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Canada Train Trip & Tom Binh Bags

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    Canada Train Trip & Tom Binh Bags

    Mid-fall, I'm going on an 11-day trip to Canada. Flying from Birmingham, AL to Toronto (with a plane change in Atlanta). A day and a half in Toronto, and then I board The Canadian for a 4-night, 3 1/2 day trip across Canada to Vancouver. Will meet a friend in Vancouver and be there for 5 1/2 days, then fly back to Birmingham (change planes in Denver).

    I really would like to do this trip with no more than my beautiful red Aeronaut 45 and my MCB for the personal item. Have ordered an Aeronaut 30 and would be even more delighted if I could make it my carry-on. I usually use a wheeled carry-on bag, but even my lightest one is hard for me to lift over my head and I don't like to ask for help getting something stowed!! The Aeronaut is easier for me to lift. I'm early 70s, used to traveling internationally and by myself, and am still in good enough physical condition that I don't have a problem wearing a bag on my back for an hour or so at a time. On the train I will have a "cabin for one", sometimes known as a "roomette" -- small but it does have a high shelf where a bag can be stowed.

    I have culled my packing list several times already (yeah, I know it's early but when I'm not actually traveling I pack or think about packing!). Have the packed weight down to 16.5lbs. in the Aeronaut 45 -- almost exactly 10% of my body weight. Most of what I'm taking I've travelled with before and know it works well, is comfortable, will dry overnight, etc. etc. But if it would be helpful I can post my packing list.

    Would especially love to hear any feedback, suggestions, experiences you have had riding the train in Canada and recommendations about Vancouver, since I'll have several days there. Also, thoughts about whether I might get what's currently in the A45 into the A30 (A45 is not stuffed), for those of you who have both Aeronauts?

    Yes, please post your packing list. If you can give approximate sizes of garments and shoes, that's even better.


      Canada train trip packing list (after 3 edits):
      2 bottoms: IB Villa pants, black Hue jeggings
      7 tops: 3 long-sleeved knit shirts: (IB magenta, IB purple stripe, Patagonia black t-neck); 3/4 sleeve tunic (IB gray); short-sleeve v-neck tee (IB black);
      2 tanks for layering: (black/grey/magenta IB, purple striped Smartwool)
      Hoodie (IB magenta striped)
      Jacket (purple leather; will wear over tank & hoodie on the plane)
      Raincoat: Lightweight black Columbia trench w/ hood + IB ball cap to wear under hood
      2 shoes: black Keen Presidios wear on plane, black Camper Peu flats (both women's size 9.5); 1 pr Old Navy flip-flops for showers on train & for hotel rooms
      4 pr. "unders" (3+1 spare)
      3 bras (1 sport, 2 tank-bras)
      2 pr wool socks
      2 pr nylon knee-highs
      1 set Smartwool longies (for cold & train sleeping)
      1 pr lightweight cotton PJs
      Tiny nylon stuff sac for charger & cords, camera charger, backup battery pack.
      TB small stuff sack #1 with "if it's really cold" items: cashmere infinity scarf (very light, very warm), earmuffs, merino gloves)
      TB clear 3-1-1 bag for liquids (face wash, moisturizer, face serum, &
      TB medium OP for non-liquid toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, crystal deodorant, etc.). Spare pair of readers in this bag too.
      TB medium OP as "first aid & meds" bag (I'll have the things I take daily already sorted into two Sun-Sat pill holders, with copies of prescriptions in my MCB).
      Lightweight nylon duffel bag that folds into its own tiny stuff sack (about 3" tall and 2" diameter) as a just-in-case.

      In the MCB I'll carry my iPad mini with its Logitech ultralight keyboard, my Kindle Paperwhite (much prefer to read books on the Kindle even though I could use the iPad), my RFID wallet/passport holder, a Canon XXX Elph camera, my iPhone, my small Hobonichi planner/journal and a pen, my reading/knitting glasses, and my knitting (most likely a pair of socks). Will also have a medium TB OP in there with copies of my itinerary, flights info, hotels info, etc. folded in half.

      Clothing is women's size L & XL. I am not petite! IB = Icebreaker brand merino wool.
      Every item of clothing goes with every other item and all but jeggings can be washed and dried overnight. I've traveled in the jeggings many times and often wear them 4-5 days, which is half this trip. I alternate days for bottoms anyway. Both pairs of shoes are very well broken-in, and the walking shoes are waterproof as well; flats have rubber soles & can handle rain if necessary.


        I think you could get everything into the A30 but it will be a squeeze. While I don't think your list is insane, here is what I would take out:
        2 shirts
        1 tank top
        Knee highs (don't seem to really fit with the rest of your wardrobe?)
        PJs (wear tank and Smartwool bottoms instead?)

        I think that if you are comfortable with doing a titch of laundry once on the train, you could pack fewer items. These are just suggestions because your list already looks quite good!



          @greywriter, you are living my dream! I would love to take a long train trip! Heck, I'd love to take a short one. I'm trying to organize a trip from Maysville/Cincinnati to Chicago in September but have to drive 90 miles to get to the nearest train station and that's killing the romance of traveling by train. *shakes tiny fist at The Man* Why oh why does this country hate rail travel so much? Can't we just pretend "Atlas Shrugged" was never written and copy the Europeans?
          Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


            Badger, all good suggestions. Knee-highs are to wear w/ flats but I will drop one pair 'cause they wash easily & dry fast. PJs are because I'll be sharing a room in Vancouver & they are more modest & more comfy for lounging around. Don't mind at all washing something out on the train so I'll think about which shirts I might eliminate. Thanks for the input!
            Janine, does the fact that I have a packing list 10 weeks out tell you how excited I am about this trip?? I adore train travel -- did a lot if it as a WWII kid, as a younger adult when I lived in California, and in Europe -- but this trans-Canada trip has been in my bucket list for years. I want to ride the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, too -- just not this year:-). I do hope you get to do some train travel soon!


              Welcome to our fair country!

              I've lived in Canada for a good 2/3rds of my life now and have always wanted to take the train across. There's just something romantic about the riding the train straight across the Prairies, over the Rockies, and down to Vancouver.

              What are your plans for your short stay in Toronto?

              What kinds of things do you want to do in Vancouver? If the weather is nice, i'd recommend either walking or renting a bike to take around Stanley Park. You can also catch a shuttle bus up to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is a fun afternoon if you're up for a really long suspension bridges a couple hundred feet above a river, cliffwalks (on a bridge, totally safe), some natural history/wildlife, and some First Nations totems. Heading up into the mountains is also really beautiful. The Peak 2 Peak gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb mountain (or vice versa) is the longest and highest gondola in the world.

              One thing not to do? Do not got to East Hastings. We made the mistake of walking through East Hastings to go to our cruise ship (which almost everyone advised against doing FYI) at some far off pier. That was... colourful to say the least.
              Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

              Want: EVERYTHING.


                Originally posted by greywriter View Post
                Janine, does the fact that I have a packing list 10 weeks out tell you how excited I am about this trip?? I adore train travel -- did a lot if it as a WWII kid, as a younger adult when I lived in California, and in Europe -- but this trans-Canada trip has been in my bucket list for years. I want to ride the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, too -- just not this year:-). I do hope you get to do some train travel soon!
                That is exactly the trip I want to take! I've never been to Seattle (or anywhere in the Pacific NW) but I hope to get there someday.

                And 10 weeks out is not too early to work on your packing list. You have plenty of time to refine and fine-tune and to me, that's a big part of the fun of taking a trip!
                Last edited by Janine; 07-30-2014, 08:20 PM.
                Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


                  Itsablur, I'll have a Hop-On Hop-Off bus pass for both cities (two day pass in Vancouver) so in Toronto I plan to just hop on and ride till I see something interesting! Might go up in the CN Tower to get a bird's eye view, and I think there's an art museum downtown not far from the train station? I really like just walking, seeing neighborhoods, people-watching, stopping for tea & journaling or sketching. Can I do that sort of thing safely near downtown? I'm not much of a night owl and may just have dinner at my hotel (the Fairmont Royal York, which I understand has some interesting history). Any other suggestions?

                  My must-do in Vancouver is to ride the ferry over to Victoria, see the Gardens, and have tea at The Empress; I was in Vancouver in the early 70s for a conference on the UBC campus but never got to Victoria. Stanley Park, definitely, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge sounds great if my friend is up for it. I remember being mightily impressed by totems somewhere on the UBC campus - a sort of outdoor museum? - and would like to learn more about The First Nations cultures. I do hope the weather is nice and would appreciate any insight you can give me on how rainy or cold it could be in either city in mid-October!


                    Sounds like a wonderful trip! I've lived in Canada all my life and never taken the train anywhere. I'll have to put this on my bucket list.


                      If/when you hop over to Victoria on the ferry, be sure to make time for a visit to the Natural History Museum, just a stone's throw from the Empress Hotel. There is a beautiful, sensitive, and well-curated First Nations exhibit there. It will fill your cup.
                      The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.


                        Re: weather...it's hard to tell. We are having an unusually warm, dry summer in the NW (and I include Vancouver/Victoria in the Pacific NW).
                        The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.


                          Oops...I pressed something before I finished my post. Daytime temps could range anywhere from 50's to high 70's, low 80's. Nights will be cool, but not freezing, but likely light jacket weather. A few days before you leave home, check for an extended forecast so you can tweak your clothing list. I imagine it's generally so much warmer where you live and you might find our temps a little chilly, but hopefully refreshing.
                          The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.


                            Just a note about the train from someone who worked for the railway for a number of years: don't be surprised by delays. The Canadian can be (and often is) held up by a number of issues that can result in you being late getting to your destination. Just think of how much ground (and how many different kinds of terrain) it covers between Toronto to Vancouver!

                            I'm sure you will be fine (and Via will never leave you stranded), but be aware that it can happen. People tend to be surprised (and stressed) when these things happen, but instead of being stressed, just take it as one of the charms of rail travel over several thousand kms!

                            As for visiting Vancouver, the suggestions above are good ones, and I would add going to Granville Island if you like artsy things, and maybe walking along Kitsilano Beach (nice walk on south side of English Bay).

                            Victoria is worth the trip, too (possibly overnight, if you don't want to be rushed). The Natural History Museum is great, as is the Inner Harbour, and walking through Beacon Hill Park/along Dallas Road. The ferry ride there is part of the experience, too.

                            Nights will be cool (high 40s, low 50s), and I would be prepared for rain (although you may not get it). Victoria gets less rain than Vancouver, but it can have a fresh breeze off the ocean. Octobers can be beautiful and (Canadian) warm, though (70s). You never can tell!

                            If you need more specific advice, let me know. It's been a while since I left the area, but I can help with some things. Otherwise, enjoy your trip!

                            Chris (in Ottawa, but missing home)


                              This trip is going on my wish list, too. (I guess I refuse to call it a "bucket list" because that sounds so final.)