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What to pack for September in Siberia

This is the Packing Post.

Everyone going on a journey needs a Packing Post, right? I know I looked for other people’s packing posts when I was planning this whole adventure. This post is where I tell you what I’m bringing, and why. (I plan to update this post when I get home with any notes on items I didn’t need–or wished I had.) (And post updated…see below.)

First, here’s our packing and traveling philosophy: Go Light.

I’m doing carry-on bags only. (One roller bag/backpack and one satchel that will double as a purse/day bag.) I expect to be leaving my bags in hotels and at bag checks in train stations, and I expect there to be time when I need to walk a mile or so carrying them. I want to have the ability to walk much further than a mile with my bags, if needed. So I’m taking the Eagle Creek 22″ Lync bag and the REI Serenity Shoulder Bag.

Here is my (probably not quite exhaustive, but close to it) list of everything in these two bags:


  • 3 short sleeve shirts (more than initially planned, because it’s looking warmer than expected, and I sweat when hot).
  • 2 long sleeve shirts.
  • 1 PJ top
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 pair pants that roll up to capris
  • 1 pair stretch/sweat pants (mostly for airplanes and trains)
  • 1 long skirt (needed for orthodox churches, this fits over my pants)
  • 2 bras
  • 5 pairs underwear
  • 5 pairs hiking socks
  • 1 pair hiking boots
  • 1 pair shower sandals (for the train)
  • 1 light sweater (last minute addition due to warmer weather than anticipated)
  • 1 fleese jacket
  • 1 down jacket (disposable–most likely to be wanted in Mongolia) [And ditched before I left the U.S.]
  • warm hat (doubting I’ll need it at this point)
  • gloves (doubting I’ll need these, either)
  • scarf (need this for church if not for warmth)

Here it is: my suitcase, and everything that goes in it.


  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Face lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick (several)
  • 11 individually wrapped ShowerPill wet wipes
  • 2nd Skin blister pads
  • A few band aids.
  • Camping toilet paper–just in case


  • iPad with keyboard case (on which I am composing this and all future trip-written posts)
  • iPhone (probably to be off and stowed for most of the trip)
  • Kindle (fully stocked)
  • Camera (I’m taking the Canon PowerShot G16, which is a few years old)
  • Extra battery and memory card for my camera
  • Bose noise canceling headphones
  • An adapter that I think will work in Russia
  • Various cables and charging devices needed for the above (but only ONE charger)

Here’s my day bag, which is small enough that I can pop it in my suitcase if I need to. (Note: iPad and iPhone didn’t make it into the picture, but they’ll definitely make it into the bag!)

Other Stuff

  • A different sort of money belt.
  • 6 or so protein bars
  • A spork
  • Sunglasses
  • Hair ties and bands to hide dirty hair
  • A mug/canteen (for tea, noodles, and any other beverages on the train)
  • A guide book, a tiny book on the history of Budhism, and a book on Zanabazar (more on that in a future post)
  • A couple of pens and a small notebook
And that, my friends, is it.
Hopefully I’m not missing anything.
Note: My traveling companion is packing a knife, so I don’t have to.

Post-Trip Update

All right folks, here are my retrospective thoughts on packing.

First and foremost, I packed for fall/winter and should have packed for summer. We had sunny, clear skies and toasty temps pretty much until Moscow, so I would have been find with ONE long sleeve shirt and more warm weather clothing. My summer travel outfits generally also include a nice pair of walking sandals and a cooler skirt, which would have been incredibly welcome. (The skirt I did bring, while it came in handy for churches, wasn’t something I was prepared to wear with bare legs and hiking boots. Maybe if I’d packed tights, but I didn’t.)

Also, although much of the time I was glad for my roller bag, there were also moments where I would have preferred a backpack bag like Steve’s. I’m on the fence regarding which I’d choose if I were planning the trip again today.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • At some point I had a travel towel in my assortment of things to pack, but it was left behind. (Not purposefully.) I wished I’d had it.
  • I used the spork a couple of times, but it was awkward. I’d have been fine with a small fork, really.
  • I brought cash, planning to use it when I needed local currency and so avoid too many dings from the bank when getting cash out of an ATM. In the end though I had more trouble exchanging cash than I expected. I guess the world has changed. In retrospect, I’ve have spent some time finding a bank that would give me free ATM withdrawals internationally, and not brought nearly so much cash.
  • I never cracked that book on Buddhism….although it was light so it’s not like it took up much space.
  • I didn’t bring much in the way of a skin care regimen, and I should have. I am still (two weeks after returning home) trying to get breakouts under control. (My skin is a bit more sensitive than I would like to admit, and so didn’t do well with hotel soap and shower pills.)