Posts Tagged stress

Why is Travel so Stressful?

Invariably, Mr. HalfFull and I will end up in a fight before trip. This is our pattern, and we know it.

napping in the park

Mr. HalfFull is an expert chillaxilizer wherever he goes.

HalfFull vs. HalfEmpty Prep

I think this unfortunate routine stems from our HalfFull and HalfEmpty tendencies. I am a planner, who likes to optimize for all contingencies. On the other hand, Mr. HalfFull likes to relax and figure it out as he goes (or not…no biggie).

For me, it’s stressful to think of and strategize for all possibilities. It’s even more taxing when I feel like I am the only responsible party with the entire burden.

I think Mr. HalfFull’s lack of stress makes me doubly stressed. Even though I know it’s not his modus operandi, I try to spur him into action. This exercise in futility further irritates me. Rinse, repeat.

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Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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Filling Ms. HalfEmpty’s Duffel

Packing can be quite stressful (particularly for the HalfEmpty mind), especially when you (1) are not sure exactly what to expect – which I suppose is part of the charm of our 30/40 World Tour, (2) will encounter multiple climates, and (3) are packing for 10 weeks. Here’s what made it into my luggage:

    • electronics (guess this makes us flashpackers)
      Cables & Chargers

      Jumble of cables and chargers for our electronics

      • netbook with charger and protective sleeve
      • digital camera with charger and computer cable
      • external hard drive with charger, computer cable, and protective sleeve (mainly for photo backup)*
      • universal travel adapter
      • iPod and computer charging cable
      • 2 sets of ear buds
      • audio splitter (so we can both listen to the iPod or computer at the same time)
      • thumb drive (to store copies of travel documents in case netbook disappears)
    • paper
      • passport (duh!)
      • paper copy of passport (stored in a different place than the original passport, in case it disappears)
      • leather binder planner (Yes, I still use an analog planner, which comes in handy when I don’t have internet access or electricity! My planner NEVER runs out of batteries.)
      • printed spreadsheet of all flight reservations (This has been invaluable each time we check in and they want to ensure we will not be squatters in the next country.)
      • paper flight ticket (Air Mauritius has not converted to electronic tickets yet)
      • Fijian hotel hut voucher (yep, the outer islands still require paper too)
      • Fijian sailboat cruise voucher
      • Australian bus safari vouchers
      • checkbook registers (stop laughing, yes I’m still analog [Mr. HalfFull shakes his head] and keep track of these things)
      • 3 empty envelopes (for receipts since some countries refund your sales tax at the airport, and since I scrutinize credit card statements)
    • wallet
      • International Student Identification Card (ISIC)
      • driver’s license (for New Zealand car rental)
      • credit cards (called each credit card company to alert them of our travel and learned that my foreign conversion fees range from 0% to 3%)
      • American cash (we’ll get foreign currency from ATMs in each country, but it’s nice to have small bills for tips)
    • clothing for Ms. HalfEmpty
        • shoes

          Two pairs of shoes for 10 weeks, and no heels!

          • hiking shoes with high-arch support insoles
          • convertible sandals with removable heel strap
        • bottoms
          • jeans
          • convertible pants that zip into shorts
          • khaki shorts
        • tops
            • 2 dry-fit t-shirts

          Clothes for hot and cold climates to last 10 weeks!

          • graphic t-shirt
          • dressier short-sleeve shirt with top buttons
          • sexy/fun/flowy shirt with undershirt (to allow me to dress up a bit and minimize my mom’s embarrassment!)
          • 2 long-sleeve dry-fit t-shirts (already came in handy in Fijian tribal village where I was required to cover my elbows and knees)
        • dress (dry-fit material that packs well and somehow looks amazingly dressy)
        • black merino wool scarf/shawl
        • pajamas
        • undergarments
          • 3 pairs of black underwear
          • 3 bras (white racer back, black regular, nude push-up)
          • sports bra
          • technical long-johns
        • socks
          • wool ski socks
          • 3 pairs of athletic ankle socks
          • 1 pair of crew technical socks



        • beachwear
          • athletic bikini (Speedo found for $15 at local Virginia swim shop…score!)
          • halter bikini
          • top half of bikini (packed this by mistake because it was tucked into halter bikini, but the back clasp came in handy for my massage on the beach)
          • quick dry shorts
          • tank top
          • visor
        • outerwear (can roll and secure these to outside of duffel when more space is needed)
          • rain jacket
          • fleece (funny to see this in bottom of bag while sweating in Fiji!)
          • gloves

      Duffel Bag

      Ms. HalfEmpty's packed duffel bag with outwear strapped to the outside

    • luggage
        • duffel bag with backpack straps (exact specs for American overhead compartments; Air Pacific disagreed, forcing me to check it…must admit it was nice not to lug bags around for hours at LAX)
        • day pack (about the size of my 11” netbook; easily fits under airplane seat with netbook, camera, chargers, planner, sunglasses, convertible pant legs, water bottle, hand sanitizer, iPod, ear buds, splitter, flight list, passorts, and snacks)*

          Day Pack

          Mini day pack with orange netbook sleeve tucked inside

        • dry pouch (small waterproof bag comes in handy anytime near water – sailing, pool, dock, rain, etc.)*
        • beach tote (rolls up to about 1×2 inches)*
        • small mesh zippered laundry bag (for storing dirty laundry and holding delicates in washer)
        • small toiletry bag*
        • 1-quart resealable plastic bag (to carry all my 3 oz. or smaller liquids/gels and make TSA happy; interestingly, we did get thanked in the screening line at Dulles airport)



    • toiletries
      • towel in pouch (these super absorbent towels pack tightly and come in a pouch that allows you to separate them from the rest of our gear when wet; can be hooked to the outside of our duffels)
      • sport sunscreen (our 3 oz. aerosol worked extremely well, but feels a bit sticky)
      • insect repellant (applied primarily around ankles, but at the end of the day we had to make peace with our sacrifice to the Fijian insect population…not too bad)
      • toothbrush with cover (Mr. HalfFull doesn’t believe in covers)
      • toothpaste
      • floss
      • disposable razors
      • shaving cream
      • deodorant (I wanted to pack my current deodorant, but Mr. HalfFull insisted that we have a new completely full one if it was going to take up all that space; so we went to the drug store at 9 PM the night before our flight)
      • solid shampoo bar (doesn’t count as a liquid…score!)*
      • hair moisturizer in flat packets (packets are super slim and helped with TSA liquid/gel requirements)*
      • leave-in conditioner in flat packets*
      • hair gel (transferred my normal gel into a 3 oz. travel bottle)
      • SPF 15 face lotion (transferred into 3 oz. travel bottle)
      • body lotion in flat packet
      • body butter
      • hand lotion in flat packets*
      • shower mousse (not critical, but was a new small container and will produce a nice lather without a washcloth or loofah)
      • face cleanser (super tiny containers)*
      • face exfoliant (another tiny container)*
      • blemish cream (why do we still get zits at 30 and 40-years-old???)
      • cotton swabs
      • feminine products
      • nail clippers
      • tweezers
      • 3 small binder clips (to seal open flat packets)
    • makeup
      • flat makeup samples: eyeshadow, lipstick, blush
      • mascara
      • eyelash curler
      • under eye concealer
      • perfume (in tiny sample tube)
    • hair accessories
      • 4 hair ties, 5 bobby pins, 2 hair clips (I opted to grow my hair for this trip since I’m sure I’ll need to throw it up often)
      • headband
    • medical
      • aspirin
      • anti-diarrhea pills*
      • small adhesive bandages
      • triple antibiotic ointment
    • other
      • sunglasses
      • snacks*
      • water bottle
      • laundry detergent (I wanted to use liquid detergent, but we ran out of space in the 1-quart bags, so we filled travel bottles with powder detergent and labeled them to avoid questions)
      • hand sanitizer
      • moist towelettes
      • headlamp (electricity shuts off at 10 PM on Likuri Island)*
      • S-biners (to clip items to the outside of our bags, like towels and dirty laundry)
      • metal cage and lock (cage expands to enclose entire duffel bag and can be secured to a permanent fixture)*


* Thanks to Rita & James, Mona, Patrick & Lisa, Susan, Maha, Miranda, and my mom for graciously providing items to outfit our trip!

You may be wondering why there are no books on the packing list.  I tried to pack the book I was currently reading, but Mr. HalfFull removed it, concluding that it was not worth the weight.  I still wish I had my physical book, but we do have audiobooks on the iPod.

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull with luggage

Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull loaded up and ready to go!

It seemed like we packed minimally until I saw it enumerated in list form! But it did all fit in my carry-on duffel and mini day pack. I am a bit relieved that there will be no major clothing decisions this summer (South Pacific winter); I only have a limited number of combinations to cycle through. However, my mother is mortified by my lack of clothing. She doesn’t want us to look like hobos wearing the same outfit, especially in Spain where she says people love to dress up and be seen. But one of our packing lists advises, “Take half of what you think you need and twice as much money.” That’s sage advice! We won’t be stranded in the jungle all the time (even though it felt like it for the first few days), and can probably find whatever we may need on the road.

My mom drove us to the airport and sent us off with a bag of goodies. She found some delicious travel-size snacks (raisins, Larabars, and chocolate squares…lesson learned: don’t leave chocolate in mini day pack while napping in the warm California sun) and enclosed a note:

Dear Ms. HalfEmpty & Mr. HalfFull,

We wish you a great journey around the world, discovering the beauty in nature, cultures, and human behavior; cities and beaches, mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, forests and deserts, and most of all yourselves and your inner souls. We will be following your blog and learning with you. This is an exciting time. We hope that you can cherish the little and big things. The journey is as important as each unique destination.

We will be thinking of you, praying that you are safe, connecting with the known and unknown, as you describe in your heroine journey.

Leave behind “the half” of everything. Lean on each other and enjoy the goodness of your togetherness. This adventure is a great opportunity. Have fun!

Mom & Dad

What an awesome farewell message! I’m not sure about leaving behind behind my half empty tendencies though. After all, who would write this blog???

  • Do you find packing stressful?
  • Did I pack too much? Too little? Just right?
  • Is fashion an important part of travel?
  • What travel item(s) do you have a hard time justifying? (for example: a stuffed animal)
  • Do you use toothbrush covers?
  • Are physical books worth their weight?
  • How do you feel about the TSA liquid/gel limits?
  • What advice would you give to someone embarking on a long quest?






Ms. HalfEmpty is a 30-something introverted realist, perhaps a pessimist. But she’s trying to see the world half full on, which she started in February 2011. Her worldview may not be all bad, as it probably helps keep her husband, Mr. HalfFull, grounded and out of trouble!

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