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  • Annie Dupuis

Guatemala 2020 - packing

Updated: Feb 12

I'm leaving for Guatemala in two days and a few hours!!! So what better topic to test my travelogue posting skills with than PACKING

Well, not so much packing, as shopping for things to pack. Every trip, I seem to find some new things to buy to make my travels easier. Easily the best purchase was one I made for my trip to Guatemala and Belize a year ago when I bought my Osprey Farpoint 40L carry-on backpack. There's no universal standard for carry-on size, but this was the backpack that seemed to meet even the most stringent criteria I could find online. Since that first trip, I've also used it to go to Ecuador (3 weeks!), Nova Scotia (had to pack my work laptop), and Barcelona. I also use it to carry my weekly groceries home.

I also bought Gonex compression cubes last year. I don't think the compression (an additional zipper you close after the cube has been filled) adds a whole lot of space, but packing cubes in general are useful for keeping things neat and organized in your bag. Here's the small cube, filled with smaller clothes items and the pile of clothes I packed into the medium cube:

Sashimi is conveniently posing in the picture for perspective.


This is the most stuff I've packed for a trip since I started using the Osprey backpack. Even though I plan on hitting up a few locations in the next 3+ weeks, this trip is different in that my main purpose is to scope out places where I might want to stay for longer periods of time over the winter. Changing places every 3-4 days and going on multiple excursions is all well and good on a short trip but on a longer trip, I'd rather stay put, get some work done, and get to know the locals. The plan is to do some of the things while away that I would normally do while at home: go to the gym, take dance and yoga classes, go out dancing... Where I got by with just my pair of Teva hiking sandals on previous trips, I'm also going to need close-toed shoes for the gym and shoes for the dance floor. I'll be taking salsa classes so I'm bringing sandals with a heel and even though the heel is ever so tiny, I'm not sure I can survive a whole night of dancing in them so I'm also bringing my trusty jazz dance shoes as a backup (they fold and fit in my purse). Four pairs of shoes, that's just nuts!!!!

Not only that, but I'll be spending part of my trip in the Highlands and part of it in the jungle so temperatures can range from 11C to 34C. I found I didn't have enough warm clothes when I went to Ecuador so I don't want to repeat that mistake here.


Luckily, everything fits, even though I could hardly zip up the compression zipper on the medium bag. I may just skip that next time since I seem to have plenty of room left in my bag.

Ceviche joined in for this one. There are three compression cubes in the bag, the two from the previous picture and the extra small size filled with small items.

Because I plan to go out dancing while on this trip, I wanted to find an alternative to using a purse to carry my cash and phone. I asked for suggestions online and got many great ones.

For my phone, I got a pair of Brooks legging shorts that come with two side pockets large enough to hold a phone. They aren't the greatest, but I was short on time for shopping around. The sides have a little hole pattern thing happening with the holes covered with a fabric similar to cheap pantyhose. I stuck my thumb right through one of the holes when I tried the shorts on.

Since I'm only going to be wearing these under dresses and skirts, I don't really care about the hole but I can't recommend them to anyone who plans to wear them on their own.

I also got a wrist wallet, which is something I had never heard of before. When I Googled the term, pages came up with small purses but the wrist wallet that was recommended to me looks like a regular 1970's (!) wristband, but made of a lightweight fabric and has two pockets in it - a zippered one and a non zippered one. Theoretically, you're supposed to be able to put your phone in one of the pockets, and there's a little hole to thread earbud wires through but my wrists are so small a phone would look ridiculous there. Still, very handy for cash and a credit card so I don't have to lug a purse around all the time.

The wristband is on the left. To the right of it are two metal soap containers from Lush. I bought a solid shampoo and a solid conditioner so I could save precious carry-on liquids space for important things like sunscreen and bug spray. I can always buy toothpaste and soap in Guatemala, but if it's anything like Ecuador, I may have to take out a second mortgage to get more sunscreen and bug spray so I prefer to bring as much of my own as I can! I tested the shampoo and conditioner a few days ago and love them. The shampoo is called NEW and has a very strong clove smell. The conditioner is called AMERICAN CREAM and this one has a strong floral scent. I like the way it balances out the scent of clove but someone who is sensitive to scents might find it overpowering. The shampoo lathers up a lot so I don't doubt Lush's claim that it can last 80 shampoos. Most reviews for Lush solid shampoos are very positive, but reviews for the conditioners are mixed. Luckily, I found the conditioner worked very well on my hair. It's exceptionally creamy and my hair was easy to comb afterwards.

OK, so back to my money/card/phone carrying purchases. I kept my favorite one for last. I'd seen online that another option is a circle scarf with a hidden pocket, but when I Iooked at reviews for the ones I found online, they were generally poor. One of the people who replied to my post on a FB swing dance fashion page asking for ideas for carrying stuff when going out dancing, Heather, has her own business making baby clothes (Baby Bee Clothing in Whitby, Ontario) and she offered to make one for me. The scarf exceeded my expectations! I'd asked for grey so it would be versatile and was expecting an ordinary sweatshirt type cotton but instead I got a heavy, silky fabric (like the lightweight Lululemon leggings I'm bringing on the trip) that will probably last forever. It works with both my outfits for warmer weather and my outfits for cooler weather. Call me a fashion Luddite, but I've never owned a circle scarf before so I love the fact that I can wear it as a scarf, a hood, or even over my shoulders if it gets cooler. This piece is going to get plenty of use, both on my trip and once I get back home. Much to my surprise, my phone isn't too heavy to put in the hidden pocket so it gives me an alternative to the legging shorts.

Bonus: it hides my hair on a bad hair day!

Since I no longer need to use my purse to carry money and my phone, I decided to upgrade my small day to day purse to a larger one to take advantage of the flight "personal item" allowance to carry more things. I got a Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body bucket bag. It's slash proof with a cut-proof shoulder strap and has RFID blocking card slots, two features that I don't particularly care about one way or the other. I thought the locking zippers might come in handy (Zach's eReader was stolen out of his backpack when we were in Nicaragua) but they're so easy to unlock I'm not convinced they'll make much of a difference. Still, it's a large bag with two side pockets for water bottles and plenty of interior pockets for keeping things organized. It's mostly empty for the trip over, but has plenty of space for coffee and chocolate for the trip back.

Finally, I bought a travel keyboard. I have mixed feelings about this one - time will tell if it was a good purchase. I want to be able to write emails for work and of course, this travelogue, so my phone keyboard just wouldn't cut it. The travel keyboard is by Logitech and comes with a 2-year battery. That's where the problem lies. I get that recharging is a hassle, but with a long term battery, the keyboard is quite heavy. I'm also not sure the battery can be replaced after it dies, which seems incredibly wasteful. I've been testing the keyboard out to write this post and it's easy to use, although I find the space bar often fails to make a space. Maybe once I get used to the feel of it I'll get better at consistently putting in spaces, but for now I'm glad I'm done this post because I'm tired of hitting backspace to insert a space where one didn't go in.

I'll just wrap up with a few other items I've gotten, both in the past and for this trip. I'm bringing a waterproof phone case for taking pictures underwater - dirt cheap but I used it a lot in Ecuador and it works. I also have a Katadyn BeFree water bottle with Microfilter. I'll be using it with purifying tablets if I can't access filtered water. That probably won't be a problem, but it's good to have a plan B. I have an external battery for my phone, just in case. I got that one for when I go back country camping, since I use the GPS in my phone for way finding. Finally, I have my Kobo eReader which I can use to download library books, anywhere, any time!

That's it! Now to try publishing... let's see if this blog thing works...

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