Friday, April 22, 2011

Finding Home Comforts When You're Away

48 Days. 6 weeks and 6 days. So soon!! We move even sooner, to house sit for Monty and Nurse B while they head off on safari and conquer Mt Kilimanjaro. Our flatmate moved out last weekend  so his room has become storage for two growing piles - things that are still on Trade Me and everything going to Europe.

Everything we couldn't part with,
waiting for moving day.
It seems absurd to be packing for Europe 6 weeks out from departing, but there is a method to our madness (I should say 'my'). Next weekend, our lounge suite, dining table, bedroom furniture, beanbag and TV cabinet head to my sister's house to fill out their somewhat empty spaces. Our bookcase, gas heater, my desk, the blanket box and all our boxes go into Mum's storage locker. All we will have left is our bed, Courtney's computer and desk, a suitcase to take to Monty's, and a bag to take to Europe. So if I don't pack for Europe now, half of what we need will end up in storage and it will be a mad panic to find everything.

We struck an awesome deal with the Tongan family moving into our house after us. They have only just moved to New Zealand and have very little in way of possessions or money, so they are purchasing our beds from us, and we are giving them our spare towels and sheets. Thank goodness for this arrangement or we'd have no beds for the last week in the house either!

As I scour shops and the ever helpful Trade Me for things like money belts, toilet bags and melamine dinner ware, Courtney assists by piping up 'Why don't we just get it when we get there?' every now and then. Not helpful! He said the same thing about the tent, the same thing about sleeping bags, the same thing about headsets for the bike and shampoo and shaving gel and... everything we have ready to pack. 

I said to him the other day while spending hours trying to get him to decide on dinnerware, that we needed it sorted so we could pack. "Why don't we just get it when we get there?" came the predictable reply, "We won't need it in Ireland". "No", I said, but we'll need it in London!". "Will we?" came back Courtney. We might be staying with friends in Ireland but when we arrive at the hostel in London around midnight , damned if I'll be out shopping for cereal bowls before breakfast the next day! 

His 'n' Hers sleeping bags, mats, toiletries... OCD much?
I'll admit I am organised to the extreme, but it's my way of coping without creature comforts on the road. I've spoken before of needing a tidy house to be able to function - "A cluttered house is a cluttered mind" - and I'm the same with travel. We don't know what our rooms will look like, where to go to buy a loaf of bread, how much we'll pay or where to get gas. In each new location we will need to learn how to connect to wi-fi, where to charge our phones and laptop, where the communal kitchen is and which shops are a rip-off. We will navigate three separate currencies and 27 stops including 1 home stay, 3 festival campgrounds, 1 cabin, 2 hotels, 4 hostels and 16 campsites. When we do have our own space, it will be a nylon room big enough for the two of us to lie in and little else. Amongst all this madness, all I ask is that I know I have the paperwork for the next stop and that when I need a fork or a hair tie or a toothbrush or a bandaid, I know where it is. 

One of the few things I dislike about camping is the act of getting ready each day. I am not a vain person, far from it, but as with most girls I feel my best when my hair is coloured, cut and straightened, my eyebrows are shaped and tinted, my nails are done, my legs are shaved, my skin is clear, my mascara on and my clothes are clean. All of this doesn't bode well with how lazy and cheap I am. I bite my nails (or I did until 4 weeks ago), I colour my hair myself, I get my eyebrows tinted half as often as I should and my darling Long Haired Boy broke my GHDs. So at the best of times I feel less than my full potential. 

When you go camping you then have to shower in the communal cubicles without getting your fresh clothes wet and without letting anything touch the floor. Your wet feet go through your dry jeans unless you can balance jeans and towel and standing on one foot, or you stand on the bench seat. You unpack and repack your toiletries daily, if you dare to straighten your hair you end up being one of 'those girls' hogging the power points and the mirror. No matter what you do, your clothes will always be strewn around the tent and have grass on them.

Courtney's sister offered to let me use her toilet bag but I was very particular about buying new ones, one each for me and Courts. Each one has everything we could possibly need in the divided boys and girls bathrooms, so that I can go into the bathroom and not worry about where my hairbrush is or whether Courtney has the toothpaste or when my hair tie breaks. It seems pedantic to most people and I completely understand it, but for me it's a coping mechanism necessary to enjoying 4 months camping. 

Any other tips or tricks for starting each day feeling fresh and ready instead of damp and camera-shy?