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July 14, 2009

Packing a Suitcase for Grymm and Frostbitten Lands

Grymm and Frostbitten Lands, Tr00 Metal Life

I’m struggling.

On Sunday I leave New Zealand with my husband and two awesome friends on a three month epic metal journey through Europe and the Middle East. I’m living in a campervan for eight weeks and in tourist hotels for the last month. We’re travelling during the European summer / spring, but we’ll be crossing over into the Arctic Circle, so I’ll need to keep warm. I need to be aptly dressed for two metal festivals, one hippy festival, and four Muslim countries. I need to not forget anything, but leave enough room for all the new clothes and presents I plan on buying.

I’m not new at this – I’ve been away on long trips before, but I struggled then, too. Once I even left my wallet behind (true story). As I’ve been foraging around my room trying to decide what to bring, I’ve come up with a few tips for other would-be metal travelers. Towards the end of my trip, I might revisit my tips in another blog post and tell you which ones were utter crap.

steff-metal-pirate-suitcase-bear

Packing A Suitcase for Grymm and Frostbitten Lands

    Much of what you pack depends on what you know for certain you are doing. A romantic weekend away and a month touring different metal festivals around Europe require completely different packing régimes (or exactly the same régime, if touring metal festivals is your idea of a romantic getaway).
    For about a month before I go away I keep a packing list handy, and I add items to it as I think of them. This is because I’m a forgetful person and I need to be super organized or else I forget important things, like my wallet (true story).

    Metal shirts:

    I choose mine extremely carefully, to ensure I have a shirt for every occasion. I take one classic metal shirt – usually an Iron Maiden one – that’s pretty much universally accepted. Next, I pack a death or black metal shirt for the underground gigs, where the important thing is that no one can read the logo on the back. I need a long-sleeve for snuggling into on a cold night. Finally, I choose a fitted, girly-style tee for when I want to look metal but don’t want to have anyone mistake me for a boy.

    My husband has a much simpler solution. He takes the top five t-shirts from the stack in his drawer, and packs those. He’s a big, scary-looking bogan, so he could probably wear a Hammerfall shirt to a Cephalic Carnage gig and no one would question his kreigness.

    I pack at least ONE ‘safe for church’, non-metal outfit, because sometimes you just need to blend in. I force my husband to pack his only non-black t-shirt.

    Skirts:

    I take my favorite GLP skirt (with the cute red tartan) everywhere, because I just love it. Since I’m loving skirts at the moment I might take one or two others – one long, one colored.

    Footwear:

    I’m taking my steel-caps (essential metal travel companions) and my New Balance sneakers. I love owning black sneakers because if I wear then under pants no one notices they’re sneakers. CDH is taking his steel-caps only.

    Drinking Horn:

    Many countries maintain strict guidelines on importing animal products, including horn. Don’t risk losing your precious horn – buy a cheapo one at the festival instead.

    Bathroom goodies:

    Take bottles of the shampoo / conditioner you like – I bet you millions they won’t stock it in Scandinavia. I always take antibacterial wipes and Clearasil face wipes (instead of a cream. The less things I have to spill – the better) and shower soap in a tube, not a bar (bars melt and get smushed).

    ALWAYS take sunscreen. I didn’t bring any to Greece because it was SUPPOSED to be winter – bah. I toasted in the worst heatwave for twenty years and the only sunscreen I could find was medicated stuff from a Chemist for seventy million dollars.

    Pack liquids in your checked luggage – the new EU laws don’t allow you to carry liquids into the cabin. This is another occasion where Clearasil face wipes work magic – you can take them in your carry on to wipe your face after your delicious meal.

    I always pack hayfever medicine, neurofen, throat lozenges, cold / flu medicine and my mini first-aid kit. That should cover most of your travel-related ailments.

    Misc:

    Check the power outlets / voltage for the areas you’re visiting. If you have well-travelled friends, ask them if you can borrow their converters.

    Pack a travel clothesline and a small container of washing powder. You will probably be doing lots of hand washing in hotel sinks or buckets.

    Take about $500 worth of local cash to start you off, a credit card and an alternative means of getting money – a cashpoint card, debit card, Travelex, etc. Store both cards in different places.

    Don’t forget chargers for cameras, iPods and cellphones. Bring spare batteries for shavers and electric toothbrushes.

    Add a badge or keyring to your bag so you can recognize it on the belt. I’m always so fearful of someone walking off with my bag. Don’t add a special keyring you’re not afraid to lose – as they can get snagged on other bags and rip off.

    The test for deciding about jewelry – other precious items is the ‘how much will I cry if I lose this’ test. I even take my wedding ring off when I travel. The chances of me losing my perfectly fitting ring are slim, but if I DID lose it … the tears would drown the world. So I don’t take it.

    However, I am wearing a replacement wedding ring on my ring finger so people know I’m married (we’re travelling in the Middle East).

    Entertainment:

    I bring one book per trip which I either take from our bookshelf or buy in advance. I don’t buy books at the airport as they’re ridiculously overpriced and I get ‘book eyes’ from looking at all the choices. I normally take airy-fairy, enjoyable reads like Terry Pratchett or Sophie Kinsella or Wilbur Smith or Clive Cussler. Often, I bring books I’ve read before, because it’s my holiday and I’m relaxing, NOT learning about trench warfare or struggling through Proust.

    Our campervan has a CD player, so CDH and I wrangled our way through out 700 + CDs and chose around 80 that we’re taking with us. I’ve left all my Nick Cave at home. We’re only got TWO Manowar albums, FIVE Blind Guardian albums, ONE Amon Amarth and ONE Opeth.

Overkill? We think not.

Super Snuggles and Shoggoth Kisses
Steff