Six months. Two backpacks. Hit it.

Well, two backpacks that comprise detachable, zip-off day-packs – so, arguably four backpacks, but we’re choosing not to see things that way.

Regardless we’re off, with what will inevitably be too much stuff. At least —possibly in deference to some imagined admonitory Rick Steves figure — we capitulated to the travelers’ pants. You’ll be familiar with the type: For Kevin, gray ones that zip off at the knee to become shorts, and for me olive green ones that can be rolled up and buttoned into sort of Aladdin pants. (I know. Try and contain your sartorial envy.) I look forward to the moment when I notice a lump deep in the cargo pocket near my left knee and it turns out to be something forgotten and interesting, like a pork rind, or all my spare contact lenses.

We got lucky and all of our flights were safe, on-time and delivered us and our zillion-pound packs to the same place at the same time. (That being Phuket, Thailand.) Other extremely important travel observations: They are bewilderingly generous with the nacho toppings in the international terminal at LAX. You might spend a bunch of time researching the right camera to take on your six-month 'round-the-world trip and then have it develop a lens malfunction before you take a single picture. Sleeping pills are a great way to cope with a flight that your husband wisely did not tell you beforehand would be seventeen hours long. And Thai Airways 1) is very comfortable despite an astonishingly unrestful pink-and-purple cabin color scheme, and 2) has a signature “Thai Airways” eau de toilette available for spritz in the bathrooms. (Unusually for someone who always comes out of Sephora smelling like some weird thing, I abstained.)

While we’re here: You know what is a foolish practice that you should not indulge in? Hoarding and being stingy with your insect repellent out of anxiety that it will eventually run out. You should especially not indulge in this counterproductive activity if you find yourself in the tropical, jungly area near Phuket, Thailand. That said, if you do foolishly under-slather yourself, you can always try compensating by being really, really generous with the Fenistil anti-inflammatory that gel you buy for all your bug bites.

What's six months' worth of bug spray?

Getting ready for six months on the road means a lot of little packing debates. What will be valuable enough to us, and difficult enough to get in other countries, that it's worth adding to the load on our backs? Experienced travelers will say "almost nothing" -- the idea being that most things we'll want, we'll be able to find, and those things we can't find, it'll be good for us to learn to live without. "Too true!" I say to myself every day or so, blithely ignoring a lifetime's worth of fussy materialism. "Two t-shirts and a passport for me!"

Except. There are also experienced travelers who helpfully share the things they couldn't have lived without, or really wished they'd had. A sleeping-bag liner for when sheets are unavailable or suspicious-looking. A headlamp, not just handy when one goes camping, but also when there's a power outage. Dental floss. And for every person who says "Of course you can get dental floss where you're going," there's another who delicately explains that we shouldn't expect other cities to supply the Western comforts we're accustomed to and maybe we should quit imposing our dental expectations on the rest of the world.

And then there are edge cases. Like: Kevin and I each have really big feet. We are borderline flipper people, who have enough trouble finding shoes we like even in the consumer paradise of San Francisco. If this sounds to you like I'm asking permission to pack more shoes -- well, then, I concede that you have met me. But on one trip to Paris a couple of years ago I walked holes in the soles of one of my three pairs of shoes, and a few Parisian salesladies were so sadistically, orgasimically happy to tell me how unavailable my shoe size was in their lovely city that the next time I go to Paris I plan to wear hot pink Crocs just to spite them. Is it worth packing an extra pair of shoes -- even though they take up so much space -- in case our other ones fall apart?

Or, OK, here's another one. I use this special kind of contact lens solution that's basically hydrogen peroxide. It's a pain, but using it put an end to a year's worth of nasty eye infections, so I'm attached to it. It may not be easy or possible to find this stuff in the developing world. But carrying six months' worth of contact solution feels perilously close to packing six months' worth of meals.

Fortunately, the scarcity of time and space will solve this problem. We will run out of minutes in which to have these debates, and backpack space in which to wedge any hotly debated items. Until then, though, I'll be over here determining how many days a one-ounce bottle of DEET is likely to last us.