. I rarely dress up when I’m traveling, so this works for me.  You might need another pair, but think hard before you add another pair.

And of course, the age-old-wisdom: take mix and match clothes that layer. Everything must go with everything else you take. I don’t know where I read this or who said it, but one woman wrote that she can travel with three days of clothes for a month. Scarves, belts, and jewelry make this more doable.

Finally, I decided years ago (finally) to have a complete second set of cosmetics and hair dryer and roller to pack. I can then pack my bags and have them in the car the night before we leave. This makes my husband so happy and content, and relieves the stress of last minute packing.

I have not achieved this level of parsimonious packing all the time, but I’m always working toward it. If I cannot carry my luggage myself, I repack until I can.

What are some of your travel packing tips?