Finding My Travel Groove

Today I’m heading to Porto, in the north of Portugal, after spending two lovely days in the university town of Coimbra. 

Since writing my last blog post, I’ve realized my time isn’t as flexible as I thought - I mean, it is, but if I were to pace my trip the way I paced Lisbon and also hit every point that I want to go to, two months from now I’ll still be in Portugal and hopefully I’ll have completed my trip in about 5-10 years. So I do need to pick up the pace at times, and make choices about what’s worth seeing and what isn’t. To help cope with my inevitable missed experiences, I’m keeping a whole separate list of “Places I Missed” on this trip.

I’ve also realized, quite sadly, that my injured wrist isn’t strong enough yet to take photos with my DSLR. So I’ve made the tough decision to not use my DSLR the rest of the time I’m in Portugal - I’m bummed, and it also means that I’m carrying POUNDS AND POUNDS of dead weight, but at least now I won’t be dealing with the daily conversation in my head of “Do I or Don’t I?” with the worry that I’m causing more injury.

I originally planned to do my own laundry while traveling, thinking I’d save a few bucks and figure out which clothes I actually wear/need and which clothes I can leave at home when I make a brief pitstop back in NYC in June. But after doing a trial load yesterday, I can say without hesitation that hand washing is not the right path for me - aside from having poor technique and drenching the whole bathroom in water, the process of washing, and then hoping everything was going to dry before having to repack my bag, was stressful and not worth my time. I would’ve much preferred paying someone 5 euros to stick it in a machine and have it ready for pickup at the end of the day.

But I am definitely learning what I can cull from my bag to save space and weight. I have seven pairs of pants with me - I can get rid of two pairs and bring it down to five. I brought 7-8 shirts. I can probably get rid of one or two. Since I’m resigned to laundry service, I can cull my ten pairs of socks down to seven. Two sports bras instead of three (though I like having color options to I might keep three anyway!) I haven’t used my PJ pants even once yet (shh! Don’t tell anyone in the hostels that) but I think I should keep them around anyway. This may not seem like a lot to get rid of but it’s amazing how much space one shirt or one pair of pants or socks takes up! And I’m going to get a different charging device for my electronics - I usually bring quite a big one so that I can plug in everything at once if I need to, or to create a communal charging station for everyone when there’s only one outlet, but so far I’ve barely used it and can easily get away with something that has two outlets and a couple of USB ports.

I’ve also been inspired (thanks to a friend back home and an interesting convo I had in Lisbon) to stop using shampoo and conditioner. I’m going to cut out the shampoo first and see how that goes, and then if my curly, oft-knotted hair can handle it, I’m going to get away from the conditioner too. I’ll save more money, space, time, and hopefully end up with better hair out of it! Though I am skeptical - will keep you posted.

I also love love love my travel towel that I bought at REI (thanks to my awesome friend Jen for the suggestion!) - most hostels I’ve been in provide towels for free, but I’ve been to hostels that don’t even have towels for rent (wtf?) and you just never know when you’ll need one anyway. I do wish they’d make one just a bit bigger - when I wrap it around my body after a shower it barely covers me from my nips down to the tops of my thighs. I tend to care about these things less when I’m traveling so nbd, but it does leave me feeling a bit chilly when I step out of the shower.

Other things I’m happy I brought: tissues; water bottle (zero plastic bottles used so far!); journal; and lavender essential oil, which is my happy place. As I sit here typing and watching the rain pour down outside the windows of my hostel, I’m also quite pleased that I managed to squeeze a rain jacket into my bag.

It’s been exactly a week since I touched down in Lisbon last Thursday - I think one more week before I have my logistics down and can start focusing more on where I’ve been and where I’m going. Pois é.

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