Packing for an 18-Day Vacation: Doomsday Preppers

Have y’all seen this new NatGeo show, Doomsday Preppers? It’s about these crazy people who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it by stockpiling food and other products, sharpening their survival skills and basically, polishing their guns.

Doomsday preppers

That’s basically how my travel-buddy-for-life XFE and I prepare for a trip.

We are not the kind of people that show up at a hotel and realize that we don’t have a corkscrew and a collapsible cooler. Yes, those are actual items on our packing list, a list that, by the way, is quite exhaustive and thorough. We’re very, very prepared. Outfits are tried on, arguments are had, tears flow and eventually, a suitcase (or three per person) is packed.

(In my defense, I used to travel with a toothbrush and a change of clothes. But to be fair, the way I travel now is completely different from the poor-hostel-staying-student I used to be. And my luggage is much, much nicer.)

Anyway, I just got hooked on Doomsday Preppers recently. I’ve watched two episodes and I must say, it is quite impressive. In each episode, you meet a couple of different preppers, who run you through what their doomsday theories are. They run the gamut from the collapse of civilization from a financial meltdown to natural disasters such as electric magnetic pulses from the sun.

Then they have experts assess their preparations. Which is my favorite part. Basically, these experts point out holes in the preppers plans and inevitably, the preppers are totally defensive and claim that they had already thought of that and they couldn’t share ALL of their plans with the TV crew because that would be stupid.

Prepper two
“I know I’m overweight and won’t fit into a bug out shelter, but what you don’t know is that my bones are collapsible.”

It’s all got me thinking…..maybe these loonies are right. I’m really starting to wonder if maybe XFE and I should be preparing for the ultimate worst. The show plays into my paranoia fears big time.

But the big thing that’s got me losing sleep these days is not Armageddon– it’s how to pack for an 18-day trip. I can pack for a 7-day trip in the blink of an eye. I love to pack. I see it as a personal challenge — me against limited luggage space.  But 18 days?? That’s a stretch even for my packing skills.

We’re not they pack-light-just-bring-a-carry-on type of people. XFE and I have status on United and don’t have to pay baggage fees so we always check bags. Plus, we’re flying first class, so we’re not really worried about airline baggage issues. But, we do have to haul our crap all over Australia, at the end of the day.


There are other reasons this trip is different. We’re basically moving the entire time, including a 10-hour layover in Munich on the way to Australia. Currently, Munich is a balmy 20 degrees. Australia, meanwhile, is basking in the final days of summer. So while we need coats in Munich, we will not need them in Australia. Far from it.

And, since we are on the move from Sydney, to Cairns (and a dive boat), to Adelaide (and a car to the Barossa wine region), back to Sydney, and on to Bangkok before coming home, I’d have to carry a coat that I used exactly 10 hours for a subsequent 17 days.

Finally, this trip involves a variety of different activities. There’s days in the city, days in the mountains, days in a rainforest, days on a boat, days in the wine country, time on a wildlife preserve.

Plus, since we’re celebrating my 40th birthday, there’s a lot of celebratory dinners, and even an ambitious plan to go “clubbing” as the kids call it. Since we don’t go out to dinner very often, it’s still a special occasion for us. And, well, we go to dinner at nice places, with wine lists and tasting menus, and we don’t show up in jeans. And by the way, what do the kids wear to go clubbing these days anyway??

Old People Clubbing
Oh, well those outfits don’t look like they take up much space.

So, between my lack of an end-of-days plan and a workable vacation wardrobe plan, I’m losing a lot of sleep, exacerbating my insomnia. Many, MANY hours were spent over the past week trying to work out the magical packing formula for this challenging trip.

Should I just take my normal one-week formula of three of everything (three t-shirts, three button ups, three jeans, etc.) and multiply it by three weeks? One blog recommended taking a shirt per day and half as many bottoms, but where do shirt dresses fit in to that formula? And what about cardigan sweaters and jackets? Do those count towards the shirt-per-day limit? Why isn’t there a packing matrix out there anywhere??

travel planner
The anal-ness of this travel planner is right up my alley.

However, always the voice of reason XFE talked me off the ledge this weekend, pointing out that at least six days of our trip are travel days, so I could just focus on coming up with a good, workable travel outfit and wearing that every time I get on a plane, which is basically every three days.

Option 1
Cute option fom
Option 2
Another option.

Then, once you take out the days on the boat (which just require bathing suits, cover ups and a pair of shorts, really), there’s really only about 9-10 days to plan around. A much more manageable amount for an overplanning overpacker such as myself.

We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll continue to lose sleep over the whole enterprise and researching ridiculously, including frequent check ins with

Do you guys have any unique tips for packing? How many outfits would you take on an 18-day trip? What should I do about Munich? And have you seen Doomsday Preppers? How freaked out are you about the end of the world?

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