4,882 cubic inches

If you had to put your life in a backpack for one year, what would you take?

  • Extra underwear, or another pair of socks?
  • More shirts, an extra skirt, or a pair of jeans?

These are the sort of dilemmas that I’m facing. Because I’m finding that you can’t take it all.

People have said that the hardest thing about preparing for the World Race is packing, and that’s what I’m running into.


                                         To turn this:                                                                   Into this:      






It’s going to take a miracle to get everything in there. But Jesus is in the business of miracles. He turned water into wine, so me stuffing the contents of my room into my backpack shouldn’t be so bad, right?

They gave us a packing list, but the printed packing list is five pages long, which is actually taller than my backpack itself. According to REI, my pack can hold 4,882 cubic inches, but those inches go fast once you get your tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad in there. Basically, with the remaining room, I’ve just been able to fit in a few outfits – skirts, shirts, pants, flip flops, tennis shoes, and a few athletic clothes for running. Then there’s the 8 1/2 months of malaria-preventing pills, shampoo and other toiletries, a few months worth of feminine products (did you know they don’t sell tampons in Africa!?!), a clothesline for washing clothes and a whole lot of hand sanitizer. And a swimsuit, of course. Finally, in my daypack – my passport, camera, bible, journal, netbook and waterbottle.

That’s it. That’s all I have room for. Just fourty-four stinkin’ pounds.

It’s like Tetris meets The Biggest Loser – a real-life jigsaw puzzle, combined with making weight. Yet I’m confident that the past two years bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s has given me the skills that I need to fit everything in my pack in classic Tetris-style.

It’s been fun going through my room and getting rid of things. While some people are packrats and can’t bear to part with anything they own, I find that I’m the opposite – the more I give away, the lighter I feel. I don’t feel a tinge of regret donating that random sweater I never wear or those shoes that don’t go with anything. In getting rid of things, I find that life seems simpler. Lighter. Easier. It’s empowering for me to know how little I need to sustain my existence. But can I get everything I need inside one backpack?

I heard that a popular item for Racers to bring is a hammock for down time. My dad gave me his old rope hammock that he used to backpack with. I ended up taking that instead of a roll of toilet paper :-)

Watch out, world! Here I come…


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