Would you take something else if you could?

So asked Kaleisha. She’s packing for India, she doesn’t have to worry about weight, she is packing multiple everything. In fact, she will probably take more than the four little kids and me together, but then we’ll be carrying about 20kg between the lot of us, so it’s not like she’s being particularly excessive!


I am surprised how often we’ve been asked about gear, so here goes, the itty-bitty details.

We will all *wear* one set of clothes (are you breathing a sigh of relief?): underwear, socks, pants, long-sleeved shirt, hiking shoes.
We will all *carry* one other set of clothes. One set for walking, keep the other for after-walking (then it doesn’t need washing so often, and there’s not too much point washing the walking set coz it’ll just get dirty tomorrow…..eeeew gross, yep, but it’s how to keep your weight down! And when you’re handwashing every day, suddenly it only seems really important for socks and undies to be done – and actually for some of the boys, even that much was not important when we went last time). Knock-off crocs are our choice of “second” shoes as they can be worn in the shower, are very light, will accommodate swollen feet and can be worn with socks (all things which we discovered on our last walk were important considerations)
We’ll also take a bonus spare pair of undies and socks (actually, in the sock department, we wear a pair of coolmax liners and a woolen pair on top when walking)
Plus thermal underwear, fleece jacket, rainwear, scarf, gloves, sunhat. That’s it, clotheswise.

Sleeping: sleeping bag and silk liner (and use the scarf as a pillowcase)
Kitchen: plastic bowl and spork each, muslin cloth, zip lock bags for packing snacks in and I want to buy an original Opinel knife in France for cutting our cheese and salami
Laundry: universal plug, line with safety pins attached, half a bar of Sunlight soap
Toiletries: think “bare basics” and a piece of muslin to use as a towel (total weight for all of us under 400 grams)
Medical: lavender/teatree oil mix, prednisone, ventolin (which I usually don’t need out of Auckland but would rather take it and not need it), muscle cream, ibuprofen, everything balm, plasters, tweezers, knee braces, walking poles
Records: passports, credencials, finance notebook (we record everything we spend), money, cards, journals, pens/pencils/sharpener/watercolours/eraser/glue stick, camera, phone, mini-keyboard, maps
Electrical extras: phone charger and adapter, battery charger and adapter (no, they don’t use the same one), camera cable, SD cards, spare camera battery, spare keyboard batteries
Maybe: pack of cards

Plus consumables: kids each have a water bottle, I have a hydration bladder. Additionally, I carry an emergency ration of dehydrated curry. Just In Case. We all take some snacks. We’ll try to buy food as close to the place we’re going to consume it – favourite location will be supermercado in the town where we are staying and AFTER we have already dropped our backpacks at an albergue…..second favourite will be a town under 10km from the final location for the night so we don’t have to carry the extra weight too far.

Would I want to take anything else?
At first I answered with an emphatic NO. I like the simplicity. Besides, that phone which I didn’t want to take initially has turned out to be a wonderful wee piece of equipment – it carries address book and maps and dictionaries and books (oh so many books, both ones to read and audio ones to listen to), camera, blogging facility, Viber app for free texting, weather forecasts etc etc etc
I thought maybe it would be nice to drag along a couple of kilos of wool and my favourite crochet hook, but actually I’m happy to have a break from that creative outlet and to spend my time trying a bit of sketching and photography instead.
So there was really nothing else I would take. Until I sat down with my enormous large print study Bible, which I never contemplated taking for even half a second. Yes, I have two Bible apps on my phone and another one that reads the Bible to me in Spanish if I want it to, but if somehow my big heavy Bible and assortment of coloured pens and pencils could miraculously appear on my bunk each evening, my pilgrimage would be perfect. So there *is* one thing I’d take, but at the same time I am in no way upset at leaving it behind.
A significant part of the attraction of pilgrimage for me is the paring back to essentials; it is in no way a hardship. I do not feel the absence of what I don’t have, but rather than provision of all I need. And even with a pretty simple packing list, I am still aware that I will carry far more than many people ever get to own in their lifetime. There are still many non-essential items on my list. I give thanks for them and wish for nothing.



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