Traveling light to Havana Cuba

Traveling Light: What I Learned

Many of you read my Traveling Light post wherein I talked about my new system of packing for 5-day trips. After taking my first trip, I came away with some thoughts.

First, the new backpack suitcase bag was fantastic quality. The compression straps were great to have, and the bag carried comfortably. It was so nice to have such a tiny, light bag to hoist up into the overhead bin on the plane.

Comfort became an issue when carrying around my cross-body purse all day. It turns out that with heavy additions, including my camera, the bag put too much of a strain on one shoulder. I tried switching it to the other shoulder after the first day, but the damage was done. This bag used to work for me, but it clearly no longer does. LESSON: I need a small daypack for schlepping around during long days of walking.

As for the things I packed, I was not lacking much. In fact, I didn’t even need the second pair of jeans I brought. I could’ve left them at home and had extra space, or I could have brought a pair of cropped pants that I’d forgotten I had. LESSON: You don’t need two pairs of jeans for 5 days, especially in a hot climate.

Things That Worked Great

New hair product. No Blow Dry is a hair product that gives your hair body without blow-drying. I found it shortly before I left, and I love it! In fact, I’m using it at home now, too. Not having to bring my hairdryer when I travel is a complete game-changer. (I once lugged a hair dryer around Europe for 3 months.)

Solid perfume. The bottle that holds my liquid perfume is regulation carry-on size, but it has a big funky cap that keeps it from accidentally spraying in transit. By pure luck, I had a solid perfume in my stash of bathroom detritus. It was tiny and actually smelled pleasant. This came from Vermont Country Store, but they don’t seem to carry them anymore. They go on like a lip balm or salve would.

Snacks. Bringing snacks with me to last the whole 5 days was a great idea. It was hard to get non-perishable snacks. I honestly didn’t see anything like that in Havana.

Neck wallet. I wore this across one shoulder, hanging in front over my clothes. I liked having my money hand like that. In the future, when I wear a backpack instead of a cross-body purse, this will be especially good to ensure my money is secure.

Things I Wish I’d Brought

  • A washcloth. My AirBNB had towels but no washcloths.
  • My watch. My phone turned out to be just a very heavy time-keeping device. It would’ve been great to avoid carrying it around.
  • My magnesium supplement. As it turns out, when you’re going to be walking way more than usual, that’s probably not a good time to stop taking the supplement that calms and relaxes your muscles. I’m going to find a small container to bring 5 days’ worth of the supplement with me.
  • A packable visor. Hats make my head too hot, but I really need sun protection. I’m going to invest in a packable visor like this one.
  • SD card reader. My Chromebook does not have an SD card slot, so I couldn’t transfer any photos to it from my camera. This meant I couldn’t post any photos while I was on the trip (since my phone would never find a wifi signal). I had a USB stick at home that is an SD card reader. It’s small and would’ve been no hassle to bring.
  • A medium-sized notebook. I brought some loose paper with me and figured I could buy a notebook at my destination if I needed one. It took me half a day to find a single notebook for sale in Havana.

I did feel a bit squeezed in my main piece of luggage, but I’d like to give it another shot before deciding whether to get a larger one. Overall, the packing aspect of the trip was a huge success.

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