Overall, I think the research I did and the fabulous advice I found from so many smart travelers helped me to have a stress free carry on only trip. So here is the round up:
1) My Osprey backpack was terrific. I carried it on my back easily, hoisted it up into the airplane bin easily, packed and repacked it easily, and never had it weighed after the first flight with Turkish Airlines. I think the people at the check-in counters just figured that a tiny little old lady with a backpack probably couldn’t carry more than the allotted 7 or 8 kgs.
2) Packing cubes are the bomb. ‘Nuf said. Or perhaps I should phrase that differently for security personnel ;-0
3) The luggage scale was indispensable at home because it made me ditch lots of things which I never really missed anyway. Admittedly, we never used it after we left home.
4) My three smartwool shirts (one short sleeve black and two bright colored tanks) worked as advertised, although I must say that the black tee was the most useful. The weather was unseasonably chilly in both Hong Kong and Hanoi and that shirt got one heck of a lot of wear. And I never washed it. And it never smelled. And it didn’t itch. The tanks . . . meh. Once we hit warm sunny places I actually wanted more coverage and didn’t wear tank tops at all. So, bottom line, I just ordered another Icebreaker short sleeve tee in grey from Moosejaw (on sale, natch) and a super lightweight 3/4 sleeve merino v-neck in ballet pink from J Crew (also at a steal). I’m totally convinced that merino wool in a fine gauge works for both hot and cold temps and packs and wears like a dream.
5) The rayon long sleeve T was a lifesaver, mostly because of the chilly temps early in the trip, but if I had it to do again I would take the new J Crew merino instead. The button up tunic blouse, not so much. I really didn’t use it. The Coolibar sarong was a great idea, and would be more useful if we had done more beach time. So, no regrets, but it didn’t get as much use as I thought it would. My bathing suits worked out fine, but we didn’t swim as much as we thought we might on this particular trip.
6) Most worn item: the Adea white tee shirt. Loved it. Cool, non-smelly, great coverage but stylish fit, washed that sucker out day after day and it was dry in a matter of hours with no wrinkles. I immediately ordered four 3/4 sleeve shirts when I got home, only two of which were on sale, which tells you how much I love the brand since I hardly ever pay full price for anything. The feel of this fabric on the skin is to die for, the fit is oh so Italian designer, and the care is easy peasy. I could do an infomercial on this brand!
7) Pants: the Lululemon travel/bike-to-work/dry-quick grey pants were AWESOME. Wore them constantly in heat or cold. The Athleta taupey haremish pants were perfect, but I am a little concerned that they won’t last. Only wore the Kuhl shorts one or twice, but they were comfy and fit great. I much preferred wearing the yoga cropped tights out in public in warm weather places. I only wore a skirt once in Cambodia.
8) My hat was a great success, and totally necessary once we left Hanoi. Best part–it smushed down in whatever shape to fit into my pack and then could be reformed (the wire in the brim meant it didn’t flop). And, it fit my rather small head and stayed on even in gusts. And of course, sunglasses both prescription and regular, were essential.
9) I really didn’t need the Prana yoga top.
10) All of the shoe choices were great. No blisters. Lots of walking in each pair. Felt stylish and not clunky. Win.
11) Ex Officio underwear is everything everyone says it is. I bought two more pair on sale when I got home as I have discovered they are the best for yoga and the gym too–no panty line and (ahem) no stink. Plus they dry in an instant.
12) My Patagonia Nanopuff jacket was indispensable. Not only for the chilly times, but wadded up as a pillow on the plane (we took nine flights in all). And it took up no space in either my purse or my backpack.
13) The Athleta SPF50 white ruched v neck coverup and my Blockshop Textiles scarf were the most used items, providing layers, sun or wind protection, style, all the while keeping me cool when that was important, skin cancer free we hope, or warm when necesary. I can’t say enough about either one.
14) Tech-wise, I never used the new camera tripod. It was bulky and I hadn’t practiced before the trip. We didn’t need the voltage converter because all of our electronics did that themselves. Those two items were heavy. We never bothered to get phones in Vietnam, but I will get a new iPhone 5 or 6 before our next international trip so we can use SIM cards. Best tech tip: Get Tunnelbear. I never felt compromised using public wifi in hotels or cafes or airports. It’s worth it and very reliable. My RFID tiny wallet was also great for peace of mind.
15) TSA was fine with my scissors — both the small kid ones and the sewing kit ones. Hong Kong balked at the kid ones, measured them and let me pass. Danang security took the sewing scissors. No one cared about liquids. Sometimes I had to take my shoes off, sometimes I didn’t. Moral of the story: you never know. Every checkpoint is different.
16) My J Crew purse was terrific for flights because I could stuff so much into it (camera, liquid 1 quart bag, guidebook, IPad, chargers). Outside of Hong Kong I didn’t carry it but instead used a fabric carryall that folded into a tiny pouch. Why? Best not to be carrying an expensive leather bag in places where that seems first-world extravagant.
I have a lot to say about toiletries, cosmetics, medications, etc. but I’ll save that for the next post.