Tag Archives: packing

Road Trip: North Carolina to Austin, TX to Oaxaca, Mexico

Destination Austin, Texas.  I’m packing up La Tuga (short for La Tortuga or turtle in Spanish), the 2004 Honda Element EX manual transmission I just bought that will be the car I drive in Mexico.  Well, I’m not exactly packing yet. I’m thinking about it.  In three days, on December 12, 2013, I will set out to begin the 1,306 mile, almost 22-hour road trip from North Carolina’s Piedmont to south-central Texas, about half-way across the country.  Mapquest tells me I will spend a little over $700 in gasoline and at least $49 a night in lodging.  Food doesn’t calculate, I guess.

Do you have any suggestions for the route?  I’m planning I-85 South past Atlanta, then connecting to I-20 West, through Vicksburg and Shreveport, to Waco, then dropping down to north Austin, where I’ll be staying for a few nights with my cousin Norm, who left his hometown of Chicago years ago, but is loyal still to the Cubs.  Then, flying off to Oaxaca.

I’m making a list of what I need to take that I can’t fit in a suitcase.

Anyone have an older model, small bowl Cuisinart food processor in good working condition you’d like to sell and get to me be Wednesday this week?  This might come in handy in Oaxaca, I think, for making salsa and chopping lots of onions!  Or, if I decide to make a fresh fruit tart and need to whip up a crust, I have a proven Cuisinart crust recipe.

The list also includes:

  • wood chopping block
  • printer and printer cartridges
  • sheets and towels (100% cotton)
  • candied ginger
  • 6 lbs. undyed merino wool roving for felting
  • knitting supplies, especially wood needles
  • good used clothing and shoes to distribute
  • spackle to repair wall holes where I’ve drilled by mistake
  • a few more good books

I can’t think of anything else, can you?

I’m living more simply there.  No television!  No CD player!  I do have a basic kitchen with a good set of knives, blender, plates, utensils, Master Chef cookware, cloth napkins and dishtowels from Camino de los Altos, and Studio Xaquixe recycled drinking glasses!  Never mind that the kitchen sink water drains into a large paint bucket that I carry outside each time it fills up so I don’t waste water and have enough to give to thirsty trees and flowers.  Jajajajaja.

In Austin, I turn the car over to my agent, Justo, who will drive it the rest of the way to Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico.  But, first, we will buy Mexican insurance in Austin, then he will legalize the car for Mexico.  In fact, that process has already begun.

Admittedly, making this road trip on my own is both exciting and somewhat daunting — a new experience for me — although I fly everywhere independently.  I’m open to sharing the driver’s seat with the right person, if anyone dares go with me.  I would need to know you or have a great recommendation.

Stay tuned for the next installment.  Of course, I won’t have commentary on the Austin to Oaxaca leg.  I’ll be at the other end waiting for delivery.



Morocco Journal 1: What To Wear and Other Notes

The debate about how a woman from the western world is to clothe herself while traveling in the Moslem Kingdom of Morocco continues.  I want to be respectful and also comfortable as the temperatures hover close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cover your elbows, advises one friend.  Another says, elbows are okay, just don’t show forearms or cleavage.  Another tells me to wear a long skirt or dress and cover your ankles.  Don’t worry, ankles are okay, says one more, it’s not Saudi Arabia, you just don’t want to wear short shorts.  At my stage of maturity, that would not be my thing.  Today, I am in the serious pre-packing thinking stage of open suitcase and clothes on the bed.

Jude looks at argan soap

Jude looks at argan soap

Sunday, September 15 is departure day.  I am traveling with my friend Judith Reitman-Texier who has been to Morocco many times for her company La Bedouine argan oil skin care and lifestyle.  Her wise counsel is priceless and her planning even more so.  Jude, also a published journalist, invited me to come with her as she writes reviews of 5-star Marrakech riads for travel magazines and sources product for her business.  My role is to photograph and document all.  Of course, the textiles are what draws me there!


Morocco Packing Notes

  • wide-brimmed hat
  • sunscreen
  • no open-toe shoes
  • long linen dress
  • shawls that can drape and wrap to cover
  • 2 long linen skirts
  • 1 pair loose linen pants
  • loose linen tops (3-4)
  • long sleeve linen top
  • 3-4 changes of underwear
  • sleep shirt
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • closed toe dress shoes

The list sounds like what I recommend for Oaxaca, except the arm-leg cover-up part.  Always, no short shorts!

Plus these essentials:

  • Contact your bank to let them know travel plans so they don’t block ATM money withdrawal.
  • Contact your wireless mobile service if you want data, text and voice coverage while traveling.
  • Important Note:  Especially for a woman, it is essential to carry a cell phone wherever you are that connects you to home in an emergency.  Don’t skimp.  It is part of travel safety and security.

And comments from friends on my Facebook page keep coming in, like this one:

Covered up but cool because it sure was hot when I was there. And although they do not drink they serve local beer to the tourist – just do not try to take the lovely bottle as I did. The waiter went nuts and thought I was stealing (which could have cost me a hand) but the owner graciously insisted I keep the bottle after my husband came to my rescue. On the street my husband was offered two camels for me.


Vacation Packing Tip: Improvised Sturdy Basket Becomes Luggage Shipping Container

Packing Tip See the handwoven bamboo basket laying on its side on the left side of my suitcase?  It cost about four dollars ($4 USD). I used it to transport three bottles of great mezcal and a blown glass Xaquixe decanter from Oaxaca to the USA.  It traveled by bus and then plane.  Of course, I wrapped everything in plastic bubble first, tucking everything in so nothing wiggled.  Then, I put the bamboo tray over the opening and sealed my improvised shipping container well with duct tape.

I’ve used larger, rounder containers like this to pack fragile ceramics and wood carvings from Oaxaca with 99% success.  Meaning, everything arrives whole and unbroken!  It’s essential to have an equally sturdy lid.

Shipping costs are so high, that if you can do-it-yourself, so much the better.

To the right of the basket you will see clear plastic zipper bags.  I’ve saved them when I buy new sheets and pillows.  These are fantastic, because one bag will contain my clothes, another my underwear and socks.  I can see everything I need at a glance without having to rummage around.  Bonus:  if your luggage gets inspected at the airport, you know that everything will stay clean!

Feliz Viaje!

P.S.  Buy these baskets at any market in Oaxaca.  I got mine in Tlacolula and plan to carry it to Morocco.  I always pack a roll of duct tape, a bit of bubble wrap and clear shipping tape.  Comes in handy and doesn’t weigh much!

Travel Luggage: Weight Counts or Ode to An Aging Suitcase

Struggling to pack and getting under the 50-pound weight limit is a challenge for me. Why, you might ask?  She is is supposed to be practicing the meditation of “traveling light.”  I haul back and forth to/from Mexico a six-plus pound projector, a weighty camera lens, usually a tripod, paperwork, a couple of pairs of shoes.  I think my make-up and sundries bag weighs eight pounds.  This is all packed within a woven bamboo basket with sturdy sides that I use for added protection.  This requires an elephant-size suitcase.   After almost 20 years of trusty service (bought it in 1993 for a trip to China), my 21-pound TravelPro suitcase is about to be retired because with that inherent weight, this leaves me little more than a few pounds of clothing to add.  

It wasn’t THAT long ago that international travelers had a 70-pound weight limit.  No more as airlines try to squeeze every dollar out of the travel experience which has become a nightmare unless you are a top-level member of some affinity program. The Huffington Post just announced that United Airlines has raised the fee for a second piece of baggage on international flights to $100 and did away with the online discount.  I can’t imagine what they will think of next.

Despite the broken handle, this trusty friend has been to Thailand, Australia, France, Italy, Panama, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, the Caribbean, Malaysia, Singapore and back, plus frequent family visits to California.  It has been my shipping container for many treasures, including Federico Chavez Sosa‘s glorious rugs which are not of insignificant weight.




So, I began my quest for a replacement, found the site LuggagetoGo.com and ordered a TravelPro replacement with the latest lighter weight technology, only to hear the next day from Don that it was backordered and was not available to ship.  I asked Don, who  was immediately responsive, if there was a comparable.  Yes, he said, Delsey will ship from Maryland on Monday afternoon and you’ll get the luggage (weighing in at 12.6 lbs.) on Tuesday.  Perfect.  In time to pack on Wednesday and leave for Mexico early Thursday morning.  The bonus was that the online price of the luggage was $169.99, a big discount from the $400 retail price and shipping was included.  I had such a great, personal, customer service online shopping experience with this site that I want to recommend it.  I’m happy.

So, I’m hoping for no glitches.  The bonus is that with a really big suitcase, I’m hoping to get everything I need into it to avoid the second bag fee!  Yes, I can do it.