the 'how' of the greyhound discovery pass

ok folks, this is the second of three posts on the Greyhound Discovery Pass.  if you want to know why we chose Greyhound, see my previous post.  I wanted to share a list of what we packed and some of the techniques we used to make 2 months on the road fun and comfortable.  some of these things hopefully are helpful and apply to you.  some won't.

what I packed:
- 4 shirts (3 long sleeve, 1 short)
- 2 pairs of pants
- web belt
- 1 pair of socks
- Vibram five finger shoes
- Toms slippers
- bandana
- dress tie (for formal occasions.  one of my shirts was a semi-casual dress shirt)
- underwear (including undershirts)
- swim shorts
- rain jacket

- passport
- wallet with ID, cash card, etc
- photocopy of Sam's passport/ID
- Greyhound Discovery Pass
- check book (we had to send rent checks to our landlady while on the road)
- deposit envelopes

- sketchbook
- watercolor set
- 3 pens, 2 pencils, eraser
- ipod touch
- headphones
- headphone jack splitter (so we could listen to audio books together)
- gameboy advance
- zelda games and pokemón red
- plastic waterbottle
- foundation, Isaac Asimov
- pocket knife
- lip balm
- hawthorne berry tincture (an herbal supplement)

for both of us:
- 2 toothbrushes
- toothpaste
- floss
- tongue scraper
- deodorant stone
- tiny first aid kit including:
    - 5 bandaids
    - 3 gauze pads
    - bug repellent (tiny bottle)
    - sunscreen (tiny)
    - a few cough drops
    - neosporin
    - moleskin
    -afterbite (Sam reacts more severely to mosquitos than I do)
(i once heard great advice on first aid kits: if you don't know how to use it, take it out of your kit. it's useless if you don't know how to use it.)
- towel (to remind us not to panic)
- fleece blanket
- small piece of clothesline (to tie up blanket/other uses)
- laptop computer (we actually planned on leaving this at my parent's house which was the first stop on our trip, but we ended up keeping it)
- rechargeable AA battery charger
- digital camera (with protective case)
- USB cord for camera
- Sam's Kindle Fire
- chargers of all kinds! (computer, ipod, phone, kindle.  we used a USB/outlet jack and were able to charge most things off of one jack instead of carrying around one for each device)
- large lightweight synthetic shopping bag (you know, the ones that crumple up really small)
- empty trash bag for dirty clothes

what Sam packed, from memory:
- 4 shirts
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 long skirt
- swimming shorts/top
- underwear, including 2 bras
- 1 pair of socks
- slip on walking shoes
- flip flops
- necklace
- contacts
- contact solution
- feminine hygiene products

- passport
- wallet with ID, cash card, etc
- photocopy of my passport/ID
- Greyhound Discovery Pass

- journal
- earbuds
- water bottle
- redwall
- phone

(the actual Discovery Pass)

I'm sure I've left a few things off the list by mistake, but that should give you an idea of what we took.  we packed almost all of our clothes in 1 gallon freezer bags and pushed all the air out of them by sitting on them, so our clothes were very compact.  this was also very useful when trying to keep things organized and nice when unpacking and repacking.
we carried everything in 2 backpacks.  Sam used the Vaude Brenta, 38L and I used the Osprey Talon, 45L.  the above mentioned items all fit easily in our packs with plenty of room for everything we bought on the trip.  this next list will give you a feel for what Sam and I consider important in our lives. :-)

what we picked up along the way: (and still had room to carry, mostly)

-13 books (most of which were comic books, many of which were hardback and larger than 8" x 11")
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 1 dress
- 3 shirts
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 pair of shorts
- 2 leggings
- 1 bandana
- 1 poster
- 1 CD
- 2 spoons
- disposable razors
- bar of soap
- facewash
- several playbills
- architect lamp
- sketchbook

most of these things were purchased at the very end of our trip when we had only one or 2 more cities to visit, and we ended up needing a shopping bag in addition to our backpacks our last ride back home. for me, comic books were the main temptation, but I could only buy books that I was willing to carry on my back the rest of the trip.  this meant that I only bought REALLY good ones, or ones that I couldn't find online or in my local shop. (for example, Toronto's comic shops were full of french language comics that are a pain to get in the US)

and now a list of advice we found useful:

- pack less than you need (which is less than you think you need) unless you plan on venturing far away from civilization, you can buy an extra t-shirt if you really need one.  don't overpack.
- pack things that have more than one use.  if you're going to a wedding at the end of the trip (like we did) bring a shirt that you can also wear out to dinner, or at the beach.  my Tom's are black and i wore them on the bus and to any semi-formal occasions.
- bring a journal if you're going to write in it.  I forgot mine and sorely regret it.
- you don't need a computer.  we failed on this one, sort of.  we planned on giving the computer to my sister at our first stop, but she was buying a new one, so we kept it.  we didn't use it much on the trip, except to post on the blog occasionally.  bring a tablet instead.
- drink water all the time
- bring something to sleep with on the bus. we used the towel and blanket and it make a huge difference.
- carry your pack onto the bus with you. we had heard stories of people's under-the-bus-baggage getting lost or damaged, so we crammed our bags into the overhead compartments every time.  I'm not sure if we would have had a problem with them in the storage compartments, but it did mean we had access to all of our stuff at all times and didn't have to wait for our bags when we got off the bus.
- sleep on the bus. we planned almost every bus ride to be overnight.  people are generally quieter on the bus at night (although not always...) it's dark and easier to sleep.  also you don't waste a day of travel when you could be exploring another city.  the downsides to this were that we didn't see the landscape of the country much.  we were willing to sacrifice that for more time in the cities.  also after an overnight bus ride we usually needed about 2 hours of undisturbed sleep either at our host's home or in a nearby park.
- audiobooks.  bring them, but don't pay for them.  go to your local library a few weeks before your trip and check out all the books on CD you want, rip them onto the computer and put them on your ipod.  we highly recommend Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book.
- bring good music. whatever does it for you.  i spent most of my time listening to the Gorillaz, and the Kooks.
- bring food on the bus.  you wouldn't believe how many people get on a 30 hour bus ride with no food.  although the bus stops often for meals, your options are limited to fastfood only.  not worth it.  our favorite travel food usually included a fruit juice, hummus, crackers, granola bars and trail mix.  we also experimented with cheese, salami, ginger ale, jam and chocolate bars.  Don't bring cheese if you mind it being kinda soggy.  same with the chocolate.  we did see a couple travelers bring a small cooler filled with ice. (one of those cloth lunch-bag type ones)  they would refill the ice whenever they needed to. (the bus stops frequently at convenience stores)  it's not a bad idea, and there were a few times i wish my cheese and ginger ale was cold. :-)  we figured if we had to endure less than comfortable busses, we might as well have good food.  ps: before getting on the bus we put all our food , ipod, kindle and blanket in our synthetic shopping bag and kept it at our feet the whole ride.
- swim lots.  we never regretted finding places to swim and cool off.
- practice walking.  before the trip walk places you usually drive or bike to.  a month or so before leaving wear your travel shoes every day and everywhere.  i also recommend wearing your pack lots.  the Osprey Talon is pretty small when all the straps are tightened and i used it as a school bag for months before leaving.
- stay with friends, relatives, friends of friends, or use couchsurfing.org.  we only paid for lodging for 2 of the 60 nights we were traveling.  we planned ahead.
- travel together.  lots of people prefer to travel solo, but we found lots of benefits to traveling in a pair.  here they are:
    - when one of you is tired, depressed or uncomfortable, the other can keep you going
    - you usually don't have to sit by a wierdo on the bus
    - you can sleep on each other on the bus.  take turns.
    - it's safer. i think.  we never felt threatened in any way on our trip, but having another set of eyes ears and never being alone is probably a good thing.
    - you can share food.  we often ordered a single meal and shared it at restaurants, or bought bread cheese and fruit and ate as we explored.  to make up for the smaller portions we ate about 4 meals a day.  we preferred smaller frequent meals and it costs the same but with the advantage of getting to eat at more cool restaurants.
- have a good attitude.  this saved us every day of the trip.  greyhound kinda sucks.  i wouldn't use the greyhound discovery pass if I wasn't ready to deal with it and enjoy the cheapest way to see north america.  we loved it.

No comments:

Post a Comment