“That’s not a lot of clothes for six months…” I say as I look at the apparel laid out on my bed. And it’s true. When this journey started, I had a hard enough time pairing my clothes down to three suitcases, and one (giant) duffel bag full of shoes! Now, I’m trying to fit everything I need for the next six months into one backpack. Yikes.
The Great Enlivening began in October and continued as we headed to Baja California, Mexico for three months. Now, four months in to the journey, it’s time for the next phase. And after much prayer and consideration, we still don’t know exactly what this season will look like.
Sure, we could take out our travel bucket-lists of all the places we’ve ever wanted to go, and plan our journey that way. But this is a journey by faith. Which means that we’re letting God lead us to where we’re supposed to go.
“How on earth are we supposed to pack for this?” I ask Rachel, who’s packing her bag in the next room.
She walks in to my room and says “Well, I guess we just have to be ready for anything!”
As it turns out, this is no easy task. Every item needs to have multiple purposes. I need to sleep, workout and go-out in as many combinations of these clothes as possible. Oh yeah, and it all needs to be wrinkle free… which pretty much means that Rayon/Spandex blends are my new love.
So here’s what made the list:
- Tank tops (x5)
- Short Sleeve Tops (x2)
- Long Sleeve Shirt (x1)
- Dresses (x3)
- Sports Bras (x2)
- Convertible all-in one bra (x1)
- Undies (x7)
- Bathing Suit (x1)
- Long Black Pants (x2)
- Capri Black Pants (x1)
- Black Shorts (x1)
- Black Skirt (x1)
- Jeans (x1)
- Chambray Top (x1)
- Rain Jacket (x1)
- Khaki Jacket (x1)
- Scarf (x1)
- Cardigan Sweater (x2)
- Baseball Cap
- Gray Flats
- Running Shoes
- Flip Flops (aka – hostel shower shoes, ick!)
The “Practical & Pragmatic” Items:
- Safety Whistle (because you can’t bring mace on a plane)
- Tiny Flashlight
- Eye Mask / Ear Plugs
- Sleep Sack (bed-bug proof!)
- Spork (yes, a spork)
- Drain Stopper (I fear I’ll be doing a lot of laundry in the sink)
- Laundry Soap Sheets (for all of my sink laundry…)
- Door Stopper (for those lovely hostels without locks on the doors!)
- Electronic Adapter Kit
- iPhone Camera Lenses
- Laptop & Charger (we are writing a blog after all…)
- iPhone & Charger
- Toiletries (so I’m clean)
- Deck of cards (so I can win friends and influence people)
And finally, the “Don’t Judge Me” items:
- Hair Straightener (just because I’m living like a vagabond, doesn’t mean I have to look like one!)
- Kate Spade Purse (see hair straightener comment)
- Yoga Mat (I’m addicted now, I need this)
- Neck Pillow (I’m pillow-particular. Like I said, don’t judge me.)
- Selfie Stick (for all my selfies…)
Amazingly, all of this fits in one 45-liter backpack and a 15-liter daypack. When it’s all said and done it weighs about 28 pounds. It’s not light, but hey, it could be worse!
As our time in Mexico started drawing to an end, Rachel felt convicted to pray about where we should go next. And she was quickly led to research information about Argentina. Soon after that, the two of us were diligently typing away on our laptops, researching everything from Antarctic Penguins to Zika Virus.
“Man, Argentina is far-away!” I lament, as I looked at the twenty-four hour flight times. “And it’s really expensive to get there…” since every one-way ticket I can find costs somewhere between $1,100 and $1,200.
“Wait a minute!” Rachel exclaims, “What day did we want to leave?”
“February 6th” I say.
“Well I don’t know why this one is so cheap, but I think we should book it!” She says as she points to her computer screen. I look over and see that it lists a price of $599 for a flight from San Diego, California to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Definitely! Let’s book it.” I start typing and I pull up the same website. I enter the search terms exactly as Rachel has them listed and I get… nothing. So I try it again, maybe I entered something incorrectly. But after typing in my parameters a second time, I’m left staring at a screen that reads “$1,100, $1,199, $1,205, etc.”
After a few more tries, I clear my cookies and somehow keep getting the same results! I look at Rachel and ask “what the heck is happening here?” She laughs and says, “I have no idea!”
I think back to how Rachel was prompted to pray for our trip and how God told her to research Argentina, and it all starts to make sense. I’m not saying that God is behind the technical workings of Kayak.com, but… he kind of is. And by listening to his prompting, Rachel was able to book two tickets for us, at the price of one!
A few minutes later we’re busy planning our time in Argentina. We are a couple of type-A’s after all. But the more we plan, the more our plans just don’t work out. In fact, we even booked a couple of flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, Argentina that were cancelled by the airline as quickly as they were booked.
I start to feel a little frustrated and wonder if we really are supposed to go to Argentina, or if somehow we got our signals crossed. When I get a subtle reminder during our Morning Prayer time – “Stop trying to put this in a box.”
This is a reminder that God gives me fairly often. It means, “stop trying to look at this in a way that makes sense based on your experience and perspective.” You see… I’m a problem solver. If I know the end-goal, my mind will start meticulously working through every scenario that could help me achieve it. But with God, we don’t always get to know the end goal. And if He tells me to go to Argentina without a plan, then I’m supposed to go, no questions asked.
This is SO much easier said than done. I’ve built my life inside carefully crafted boundaries that keep me safe and secure – financially, emotionally and physically. Boundaries are great that way; they’re designed to keep us safe. But sometimes, we become so comfortable living inside our risk-adjusted boxes, that we never leave them.
That’s where I found myself a few years ago, stuck inside the box of my life. And though it was calm and cozy, something was missing. My heart was craving adventure, inspiration and novelty. And those things just can’t be found by staying inside the lines.
So in an effort to continue growing and becoming the person I wish to become, I decided to fully embrace the ambiguity of the next several months of my life – starting with Argentina. On Saturday, Rachel and I leave for Buenos Aires with nothing more than a backpack, a one-way ticket and a three-day hostel reservation. And though it doesn’t exactly feel cozy and comfortable, everything about it feels right.
PS – Mad props to the ‘House of Pain’ for my title… it’s a classic.
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12 thoughts on “Pack it Up, Pack it In, Let me Begin…”
You are lucky to have this opportunity.. just go with the flow.. listen to your gut and watch for the signs that God gives you as to what you should do next and where to go. He always guides and will lead the way. I myself recently booked a trip to Australia for 6 weeks.. panicked after booking because i will be unemployed soon.. and sat on it for a bit and talked to God and let Him lead me to what to do.. which ended up being me changing my ticket for free to a shorter 4 week trip (thinking that I can always extend later and pay for that if i want to). It will always work out in the end. Hard times and good times are lessons from Him.. I would love to do what you are doing but I’m not keen just yet at taking that plunge alone…
Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely know what you mean though, I don’t know that I would be as comfortable taking this trip by myself. I feel so blessed to have a friend to do this with. I hope you embrace and enjoy your trip to Australia! Maybe we’ll be there around the same time… who knows!
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If I -had- to take a utensil, I’d take a Kung Foon (a short-handled spoon withe chop-sticks inside) like I got for Wendy a few years ago. I will see if I can find a couple for you. Will you be Argentinean long enough for me to send them to the embassy? Your pack list looks like our “zombie apocalypse” bags, although mine has fewer bras- my daily work bag packs out at 34lbs but I carry a lot of first aid and water stuff. Have a blast, and consider Chile while you’re down there.
Thanks Ed! I couldn’t stop laughing about the bra comment… We’re definitely thinking about Chile! And to answer you question – I have no idea how long we’ll be in Argentina, but a Kung Foon sounds like an amazing invention, how have I not heard of this??
You didn’t mention your furry friends, are they staying behind on their own adventure?
Blessings on the next leg of your journey. God is with you.
Nims and Mugs will be living the good life at Hotel De Grandma. I’m sure I’ll come back to a couple of misbehaving pups who’ve gained 15lbs… 🙂
Your lives continue to excite me and inspire me!! So happy for both of you! Natalie- miss you so much! Rachel- can’t wait to meet you someday soon. Important question though…What about the dogs??? I have missed a few previous blogs so if you mentioned it earlier, sorry for the repeat question.
Lisa – I miss you so much!! And congrats on your new job by the way! The pups are staying with my mom (which is amazing!). Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to make this trip! Think about meeting us somewhere along the way. I’ll keep you posted as our itinerary unfolds and if you can make it, we would love for you to visit!
For those who are wondering, the dogs are staying with their gramma in San Diego.
Natalie, you have great organizing skills!
You are amazing mom, without you, this trip wouldn’t be happening!
Argentina rocks!! The buses are great and the people are wonderful. Think about the wine country on Mendoza and the go over the Andes to Chile!! You two should learn to tango!!
Oh man… I tried to tango once in Mexico, it was not attractive. But what do they say? “Try, try again!” I’ll let you know if I tango, but definitely count me in for wine country 🙂