I am faced today with the Christmas gifts we are unable to take with us from our Christmas Day in Wisconsin and the need to be packing for Central America. This is the nightmare of everyone on a family travel. Luxury travel experts believe that anyone on a single parent travel should be prepared for such eventualities. Such a sad moment but we will get a way around it.
We each get only 23 kg of luggage to Central America, yet we want to keep all of our Christmas gifts, and we mainly bought small souvenirs and a lot of Christmas decorations that portrayed the place where purchased. We kept and saved as gifts.
The weather in Central and South America is going to be mainly humid, so most of our winter clothes are not needed. When traveling to South America we suggest buying on arrival so packing for Central America need not be so bulky.
Markets and clothes stores are less expensive and make an interesting adventure. Shopping is always fun when you travel.
So today I am writing with a Sharpie pen on the bottom of each Christmas decoration as to which town & country it was purchased, and the year. By the time we settle somewhere at the end of this trip, we should have an around the world Christmas Tree! I think that is cool.
My son has enjoyed secretly buying me all sorts of little things and likewise, I did the same. We actually got a lot of cool decorations in Thrift stores. We found stopping at a thrift store was a good way to break up the travels and to buy things we could discard or give to needy in our random acts of kindness as we travel.
What we have so far
An Amish wooden star that pops out is a lovely one. A little Pennsylvania church was just one I recall. Key rings can also be turned into little ornaments and are cheaper than decorations.
As I sort through what winter clothes (we leave behind to give away) I am astounded at how little we have, but at how also it is way over the limit. We will have a change in seasons so we decide to give away nearly all our winter clothes, except we forget we still have days in Chicago (giving away too early was a dumb move).
Posting Boxes back to Australia
We are finished packing for Central America. We have now posted a parcel back to Australia – at over $100 to post, the delivery cost is probably worth more than the contents – but memories are memories. We have posted items back from Fiji and USA already and plan to do this throughout our journey.
We posted parcels from all over the world via the general postage system. Not one was lost!
We have now traveled from Wisconsin to Chicago and we have left behind most of the snow. But as I said, we have also left behind most of our winter clothes.
Our friends have dropped us off – at a huge 5 hours drive each way (God bless them) from Wausau in Wisconsin to near the airport in Chicago.
The hunt for Vegemite
Vegemite is something most Australians love and few Americans know how to eat. It is thinly spread on bread or toast, but we find our USA friends keep trying it with a spoon. We have been informed it is available in a certain brand store here so I also have to go on the hunt for Vegemite whilst in Chicago.
The Vegemite Bomb
We had two jars of it we purchased in Fiji, but they were taken by US Customs in Hawaii. We joke the customs lady wanted it for herself, but she proclaims we could be making a bomb with it – seriously?!.
This customs lady actually allowed me to keep a whole bottle of water but took the Vegemite on the pretense I could have made an explosive from it. I fail to understand her logic.
Sightseeing in Chicago
So now we have a day to sight-see around Chicago and it is freezing cold. Alas – we only have lightweight rain jackets, so we set out and freeze! And I mean it is a groaning that comes from my seven-year-old.
We continue our hunt for Vegemite. We are told of two stores and head off over the river. Both of them don’t have it – Trader Joes and Whole Foods. But it gives us a good chance to see the city.
It is actually a pretty great city – I would love to visit Chicago in the summer because seeing it half dressed in winter is no fun.
In Chicago downtown area we see quite a few places we recognize from movies too.
There is the Magnificent Mile in the River North neighborhood for example. It is strange as it is January and the Christmas decorations are all still up. It is well worth exploring and an eclectic city in my opinion.
There are a lot of great hotels in Chicago. Choose from retro downtown hotels, airport hotels (like we did) or suburban hotels. Most will run a shuttle bus if they are out of town to the airport too. We loved the classic hotels in Chicago like the Acme Hotel or Hotel Monaco – two iconic locations.
As we have to be up at 4:00 a.m. – it is time for an early night as our flight to Panama is impending. I don’t allow Explorason to use hotel beds as trampolines, but sometimes it’s nice for him to feel tall and look out the window.
We find we have the airport to ourselves like the photo above shows, but it is always exciting.
Exciting times are ahead in Central America and another new country to add to our travel list.
Questions and Comments
Have you ever been to Chicago?
What did you enjoy seeing?
What tips do you have for us when we go back next time?
What do you include when packing for Central America?