Here we are again. Butterflies, open pack, stuff everywhere, and me ticking off points on my checklist. Tomorrow I am on my way and what I haven’t got, I’ll either have to get or go without.
Of course I have a packing list, but have you ever tried to actually follow one of those things?? All the cleverly and sensibly vetted items suddenly seem dull, or not versatile enough, or have inexplicably shrunk over Christmas. The old merino layer has fallen out of favour, and my new one is in a different colour so obviously I need to find that other Buff that matches it better. Or the replacement gadget doesn’t fit in the little pocket where the old one went, so the whole pack needs a last minute rethink. (No? Just me, then.)
1: Top of my last minute checklist is the one variable you can’t check until close to departure: the weather. We have been glued to the long term forecast on Norwegian weather service Yr for over a week now and it’s going rather well …
Today we finally went through our packs and happily removed the wind and waterproof mitts, rain ponchos and goretex gaiters, replacing them with merino gloves, pack covers and in my case a lightweight pair of Dirty Girl gaiters to keep debris out of my shoes (and add a splash of colour, I’ll admit). The Scouse Spouse decided – somewhat recklessly, in my opinion – to leave the merino fleece at home and take the normal fleece, but kept the down jacket for evening chills. I am still dithering between taking two or three sets of legwear, but my pack is so light I might just take the new walking trousers as well and – somewhat recklessly, according to the Scouse Spouse – try them out for the first time on the trail, since I have backup. Oh and I’m going for non-waterproof shoes, yay!
2: Next job is to check for sneaky stowaway liquids. I have gone through our first aid kit, toiletries bag and sundries pouch in search of eye drop ampulles, iodine cream tubes, wayward Vaseline tins and even fish oil capsules, and herded them all into a clear plastic bag. Getting stopped at security is not an option.
3: Paperwork. I have double and triple checked that I have our passports, credencials, EHICs, travel insurance documents – don’t leave home without it! – a print-out of our itinerary and our ALSA tickets. And the guidebook, obviously!
Plus we are both taking debit and credit cards, the leftover euros from last time, and we have both weeded out all the other cards and receipts that fill up our little wallets. If your little travel purse doesn’t have RFID protection from credit card skimmer scammers, please consider getting one, or at least get some thin sleeves for your cards. My card was skimmed at the airport once, even though I didn’t use a cashpoint. Be careful!
4: Digital housekeeping. I have moved AlertCops app back to my mobile’s main screen and activated it, I have downloaded the Google Translate app and the offline Spanish language pack.
Both the Scouse Spouse and I have set our mobile lock screens to a photo of ourselves, with the other’s phone number visible on the screen. If anyone finds/nicks the mobile and tries to turn it on, they will see our happy faces and a phone number, and if this anyone is a fellow pilgrim they might recognise us and get it back to us. Either way we can identify ourselves when picking it up: ‘See, it’s mine – that’s my face right there.’ Both our lock screens also have the option to call emergency services if something bad God forbid should have happened. Other than that, the phone is locked to naughty people. (Always lock your phone!)
And I have put in advance passenger info for every leg of the journey while at home, in case the mobile dies/goes away/cracks up and won’t remember my password/details etc. I have already checked in where I can and downloaded the boarding passes, to avoid problems at the airport. I have checked on the tracked shipment of my Pacerpoles, which have arrived in Astorga and will be waiting for me at the hotel.
5: Finally there are the things we can’t really pack until we are ready to tie our shoes and clip on our packs – our Birkenstock sandals, which we use at home too; the idea is that if we are going out after walkies, we’ll need to put shoes back on anyway, so might as well keep the secondary shoes light as possible. Toothbrushes – never go on holiday with brand new ones, they can be bristly! Chargers and cables, the Scouse Spouse’s shaver, and our water bottles which we also use at home. If we can remember all those things, and also set the heating on timer, all that’s left is giving the plants a glug of water and make sure we really did lock the door.
And not miss the train.