The Astromaid Chronicles

Slow Travel, Creative Living, and Speculation

Packing for The Hemispheres — from Peru to the Midwest to India

As you all might have gathered from my last post, I’m about to head out of Peru and toward the Far East for a period of time. A college friend shall marry — HURRAH! — and both Kelli and I will be jetting to India to witness the Hindu nuptials. As an added bonus, we’re getting to India right on Kelli’s birthday, which will be awesome but also probably super jet-laggy for her. Don’t worry, Kelli, we’re going to celebrate with strange alcohols and/or curries as soon as possible. Even if you’re asleep as I spoon feed birthday things into your mouth.

The fact that I live in Peru provided some travel planning friction. I researched flights in all manner of ways: from Columbia to India, from Panama to India, even from various points in the Midwest. All were expensive enough to make me think maybe I should defer my student loans again, or get another job, or just toss the whole trip altogether.

But then there was Chicago. Our flights rang in at about $800 round trip, Chicago to New Delhi. HIGH FIVE!

There still remained the small task of moving my physical being from PERU to CHICAGO in order to catch that flight, of course, but I took care of that with some accumulated airline points, so that leg of the trip ended up being only a couple hundred bucks extra.

So, all told? Less than $1,100 to get from the mountains of Peru to Chicago, where I’ll spend five lovely days with friends, then on to India for five weeks, and back again to Cusco.

Not. Bad.

The travel logistics weren’t the biggest part of the travel puzzle. In fact, the biggest piece of this international pie, so to speak, is something that I only realized recently.

It’s summer in Cusco right now. While that doesn’t mean much (like, hello, I wear alpaca booties everyday and drape heavy blankets over my lap while I work), it DOES mean that I can mostly survive without a proper winter jacket.

But, wait. It’s January right now. And in a few days, I”ll be arriving to *gulp* the Midwest. In WINTER. TO CHICAGO, NO LESS. WHERE THE LAKES FREEZE AND HIGHWAYS EXPLODE FROM ICE AND TEMPERATURES ARE NEGATIVE 50!

Some of that might be exaggerated, but the point remains: IT’S GONNA BE COLD.

And…yeah, that’s right…I don’t have a winter jacket.

Oversight City! OOPS! I left my jacket in Ohio, thinking I would be able to get by without it in Peru (which I am), forgetting entirely about my brief visit to Chicago in HIGH WINTER.

Even if I had thought ahead, which I clearly didn’t, I’m not sure I would have brought it anyway. Winter jackets are BULKY and take up PRECIOUS space in a backpack. When you live on such limited space, you gotta pare things down to the UTMOST necessities. I’m afraid I would have left the jacket behind anyway.

At any rate, I will be moving myself from the equivalent of early spring weather in Cusco to DASTARDLY COLD temps in Chicago to moderate-to-HOT climes in India.

HOW DOES A GIRL PACK FOR THIS CRAP?!

Sigh.

I’ll tell you how.

My experience in traveling Ryan Air through Europe taught me an important lesson about overweight luggage fees, and layering clothing to avoid this. When your overstuffed backpack rings in mere kilo or two overweight, you begin putting on your clothes. This can sometimes lead to a very sweaty, uncomfortable experience depending on what part of Europe you’re traveling.

But for me, right now? This will be the only way to survive.

Leg 1: Cusco to Lima = Normal, but carry-on will be bursting with various sweaters and leggings, waiting for their moment to shine.

Leg 2: Lima to Miami = Normal, maybe even a little warm once we get to Florida. Carry-on still straining. Extra leggings waiting to be put on, as well as the leg warmers, and the two pairs of gloves, and two extra sweaters.

Leg 3: Miami to Chicago = bundled up like a stiff yeti with dreadlocks! Carry-on luggage suddenly, magically, light as a feather.

Luckily, the area of India where I’ll be spending most of my time won’t be blazing hot, so I will have a use for all the Peruvian sweaters I’m carrying around like a street vendor.

On my way back through Chicago in March, I’ll have to do the quintuple-layer dance once more, but hey. If it means I don’t have to clog up my backpack with a full-time winter jacket, I’ll sacrifice joint movement for a lighter load.

Just be aware that if you see me somewhere in Chicago in the next few months and wave at me, dont expect me to wave back. I probably won’t be able to lift my arm higher than my shoulder. It’s just the dense layers of alpaca clothes prohibiting my movements — I’m not blowing you off, I swear. 

1 Comment

  1. Can we leave warm clothes in an airport locker for you, like in the Bourne movie series? Maybe include thousands in international currency and a fake beard.

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