Two weeks ago, I had the chance to return to Cuba on a mission trip to a town outside of Havana. We were there to participate in several outreach activities with the local community served by the church we partnered with back in 2015.
We visited several churches, led or participated in children’s ministries, and played soccer and softball. All this was done in the Caribbean summer, with no air conditioner. The heat and humidity was nothing new, as it was about as pleasant as daily life in Louisiana, but it did influence the packing list somewhat.
I will preface my list with a blanket statement of disappointment: I failed to achieve One Bag status yet again.
I brought my Ful Underseat Roller and my Outdoor Products 29L Odyssey backpack that I currently use as a fishing bag. I didn’t want to bring my North Face Vault and throw it in the dirt every day. Below is the list of things I brought and where I think I went wrong.
Travel Day Clothes
- 1 short sleeve button down shirt
- 1 t-shirt
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 boxer brief
- 1 pair of socks
- 1 pair shoes
Ful Underseater/Outdoor Products Odyssey Backpack
- 3 t-shirts
- 3 boxer briefs
- 3 socks
- 2 shorts
- 1 pair flip flops
- 1 packable rain jacket
- Toiletry kit
- Liquids kit
- Electronic bits
- Travel documents
- Flush-able wipes
Problems and Rants
The biggest problem I had was the combination of the snacks and bulk of the flip flops and the lack of trust in the sturdiness of the backpack.
Technically, I could fit everything but the snacks in the backpack but the result was a tighter fit than I was comfortable with. I did not want a zipper failure mid-trip. I also wanted a few snacks for the crazy hours of our transits.
After separating my things between both packs, neither was too full or heavy. However, it was a still nuisance to deal with travel documents, shoes and security lines with multiple bags in hand. I always felt like I was going to leave the roller behind.
After three trips now with 2 small carry-on bags, I have determined it would be easier with just a roller or a backpack – not both. I want one place for my travel documents. One thing to put through security. Preferably nothing to nearly leave behind in the bathroom. I digress …
For this trip, I followed a wear 1/pack 3 approach (1+3) for all but my shorts, which used 1+2. This was the final straw in illustrating why the 1+2 method should work in every case when sink washing clothes will occur.
Due to the oppressive heat, every shirt needed to be washed at the end of the day and due to the fact that many of the Cubans we were around seemed to rotate the same attire, wearing the same shirts repeatedly was perfectly fine.
I took home an entire change of clothes I did not wear. However, if given the chance to shower before heading to the airport, I would have changed into them just to have fresh clothes for the plane and car rides.
I did not use the packable rain coat. It only rained once during the day, and it was such a welcome relief that I chose to get wet instead of have a sauna in a rain shell. That will be replaced with a disposable poncho or umbrella next time.
I also didn’t need the snacks I brought, save for maybe two protein bars.
I did not have much electronics on this trip. I did have two phones: a busted iPhone 5 that I used as my offline Google Translator and camera, and my backup phone for stateside communication. I had USB and Lightning cables, one wall plug and a Euro adapter (they have combo outlets).
I regret nothing except maybe a better camera, like a mirror-less or something similar.
My bag and shower flip flop situations are still the biggest limiting factors to achieving one-bag status. I need some kind of minimal flip flop for sketchy showers.
I also think the 1+2 method of packing will be standard moving forward since I do not mind shower-washing my clothes.
My goal is still one-bag only, and while I didn’t achieve it, I have only confirmed the need for it and built my confidence to do it next time.