the wonderful world of veena.

28 November 2014

veen on the road: the stuff i took.

Now that we've covered all the things I ate, the places I saw, and the books I read and listened to, how about all the stuff I took with me? Sure, why not. [note: this is my final road trip post, so we can all move on now!]

Here's what my trunk looked like when I left Memphis:

[5 weeks of my life, all packed up and ready to hit the road]
Since it was a road trip, I didn't need to worry about over-packing or baggage limits or anything like that, which was nice. I tried not to take too much stuff, but I gave myself some allowances, particularly when it came to shoes.

So let's get to it.

The Gear:

the rucksack. I have had this rucksack for 4 years, and I love it. It's survived living in India as well as excursions to London and Nepal with me, and it shows no signs of slowing down. I love that it has both front- and top-loading capabilities, so I can always easily access my stuff, and I like the numerous pockets and nooks where I can store things. Because I bought it at a place that had an Osprey oven, I was able to get the hip belt molded to my frame, so it sits perfectly on my hips.

the backpack. Last year I wrote about how my father pretty much bribed me into getting a new backpack and retiring my old LL Bean buddy. My ultimate choice was a North Face Surge II backpack, and I have really liked it. It's got a laptop compartment and padded shoulder straps, so it sits really comfortably with my computer, and I love all the tiny pockets and hidden compartments. There's a spot for pretty much everything, and it has been great both as a laptop bag and as a day pack to wander around with. [note: mine is yellow, but it doesn't seem to be available on Amazon, so the link is to my other favourite colour and possibly the one I would have chosen had it been in stock when I purchased mine]

the purse. I ordered this crossbody purse last December as an early Christmas present for myself and have loved it. I needed a nicer bag that I could also use everyday, and because I tend to sling my bags around, I needed one with a zipper so that I don't lose anything. This one gets extra points for being big enough to fit a book and for having an inner zip closure as well as two small pockets inside, perfect for my keys and my phone. And that's not including another zip pocket on the outside as well as an open pocket on the opposite side. It's held up well with everything I've thrown its way, and it looks like it will be around for a little while longer. I'm thinking of getting a more casual one so that I can trade them out from time-to-time and have put this one on my Wish List; I like the bohemian look of it, but I'm having trouble deciding on which pattern I prefer. [note: I ordered the second one, and I already love it. it's very similar to the one I already had but is much more casual]

the all-purpose tote. This was an impulse buy last year when we were going to India, and I couldn't help myself. I'm such a sucker for tote bags that can then be folded up, and this was no exception, and it has turned out to be even more useful than I anticipated. I use it for overnight or weekend road trips, and it was a great carry-all for this trip. I loaded pretty much all of my extra things into it: toiletries, extra books, extra chargers and batteries, running paraphernalia, first aid name it, it probably ended up in here at some point. It's huge, it can hold a surprising amount of stuff, and it's pretty comfortable to carry. I have loved it, and my mother has even used it for a few trips herself, so it comes highly recommended from the Rangaswami household.

the everyday tote. I bought this on a whim from Old Navy in early summer thinking it would be a good beach bag / everyday bag for my trip. My main train of thought was that it would be good for Britney's bachelorette weekend at the beach and for day trips when I wanted to carry my big camera with me. It served me well for both occasions and is still in great condition. It's got nice strong straps, which earns it an automatic two-thumbs up from me.

The Clothes:
[note: sure, I took too many clothes. if you're pressed for space or weight, you could definitely take out a few everyday t-shirts, one or two of the singlets, and possibly even a pair of jeans. to each his - or her - own]

the everyday t-shirts / sleeveless tops. If memory serves correctly, I think I took around 7 cotton v-necks, 2 or 3 cotton crew necks, and 3 sleeveless shirts. I could have taken fewer, but they don't take up much space and it was nice to have the extras when I had to stretch between laundry days.

the tank tops. one navy, one blue, one tan. they don't take up space in your luggage, and they go with everything.

the nice shirts. I took one nice sleeveless shirt, one nice short-sleeve shirt, and two nice tunics, and that was pretty much enough for the purposes of my trip.

the shorts. one denim, one black, one green, and one pair of denim bermudas. it was nice to have the variety depending on the weather and what I was doing on a given day.

the jeans. two pairs, one denim and one black. more than enough, especially since it was summer.

the cardigan. this has become my go-to cardigan, and I have gotten so much wear out of it. it's super comfortable, and it's warm without being hot, so it's perfect for the summer when it's hot outside but often chilly in restaurants or museums. and the teal colour goes with most of my wardrobe.

the skirts. one denim mini and one knee-length jersey material. they went with everything I packed and were great alternatives if I didn't feel like wearing shorts but it was too hot to wear jeans.

the rain jacket. I love that it can be a shell during the warmer months but can zip a fleece in during winter. it came in very handy during some of the super rainy days I encountered.

the running capris. I took my two most comfortable pairs, and that was more than enough.

the running singlets. I took 3 or 4, and I picked up 2 at the Nike outlet store in Charlotte. too many considering how many times I actually ran, but I'm glad I had them with me.

the workout shorts. two pair. they were great for workouts and for just bumming around in.

the t-shirts. 4 short-sleeves and 1 long-sleeve. I mostly used them to sleep in, but it was nice to have some extras just in case. and the long-sleeve came in handy for my drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and for my stay in Kilmarnock when we were on the water and evenings were chilly.

the boxers. 3 pairs for sleeping.

the socks. 4 pair of running / workout socks -- I like the ones with a little extra padding, since they add some cushion for my hopelessly flat feet.

the swimsuit + cover-up. I knew I would have at least 2 opportunities for swimming, one during Britney's bachelorette weekend and one at Pete's birthday party, but since they were far enough apart, I only took one swimsuit with me, which was plenty. I picked up a cover-up from Target the week before I left for about $10, and it served me well.

the underwear / bras / sports bras. pretty self-explanatory. I took a lot of underwear so that I wouldn't need to scramble to do laundry [I did laundry 3 times in the 5 weeks: once at Stu and Carrie's in Greensboro, once at Dada and Baa's in Charlotte, and once at Ken and Ellen's in Chattanooga; I was only desperate going into Chattanooga, but otherwise I was fine].

the anarkali + bridesmaid dress. these were taken specifically for the wedding weekend, so they stayed in the car the entire time except for my time in Chattanooga and when I got to Leicester for the wedding. since they both hung in the backseat, they were not an intrusion.

The Shoes:
[note: I know I took far too many shoes, but the last two in the list were pretty much strictly because of the wedding; if not for that, I would have left them both at home. the hiking shoes were also unnecessary; if I had it to do over again, I would take my Chacos instead, since they're much more versatile]

the toms. these are probably my most-worn shoes, and one of my all-time favourites. they're so comfortable, especially for long walks or strolls, and they go with pretty much anything. I've worn one pair down to the bone and have another two that I alternate between. and I love the one-for-one model.

the running shoes. when I was in the market for new running shoes back in April, I went to Breakaway, our local running store, and got the guys there to suggest a shoe for me. because of the flat feet, I need shoes that have extra support and a low arch, and these have been great. I just got new insoles for them, and I feel like I have a brand new pair of shoes!

the birkenstocks. the best buy of the summer. I've had a pair of Birkenstock clogs for 16 years, and although they're worn down, I still wear them every now and then during the winter. at the beginning of the summer, though, I decided it might be time for a new pair, particularly a pair of comfy sandals that would be good for long days of walking [I know I harp on my flat feet a lot, but they hurt when I'm on them for a long time]. These came in so handy on my trip, and I wore them nearly every day on my excursions. They're so comfortable, they've got great support, and even after they're broken in they don't look worn-down. And since they're blue, they match nearly everything I own.

the flip flops. I'll be honest, these weren't my favourite ever pair of flip flops, and I didn't wear them too much, but they're really not that bad. they were fine for short amounts of time, but if I wore them for too long they would start to hurt my heels [that's flat feet for you].

the other flip flops. perfect for the beach, or for padding around a home with cold floors. so versatile, and so comfortable.

the flats. these are my basic black flats that I wear through every winter and then replace in the spring. they're really comfortable, and they don't pinch my feet, so I like them a lot. I'll be honest, though: I only wore them once or twice on my trip, but that was mostly because I didn't really go out for nice dinners or things where I couldn't wear sandals.

the hiking shoes. an unnecessary addition. the only time I wore them was on my drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway, and even then I really would have been fine with just my running shoes. if I had it to do all over again, I would have switched these out for my Chacos, as those would have been good for my daily activities as well.

the rain boots. I chose to throw these in the trunk since I was driving, and I'm so glad I did. even though I probably only wore them 3 times, they were definitely worth carrying, especially when the monsoon followed me to Charlottesville and Monticello. I bought these when I was living in Little Rock, and they have proved to be a great purchase; I like that they're not standard wellies and could be worn as part of my "business casual" dress code in grad school. [note: mine are a slightly different design than those in the link, but they're the same brand and quite similar]

the nice sandals. again, only worn twice, but they were necessary to go with the Anarkali for Britney and Brandon's rehearsal dinner. and then I promptly forgot them at the Yesterday Spaces farmhouse, so they are now living in Knoxville until I can reclaim them. but they came in handy.

the wedges. only taken to be worn for the wedding and remained in my trunk for most of the journey.

The Tech:

the laptop. because I was still doing work for The Wandering Samaritan for the first few weeks of my trip, I needed the computer. and it was great for responding to emails, booking various things, and watching Netflix.

the kindle. so that I could carry as many books as I wanted with me.

the camera. to take pretty pictures along my journey.

the other camera [a sony cybershot from 2009]. because sometimes that giant camera can be a hindrance, and this one fits easily into a handbag or even sometimes a pocket.

the phone. for obvious reasons: phone calls, messages, Google Maps, pictures, and playing Bingo.

the chargers / batteries.

The Toiletries:
[note: I feel like these are pretty self-explanatory, so I won't go into details. just thought I'd list them out]

the body wash.
the shampoo + conditioner.
the razor.
the deodorant / body glide.
the toothbrush / toothpaste / floss / mouthwash.
the q-tips.

The First-Aid Kit:
I am generally a little accident-prone anyway, but it's also always a good idea to travel with a few key first-aid items in case anything happens along the way. Luckily I didn't need anything more than this during my trip, but you can add or take away items as you deem fit.

the band-aids. these are my favourites because they are waterproof and because they come in Batman and Strawberry Shortcake patterns.

the eye drops. because my eyes don't produce enough tears and so become super dry and bloodshot if I don't get enough sleep or have been driving for too long.

the painkillers. Aleve for cramps and Advil for general aches and pains.

The Running Gear:
I enjoy running, but all the accoutrements that come along with it are kind of crazy.

the armband. I am not one to carry my phone when I run, and I like this armband a lot because my phone fits in with its case on. I also like the velcro strap, so I can adjust it based on how many layers I'm wearing.

the earbuds. I lost my previous pair of running earphones, so I made do with my Apple earbuds. I like them for the volume control, but I dislike them because they fall out of my ears a lot. I have since gotten a new pair, but I'm not entirely pleased with them, either. If anyone out there has suggestions, I'm all ears.

the body glide. Katie Walsh introduced me to this last year when I was training for my first half marathon, and I have not looked back. it really helps prevent chafing, and I am still using the one I bought in August of 2013, so it's well worth it.

The Books:
I carried three paper books with me - On the Road, which I didn't even open, This is Where I Leave You, which I did, and Americanah, which I began at the end of my journey - and then read the rest on my Kindle or listened to them on my Audible app while driving.

The Gifts:
As a thank you for all of my various hosts, I carried with me bags of "Memphis Mix" popcorn from Sweet Noshings. I knew all the Rhodents would especially appreciate it, and I knew it would be a good gift for airbnb hosts as well. It really didn't take up much space, it made the car smell like popcorn for a month, and because I bought 10 bags, I got one more bag for free. Love me some Sweet Noshings.

And there you have it, everything I carried with me on my summer road trip.

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