Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Packing Lists

Seems like everyone is planning to go to Buenos Aires these days. Just the past month at least ten people we know have gone/will be going on their tango pilgrimage.

Man Yung and I are planning to travel to Buenos Aires again next March for CaMiCando 2009 - it seems a long way away, it can never be too early to start preparing.

So, in the spirit of obsessive preparedness for any trip lasting more than 48 hours, we present to you:

Irene and Man Yung's "Traveling Gringo Essential Packing List"
(In no particular order of importance)

1. Eagle Creek Travel Accessories

Are you nerdy if your suitcase opens up to reveal a densely packed array of colour-coordinated Eagle Creek packing Folders, Cubes and Sacs? The answer is yes. But you will be organized, you would have maximized space in your suitcase, and your clothes will be completely wrinkle free! Beats putting everything in grocery plastic bags and stuffing them in willy-nilly - and having the customs people searching your luggage at the airport think that you are hauling garbage.

I LOVE Eagle Creek products - that means packing aids, travel comfort accessories, luggage, everything. I don't mind looking like a walking advertisement for their goods, because they make traveling so much easier. Man Yung is still partial to packing the "old-fashioned" way (does that mean wrapping your stuff with a tablecloth and tying it to the end of a stick?) and he grumbles whenever I pull out the nerdy un-macho Eagle Creek packing paraphernalia, but how can he possibly complain when there are always four pristine sets of clothes in my Eagle Creek double-sided packing cube for him to change into at the milonga, with a separate compartment to separate the dirty clothes from the clean?

2. Pac-Safe

If you are a travel paranoid like me, Pac-Safe is not merely an imitation neo-medieval torture device - it is a MUST for travel.

Pac-Safe has a complete line of products featuring flexible high tensile wire mesh and well-designed security and locking devices to foil any pickpocket or opportunistic thief. Slash-and-grab won't work on you, and no-one is going to get away with your camera equipment, computer, luggage, or other valuables unless they have bolt-cutters.

I love Pac-Safe so much (or should I say, "I am so paranoid") I am carrying a dorky black nylon "Metrosafe 200 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag" around everyday instead of matching my handbag and accessories with my clothes and shoes.

I haven't been asked to lunch by the ladies who lunch lately. I wonder why?

3. Crocs

If you think black coloured "Crocs" are more "subtle" and less "noticeable" than fuschia or neon green coloured "Crocs", you are mistaken. The only way not to look like a fashion victim while wearing these hideous foam boating shoes in public is to either a) wear extra-long bell-bottom trousers that cover up your Crocs completely but drag on the floor, in which case be careful of tripping and please roll up your pant legs while visiting less-than-sanitary public washrooms, or b) be a Crocs ambassador and act so supremely confident that Crocs is your fashion statement of choice that no-one will dare question your satorial superiority in wearing "Crocs with socks" or "Crocs with wedding dress" (or you may even try "Crocs with socks and wedding dress").

However, your feet will thank you for providing a comfortable footwear alternative after that 15 mile hike in the desert, 14 hour tango private class/group class/milonga marathon, or even that 45-minute trek from Terminal A to Terminal B at the airport.

4. Pocketknife

Very handy if you are in the middle of an open air market in Paris and you have no other way to carve that rosemary roasted chicken for an impromptu picnic. You may choose any of the Victorinox or Wenger swiss-army knives for your choice of pocketknife - the included wine corkscrew gadget for opening wine bottles at your picnic is a bonus - but we prefer the Spyderco single-hand opening/pocket-clip folding knives for our day-to-day AND travel uses. Like cutting that string, slicing that lemon, removing that price tag, and fighting off those wild boars and killer "amok-style" clowns, etc.

5. "Luon"

Can you say comfortable, low-maintenance, easy-care, easy-wash, quick-drying, moisture-wicking (and did I mention comfortable already?) sweats with brand-name cachet? Yes you can!

Although I am still deeply disturbed by the unreasonably high prices, dubious moisturizing claims and the suspiciously cult-like "manifestos" and "employee motivational" practices of Lululemon, clothes made from their "Luon" fabrics are really comfortable and travel-friendly. And a lot of their clothes are so well cut and flattering they can double as tango wear (although some people would be greatly disappointed at their lack of sequins and fringes).

6. One-handed automatic open AND close umbrella

I know that a head-to-toe "Luon" travel outfit is quick-drying, but "quick" does not mean necessarily mean "immediate", and two hours of squelching in wet sweats and Crocs after a torrential downpour may be a little too much of an "invitation to pneumonia" for anyone's liking.

We got our one-handed automatic open and close umbrella at Mark's Work Wearhouse - smooth opening and closing action, sturdy construction, generous canopy - at a very reasonable price.

Because the last thing you would want while dragging your Eagle Creek luggage on and off the bus/train/taxi, rolling up your pants legs and fighting off hoards of wild boars and "amok-style" clowns with your pocketknife is ten rounds of mortal combat with your umbrella:


MIM Tango said...

You guys are just too damn funny!! Your post is excellent and thanks for the "homage" and kind wishes.

Our Gringo Gear is slowly coming together. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Eagle Creek is indeed fantastic... We'll be looking for more of their gear.

Completely agree with you on the Lulu clothes. I've slowly been acquiring some pieces for the trip (Over-priced - What do you mean? $110 is completely acceptable for a pair of yoga pants!?).

Where the heck do you get a Pac-Safe?! I want one of those!

Crocs - check! Jorge has the flip-flop style and i have the Mary Jane style. So ours are just slightly less hideous than the original style :)

Knife - check (kind of). A swiss army with only a small knife and wine bottle opener... should do the trick right?

... must... go... shopping... :)


Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear J & K,

We're glad you got most of your gear together, and overjoyed that there's some other people in the universe who is willing to share in our sometimes dorky/nerdy appreciation of Eagle Creek/Crocs/Lululemon!

We get our Pac-Safe at Le Baron outdoor stores - locations are listed at their rather simplistic website at We go to the Markham store, but there are stores in Mississauga and Ottawa as well. They have a great collection of Spyderco and other knives. Man Yung can stand in front of their knives case FOR HOURS, drooling over the selection.

The Pac-Safe website itself lists the following travel stores as retailers of their products:

Europe Bound
Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Marathon Sports Ltd.
Taylor's Outdoor gear

I think that all the above stores are located either on Front Street or on King Street.

Happy (and safe) travels!

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