by Wendy Reeve
When my husband decided a 6-week train trip across Russia, Mongolia and China was his idea of a grand birthday celebration, who was I to argue? Travel is a balm for the soul, and the Trans Mongolian was just the thing to put a lightness back in our step.
What to pack for 6 weeks across 3 distinct climates (from cool to sweltering), varying accommodation (from hotels and yurts to train compartments), and travelling light.
We decided that with all that movement, we really didn’t want to be slowed down dragging cumbersome luggage behind us. Our favourite suitcases are convertible soft-sided numbers that fit in the overhead compartment, and have thick, comfortable shoulder straps that can be tucked away. So you can choose tote or backpack. We tend towards pack, since it’s balanced and hands-free.
With minimal bag space, we needed to be strategic about what to take. Layering would be key, as would easy wash/dry as doing laundry en route would be a regular part of our routine to make travelling light work. We’re not big shoppers in general, and certainly not ones to purchase new travel wardrobes, but we soon realised that we didn’t have a lot of the essentials in quick-dry and odour resistant fabrics.
silkliving.com to the rescue!
2 pairs of socks (quick dry)
2 dresses (merino/silk and quick dry)
1 skirt – a skort (quick dry)
3 shirts (merino and merino/silk)
1 pants (black travel jeans)
1 hiking pants (light weight quick dry)
Coat (light puffer jacket that compacts down to near-nothing)
Rain jacket (ultra light weight for athletes, but high water resistance rating)
1 sandals (made for walking/comfort, but attractive enough to be dressed up)
1 trainers (all black and low profile, so dress up/down possible)
Accessories: 3 scarves (1 large/wrap style), 1 black belt
Of course we had to be strategic about toiletries and personal items, too (from Kindles, phones and cameras to chargers). On the toiletries front, we went with solid soap, lotion (yes, even facial moisturiser), shampoo and conditioner to make our liquids limit easier to manage.
The next items are the ones that really set us apart from travel novices:
Sistema cutlery sets (for lunchboxes)
Quick dry travel towel (hand towel size)
Scrubba Wash Bag
Wooden clothes pegs
Ultra-light day pack
Ultra-light hip pack
Water bottles with integrated filters
Silk sleep sacks
Now I could wax lyrical about each of the items on our list, as all were very thoughtfully chosen. In quick summary, we actually finished the trip feeling well-pleased. We weren’t overloaded. We were able to vary our wardrobes enough to stay looking good (even attending an evening of Opera at the Bolshoi Theatre), but also to rotate things through washing, drying and wearing at an acceptable rate. We had some extras that made things just that little bit easier. And we felt like we could have kept going: a real sign of a successful trip.
But the favourite item that we brought with us was actually something I wasn’t even sure we’d use: our Silksaks. My rationale for buying these silk pouches was actually fear of the unknown. I didn’t really know what to expect – especially on the trains , but really throughout the trip. While not germ-phobic, I wanted to feel like I had a sanitary place to sleep. So I bought 1 for each of us, wondering if they would spend the entire trip in our bags.
I was sure my husband would protest when I pulled them out, but I figured, “At least they pack into a tiny pouch and are as light as a feather.” I carried his in my bag, just in case I decided they weren’t needed.
Why did we both love our Silksaks?
They are incredibly soft and light, but also warm. The trains we were in actually provided decent linens, but they were hard and scratchy. We put the bottom sheets down, then crawled into our Silksaks and were cocooned in softness. Not just for trains, they were soon pulled out of our bags at apartments, hotels and yurts as well.
Silk is surprisingly adaptable in terms of heat. My husband tends to overheat easily, but never felt the need to escape his Silksak. I tend to be cold, and always felt cosy and warm inside mine. On the plane home, I even took mine to use instead of the airline blanket left in my seat.
A clear (surprise) winner, the Silksak will be a permanent resident in our travel arsenal. Oh, and the water bottle with the integrated filter is right up there, too. We filled up literally everywhere, including bathroom sinks, and never got a bug! Now we need to start planning our next epic journey!
We can call it: Have Silksak, will travel. But next time I may pop in some of SilkLiving’s Socks and an Eye Mask as well!