I’ve been back in the United States for six days. Yet at the current moment, I’m sitting on a bus from Pittsburgh headed to New York. And in about ten hours, I’ll be on a plane to Guatemala (country number twenty)! I’m meeting Audrey there, my first Couchsurfer who stayed with me in Ireland and fellow adventuring friend. I bought a one-way ticket and all I really know is we’ll be making our way from Guatemala down to Costa Rica through Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It’s been an interesting week, that’s for sure. I arrived in JFK from Shannon, Ireland, Wednesday afternoon and took various trains to get to New Jersey. A friend picked me up and took me to my car, which was in Pennsylvania. I then drove the five or so hour drive to Pittsburgh, the city I “moved” to but had never actually been. Of course it was during one of the worst storms I have ever had the pleasure of driving through; by the time I arrived, I had been up nearly twenty-eight hours. The next few days were a whirlwind, consisting of unpacking everything from the move, unpacking everything from Ireland (to be fair though, it was only a backpack), repacking for Central America and making sure I had everything I would need while there.

With some help from Adam, late last night I had everything that I would be needing together.

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The pile includes from far left clockwise:

– an umbrella
– make-up/toiletries bag
– poncho
– five pairs of shorts
– two t-shirts
– sleeping mat
– two microfiber towels
– pair of sunglasses
– sleeping eye mask
– padlock and key
– Lifestraw (don’t drink the water!)
– ear buds
– “cracked” phone (essentially, an international phone)
– flashlight
– money belt (I used to make so much fun of people who used these, but I definitely want to keep my passport safe, so I’m jumping on board that train)
– Spanish pocket guide
– passport
– Dell Inspiron laptop
– light jacket
– long-sleeved thermal tee
– six pairs of socks (non-cotton)
– swimsuit
– five tank tops
– pair of leggings
– scarf/skirt/light towel/purse (I’ve used this in particular for a multitude of different things)
– travel book and pen
– toiletries (two mouthwashes, two hair mousse containers, two shampoos, one conditioner, sunscreen, face wash, lotion, toothpaste and Neosporin)
– toothbrush (and cover)
– cotton pads (these are great because they’re lightweight, disposable and can be used in the place of a washcloth)
– Advil
– three sink-stoppers (necessity for Hostels)

The things not pictured are chargers (laptop, phone and camera), undergarments, a brush, two flips flops, one pair of sneakers, a small blanket (thanks, Delta!), the tiny brown backpack that goes on every trip abroad I take (it has double zippers, meaning it locks – invaluable!) and obviously the camera that took this photo. ;)

Audrey has a converter and plenty of bug spray that I can use when I arrive.

With the exception of the electronics, the travel book and my passport, I could care less if I come back home with any of this. Well, and perhaps the sleeping mat. Audrey might not appreciate me ditching that. :) That’s one amazing and also one depressing thing about traveling. Whatever you bring, you’re going to be carrying it on your back. So the more stuff that’s loaded in means more weight and less room for cool things you might randomly pick up along the way.

Believe it or not, everything fit in the backpack. Since I’m flying Spirit, I can bring one “personal item” on board for free. However, that personal item must be no more than 16 x 14 x 12, and my backpack it slightly more than that. If it doesn’t fit in the baggage slot, the fee is a whopping $100 at the gate (it’s less if you purchase online or at the check-in counter, but who wants to pay for a carry-on backpack at all?). With that said, I may end up looking like a crazy person boarding the plane. Leaving Spain with Ryanair, I wore multiple shirts, jackets and stuffed my pockets full – and it was nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But, it worked. :) So I may be doing the same thing this time. Either way, I’m sure it will be an interesting flight to Guatemala.

Anyhow, I’ve rambled long enough. I should probably attempt to sleep. Of course, in the midst of the craziness, I walked out without my laptop charger. The bus arrives in New York shortly after midnight, then I’m making my way to the 24-hour Best Buy in Manhattan to buy another charger, then catching a series of buses and such to get to LaGuardia hopefully somewhere around 2. Since this is my first international flight with Spirit, I have to check-in with the desk, which of course doesn’t open until 4. Then my flight leaves just before 7 am. I’m sure all of this will definitely make for a great story later, but it makes for a long night tonight.

Since my trip to Europe and Central America are back-to-back, Ireland adventures will be posted in between. :) See ya’ll on the other side, in Guatemala!

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