Long term travel with your loved one can provide the occasional catalyst for disagreement. You may want to visit the local museum, he may not. He may want to spend the day hiking to the top of a mountain, you may not.

However when one half of a travel team loses a vital piece of gear belonging to the other, it makes for…

…well I’ll tell you how it happened.

LOSING A CAGOULE IN THE TROPICS

Pressing my nose against the window my breath forms a circle of condensation on the glass.

An unfamiliar landscape rushes past and as my mind drifts into a dream the colours begin to blur. Abruptly the bus comes to a halt and people begin to collect their bags. Scanning the surroundings I search desperately for a recognisable landmark but draw a blank.

‘¿Perdón es esta Liberia?’ I ask the woman sat on the seat in front.

She turns to look at me, her expression blank.  I begin to wonder if my limited Spanish has let me down and I’ve perhaps insulted her in error. She stares at me for a few seconds before answering ‘Si.’

By this point the driver has his foot on the throttle and the ramshackle vehicle starts to jolt forward. Ben wakes from his slumber dazed and confused.

‘No Señor, no te vayas,’ I shriek as I stand and move into the aisle.

Hearing my call the driver slams his foot hard on the brake and I fly forwards towards the windshield.

PACKING FOR LONG TERM TRAVEL

Long Term Travel A Waterfall near our House Sit in Liberia

Our experience of long term travel has taken us through six countries in the past two years and so far we’ve lost just one item of travel gear along the way.

Note: When I say -‘we’- I actually mean -‘I’-  but as we’re in this together for better or worse (and the item in question wasn’t actually mine) I feel the term -‘we’- to be more appropriate in this instance.

When you’re nomadic three hundred and sixty five days of the year you soon realise just how few possessions you require.

Stood in the living room of my parents’ house organising my fifty five litre backpack a little over two years ago I cursed our decision to travel with purely hand luggage baggage allowance. In hindsight I’m incredibly glad we did. While navigating public transport in Central America, traversing foreign terrain late at night and transferring through copious international airports, I soon realised just how much additional stress a cumbersome load would add.

Fresh from our travels through the USA we arrived in Costa Rica for a house sitting assignment just outside the city of Liberia in the northern province of Guanacaste. With two weeks until we were due to arrive at the house we decided to check off a few items from our ‘must see’ list.  After a brief glimpse of the country’s diverse landscape we were on our way to Liberia when the incident occurred.

Scrambling to depart the Tico bus in Liberia I was unaware that life was in the process of providing me with a valuable lesson in possession management.

Having successfully whittled my packing list down in size I was of the opinion I had become some sort of minimalist deity, however unpacking and repacking on an almost daily basis was beginning to take its toll.

Long Term Travel Parakeets in Monteverde

That morning we’d rushed to catch the bus from Monteverde and in my haste to ensure we didn’t miss our only ride out of town my Tetris esq packing had flown out the window.

Items were rammed into my backpack and the zip forced closed. Ben on the other hand had managed to avoid unpacking anything, (don’t ask me how) and so decided to help me along by quoting exactly how many minutes remained until the bus left.

Needless to say I forgot to pack one item, Ben’s Cagoule (that squishes nicely into a little bag) wont fit in my pack. Clipping it onto the exterior of my backpack I heaved my pack onto my back and we ran to catch the bus.

 —

‘Have you got everything? Ben shouts as we scramble to leave the bus.

‘Yes’ I reply rolling my eyes. We had a single backpack each how could I forget anything?

 —

We’re stood in the porch watching as the rain lashes down onto the drive causing the tiny shards of gravel to float above the soil. It’s been a few days since we arrived at the house and we’re in need of supplies. The owners have instructed us not to use their car, the roads are unpaved and the local drivers unqualified, so our only mode of transport are the bicycles sat under the car port.

‘Let’s just go,’ suggests Ben, ‘we’ve both got raincoats.’

He retreats back into the house, I remain at the door. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to tell him. I’ve been avoiding the subject for the last few days. Fortunately the weather has provided me with no need to highlight my slip-up. I knew my good fortune wouldn’t last long. The one item of travel gear that you can be sure you’ll need during rainy season in the tropics is a cagoule.

TRAVELLING LIGHT ISN’T ALWAYS EASY

I’ll never know exactly how it happened. I can only assume the clip came loose and the coat fell from my pack. That or perhaps petty theft.

Having so few items enables fast, flexible and stream lined travel, however it also means that you rely heavily on the limited number of things you carry. Finding yourself in the topics during rainy season without a light weight, breathable rain coat is not ideal. After an extensive search of the local shops the only replacement we could find was a plastic jacket that caused the wearer to sweat half their body weight in fluid.

Ironically we never saw a local Tico wearing a rain coat. I joked that if we did it would probably have been Ben’s.

He didn’t see the funny side.

✈ ✈ ✈

Have you lost anything while travelling? Share your tales of woe with us in the comments section.

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23 Responses

  1. Wade

    My girlfriend and I are gearing up for a year long RTW adventure…I’m carrying a 46 liter backpack and she is carrying something slightly smaller…so we will definitely be relying heavily on everything we bring (as it won’t be much). Hopefully we can steer clear of losing anything, but I’m not that naive! Awesome post though! Keep up the nice work!
    Wade recently posted Rich Travel Blueprint: Paris in 4 DaysMy Profile

    Reply
    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Oh I feel your pain, I recently dropped our head lamp and the glass bulb smashed. Fortunately it is still functioning, we use it so often I’m not sure what I would have done if it had broken!

      Reply
    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Michaela, Unfortunately we had no food at all and we were both famished! I don’t think the hunger aided the situation at all! Hungry traveller + rain – cagoule = Grumpy Traveller!

      Reply
  2. Lisa Goodmurphy

    I learned two things – what a cagoule is and that I need one if I’m visiting Costa Rica during the rainy season! I often forget to pack something but I don’t think that I have ever left anything behind while traveling. My husband on the other hand has left behind chargers plugged into the wall of hotel rooms on more than one occasion. They were never my responsibility though! ;)
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted Photo Memories from the Grand CanyonMy Profile

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    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Ha! The forgotten charger is a frequent feature for many travellers I’m sure! Having travelled continuously for the past two years I’m finally at a place where I have a system to avoid these sorts of episodes! Fingers crossed the system continues to work!!

      Reply
  3. Mara

    First of all, thank you for teaching me a new vocabulary word – I had no idea what a cagoule was until I looked it up. Since I travel with kids, I know about keeping track of other people’s belongings on the road and once had to phone a hotel frantically from an airplane to see if my child’s precious lovey bear was in the bed in our room (it was, and we got it back). I’m sorry you couldn’t find a replacement!

    Reply
    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Oh I’m so pleased you recovered the teddy bear. Losing an item with sentimental value is just awful. It was such a pain trying to find a suitable replacement, the locals didn’t seem to mind getting wet although they did carry umbrellas!!

      Glad to be able to add an new word to your vocab!

      Reply
  4. InsideJourneys

    Love your story. I was going to say I’ve never lost anything in my travels but I forgot about the jacket I left at the hotel I stayed at in Paris.
    I had decided to stay one more night and when I returned to the room, I put my jacket in the closet. I remember thinking, keep everything together. By the time I left the hotel, it had warmed up and I didn’t need a jacket. Two days later when I was getting ready to return home, I realized I’d left it. Called the hotel, yes, it’s there, they tell me. I asked them to hold it for me and a friend would pick it up. They promised to then told my friend they couldn’t find it. It was a favorite jacket and I was mad at myself and at them.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.
    InsideJourneys recently posted Jamaica’s Fascinating FretworkMy Profile

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  5. Life Images by Jill

    Perhaps next time he needs to pack his own bag! Great story. I am glad you saw the funny side of it all. I can’t imagine living out of a backpack – I am a terrible packer. I can never decide what to take, and always end up wishing I had a particular piece of clothing.
    Great entertaining post.
    Have a great week and thanks for stopping by my blog today.

    Reply
    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Jill. I also used to be a terrible packer, however two years of continuous travel will make you a minimalist ninja!

      Reply
    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Johanna. We loved your piece about the Kimberly region. Wish we could have made it there on our Aussie road trip.

      Reply