November 29, 2012

Excess Baggage

All I need now is a sherpa!

It crossed my mind the other day that with a temperature difference of over 60 degrees between some of the cities, its no surprise that I’m struggling to fit my wardrobe into just one bag. Ulan Bator will be be -32 C on Friday, and on the same day Bangkok will be +32 C.

The ideal solution is a full time porter who speaks seven languages and can carry 100 kg balanced on his head, but I think he might be hard to find. Then there is the issue of getting “Passepartout” his own ticket (in 3rd class!).

My solution is therefore threefold.

1) Get some bags that I can somehow carry.
2) Get local hotels and ground agents to meet me at stations (where practical).
3) Go through all my kit again and chuck some more stuff out!

I have now done a further first “test pack”and I think I am nearly there. I have not tried carrying it all yet though..

As you can see I have two North Face “cargo duffles”, one small and one extra large, a carry on wheeled bag and a Tenba camera bag for all my important stuff. My plan is that the XL duffle can be worn on my back like a rucksack, the Tenba bag across my front and then one bag in each hand..

My main cargo bag

I’m using an Eagle Creek packing system. You can see here bags for clothes, shoes, toiletries, and a couple of tupperware boxes, one for first aid, the other for Christmas decorations. The brown bag has got train stuff in like torches, earplugs, penknife, secret key etc.

My document bag

The Tenba bag has all the important stuff – tickets, camera, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, headphones and glasses amongst other odd and sods. The blue thing is a microfibre cloth to keep the screens clean.

My wheeled carry on bag

As you can see this bag acts mainly as a drinks cabinet (along with other heavy stuff like electronics). Once I’m off the trains this will be almost empty and I can stash other stuff into it.

My small cargo bag

Finally my small duffle bag has enough food to cover the first leg of my trip plus a few treats for Siberia. The boxes contain sauces, tea, and hot chocolate.

So although it looks a lot most of it will actually be eaten or used on the trains leaving me with probably only 20kg of luggage when I reach Shanghai and need to start worrying about checking it in on flights again. The tough bit is going to be in Amsterdam and Warsaw where I am without “fighter cover” and it will be full, so at its heaviest weight. In Moscow, Beijing and Shanghai I am being met by my local man on the platform, so hopefully a bit easier..

All the bags lock with a padlock on the zippers. I have also added a motorbike helmet lock to the end of the large duffle – the idea is the cable can lock all the bags down to something using the handles and the rack in my carriage compartment.

Does that look about right? I cant really carry any more, but don’t want to carry much less either..

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