Jul 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm #1261125
Companion forum thread to:Jul 13, 2010 at 12:35 pm #1628632
Thanks for sharing your story and gear lists. Very impressive and sounds like you had a blast.Jul 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm #1628658
@hotrhoddudeguyLocale: New England
Could you elaborate on the "fake wallet"? sounds like an interesting study of human nature.Jul 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm #1628659
@gabe_joyesLocale: Lander, WY
Thanks for sharing!Jul 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm #1628665
Jon – In my back pants pocket, I carry a simple, thin wallet filled with about $10-15 in various currencies and a few "credit cards." The credit cards look real but are actually a collection of old cards from movie rentals, memberships, and credit card applications with our named scratched out. I keep enough money (including USD) in my wallet to satiate a thief, but the variety of currencies would make it appear like there is a lot of money without allowing for a quick conversion.
The idea is that my fake wallet makes an obvious target for pick-pocketers while keeping my real valuables safely hidden in my money belt and hidden zip pockets. Similarly, if I was ever held-up, I would happily hand over my fake wallet to satisfy the thief.
I got this idea from a friend who was robbed at gun point in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was her first day in the country, but luckily she had a fake wallet to hand over. Unfortunately, her friend who had been in the city for three months, lost her purse, which contained cash, credit cards, a passport, and camera.
We went through some really sketchy areas and very crowded markets throughout Latin America, but never lost a dime!Jul 13, 2010 at 3:42 pm #1628671
@lindahlbLocale: Colorado Rockies
I'm not sure about availability, but did you guys consider taking advantage of internet cafes as opposed to carrying a netbook? If so, what was the decision making process that made you select bringing the netbook?Jul 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm #1628695
Brian – Good question. Internet cafes were widely available and typically very cheap. Most hostels had a computer or three available for backpacker use for free or a small fee.
However, I would not travel for an extended time without the netbook. It was easily one of the most useful items that we brought, despite its weight.
Our netbook, with its 8-hour battery life, allowed us to make good use of our many, long bus rides. We could backup and edit photos, write emails (with Gmail Offline), watch movies, read books (PDFs), draft blog posts, and even write this article.
The vast majority of hostels had wifi, which meant we could use the internet at our convenience – free, no time limits and from the comfort of our room. Additionally, during the night I was able to upload all of my photos in full resolution for sharing and as a secondary backup.
Having the netbook therefore allowed us to spend less time at a computer desk while getting more done. We were actually very productive.
Most of the internet cafes and hostels provided very slow, poorly functioning computers. I can't tell you how many times I sat down at one of those, only to give up in frustration because the computer was on life support or the keyboard had sticky keys. Also, most hostels force time limits and curfews on computer usage, creating queues and sign-up sheets.
I might not have brought the netbook if I was traveling for a short time period or if I did not care to stay connected.Jul 13, 2010 at 5:50 pm #1628710
The fake wallet has long been a recommendation from travel sites when visiting locations with high risk of street theft.Jul 13, 2010 at 8:12 pm #1628749
Kristin and Danny,
One of the best reports I have read in a great while, and certainly a stellar addition to the BPL website.
Thank you for taking the time to let me travel along with you!
Love it. Looking forward to future parts.Jul 13, 2010 at 9:34 pm #1628776
@manuel-espejoLocale: La Cuchilla de los Santa.
Happy to read about some Thru-Hiker's adventures in my Country!!!
"Our tent works well on mountain peaks as well as tropical beaches. Tayrona National Park, Colombia."Jul 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm #1628800
Thank you all for the support and kind words. Initially, Kristin and I were a bit nervous in submitting this article. We have been reading BPL for years and so this was kind of a big deal. Plus, there are some really amazing athletes, gear makers, and gram counters in our BPL community. We can't compete with them!
While we might not have the lightest gear systems, we're pretty happy with our budget setup that allows us to travel and tackle most conditions. That being said, we do have a skin-out "life" base weight of less than 20 pounds.
Luz – we really enjoyed Colombia. We found it safe, friendly, and easy to travel around. We loved the huge variety of fruits and veggies! Colombia has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, but the international perception has been slow to adjust.Jul 14, 2010 at 2:07 am #1628805
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
I am 100% for separating my cash, as to give robbers "enough" but not that much.
But i wouldnt do the fake card trick or give a false number, a few people have been killed for that.
Like 2 frenchs a few years ago in London because their aggressors tried the cards and killed the 2 guys after they discovered they were given false numbers.Jul 14, 2010 at 2:30 am #1628807
Don’t worry about what others may think or say. You’re doing something you enjoy. You’re living your own adventure. It’s yours and don’t ever let someone say otherwise.
When traveling as a couple….have a code word, like "Apple Pie" that when one says this phase to the other, both of you know that one senses that something doesn't feel right.
I'm a firm believer that if one walks or rides though the world armed with just their intellect and wit, they will do just fine!
darylJul 14, 2010 at 5:03 am #1628820
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
this is a great article. Considering the awesome trip you just successfully completed who cares if people judge your gear. The reasoning behind your gear selection makes perfect sense!Jul 14, 2010 at 5:25 am #1628823
@bumperLocale: Coffs Harbour
I tend to skim a lot of trip reports but yours grabbed me wiu it's combination of simple honest gear tips and stunning premise of a two year hike. Wow!
Thanks for telling such a good story
KerriJul 14, 2010 at 6:35 am #1628835
wow you guys are luckyJul 14, 2010 at 6:39 am #1628838
as people who are spending 2 years on the trail, what other meals do you recommend?Jul 14, 2010 at 7:08 am #1628843
@jhawkwxLocale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
Great read! Congratulations on ridding yourself of the anchors that hold many of us in place. I particularly like your point on your "life baseweight". Many of us on BPL are gear hoarders or are holding on to that 2 lb thermarest because we never know when we might need it….I keep telling my wife that we are going to have an estate sale and price everything at basement prices and donate what's left. Backpacking continually proves me wrong in my efforts to cling to those life keepsakes that I will never use. We just did a 10 day trip w/ the first 5 spent backpacking. Upon returning to the car, I was extremely cranky about having to dig through the trunk and sift out what I was looking for.(even though all I had fit in the trunk of a Honda Civic) Whereas, on the trail my kit is easily sorted in seconds. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of budget did you allocate for a trip like this?Jul 14, 2010 at 7:18 am #1628847
"Our sarong can be used as a skirt or dress (for myself only, Danny passes)…"
–BIGFOOTJul 14, 2010 at 9:22 am #1628879
I'm really looking forward to more articles. I did a 9 month trip from South Africa to Egypt 12 years ago. You're article has flashed many forgotten memories. THANKSJul 14, 2010 at 11:47 am #1628912
I will address your food question in two parts. First, I will describe my food preferences and second, I will describe the food we ate while traveling and more specifically, while backpacking.
Healthy food gives me energy and makes me feel good, so I tend to eat lots of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and dark chocolate. I avoid white flour and white sugar as much as possible, as well as other processed foods, especially those with trans and hydrogenated fats.
Everywhere except for in Patagonia, we found cheap and local fresh produce. The closer we were to a jungle, the better the selection. The wealthier countries, such as Chile and Argentina, had a diet high in meat. Their preference made the availability of other edible protein sources (specifically nuts and whole grains) scarce and expensive. I ate meat occasionally, when my other option was starvation. I thought Peru and Ecuador had the best food, and Colombia as well. Guatemala had a great traditional breakfast. In all of those SA countries we found vegetarian restaurants which offered a filling and tasty set lunch menu for ~$1.60. Those countries also had central outdoor markets where the locals came to buy everything in bulk, which offered a better selection than the supermarkets, and also used less packaging.
We did not go out to eat very much. For lunch we typically made avocado and cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread. We could usually find whole wheat bread at supermarkets, and in big cities sometimes they would have a specialty bakery. If we cooked in a hostel or a friend's home, we usually made eggs with root vegetables (carrots, squash, beets, onion). Everyone who came to visit us brought a stack of dark chocolate bars. Sadly, even though Latin America grows much of the world's cocoa, in most countries it is hard to find a tasty dark chocolate bar (I like 70%+). Nuts were expensive everywhere, but we always carried almonds or walnuts to use as a snack or to add to breakfast oatmeal.
Our backpacking menus were very consistent across the continent. For breakfast we had oatmeal and various add-ins, the most common being raw wheat germ, almonds, honey, mini-bananas (first day only!), dried fruit, cinnamon, and dried milk powder. Lunch was usually sandwiches, cheese or tuna or peanut butter (if we could find it). Dinner was either whole wheat pasta (the pot cozy was necessary for the longer cook time) or dehydrated potatoes with a dried soup packet. For dessert, chocolate!
I hope this information helps, let me know if you want me to expand on something.
Thanks for all the positive comments!
KristinJul 15, 2010 at 2:16 am #1629161
Guys thanx again for the effort you put into your gear lists. Have either of you read Rolf Potts book?
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel.
I just started reading it the very day your article showed up here. Talk about timing! While I'm not currently a backpacker, I do plan, one day, to ride the Americas on a motorcycle.
darylJul 15, 2010 at 2:40 am #1629164
I used to carry exactly the same thing when I lived in London – sign of the times I guess.Jul 15, 2010 at 2:47 am #1629166
my wife and I are really impressed with your list/gear (and a bit jealous of your trip !). Enjoy and travel safe. When do you get to Oz ?!Jul 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm #1629332
Great write up! I appreciate the gearlist, and my wife (a microbiologist and water chemist) was especially interested in your water treatment choice. Well thought out equipment. I agree that the netbook is a worthwhile item. I have found mine to be a great tool in my travels.
Thanks again – Matt
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