Ushuaia: Glacier Martial

After a short few days in Buenos Aires in January, it was already time for us to pack up and head on a plane to the very southern tip of the world: Ushuaia.

When we first got to town and to our very basic airbnb, I was a little worried if it had really made sense coming allll the way down south. At first glance, the town was pretty underwhelming, quite cold compared to Buenos Aires for “high summer”, and I was worried that there wouldn’t be much to do considering how little we had researched this place before hastily booking flights in our December madness. Thankfully, it was definitely worth it!When we woke up the next morning and went to breakfast with the other guests, we realized they were Swiss. Yep. We traveled all the way to the bottom of the world and the first people we met were Swiss German. Go figure.They gave us a couple tips though, and before we knew it, we’d grabbed our daypacks and some supplies and headed off to Glacier Martial.Boy, after all the stress, STRESS, of Kay’s graduation, moving back home, packing up our whole life, haphazardly planning a trip of a lifetime, and a whole lot of computer stress, it felt GOOD to get out there and hike. It heals the soul.The glacier also gave us the first taste of just how stunning Patagonia is. I was instantly gratified and Kay, who hadn’t really thought about going to Patagonia before my insistence, was impressed. He was also simply a very, very happy boy to be out in wilderness again.We found the hike to be very easy going and a great reintroduction to our long hiatus while Kay was in school. The hardest part was bearing the freezing glacial wind at the top for photos and a snack.While we did not have a hard time with this hike, it somehow tired us both out a lot. We were pretty out of practice, and the next day I was actually really sore and fatigued. But with real backpacking coming up, I needed to get ready for some serious hiking both physically and mentally!

Argentina: Bus vs plane

Considering that driving to Ushuaia from Buenos Aires via bus takes approximately three continuous days of bus riding, we were very happy to take a 3.5h flight instead. The price made sense too.

(psst, I did it anyway!)

We heard great things about how affordable it is to ride long-haul buses, but when it came down to booking during high season with only a few weeks left and on the spot while in the country, it was expensive! A bus ride might cost $170, while a flight would be $200. Saving $30 to spend a 24-72 hours in a bus suddenly didn’t really make sense, unless we were keen to explore the interiors of Argentinian and Chilean buses, which we actually weren’t.

The problem is that often booking domestic flights in a South American country is more expensive for foreign tourists, and in fact, it sometimes did stop us. From Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and from Bariloche to Buenos Aires cost about $269 per person per flight on Google Flights, but on LATAM’s website, they would double or triple in price if you went to check out. A $240 bus ticket looks very different compared to either a $269 or $750 plane flight.

How did I get around this? Well, even though LATAM is a member of Oneworld, their flights show up in Delta (Skyteam alliance) flight searches. For whatever reason, I could look up the flights directly on the Delta site and purchase them there for the same price as in Google Flights, and I could not do this on the LATAM site. Even better was that I am still a Oneworld gold member, so I got some more upgrades and lounge access for us. (Just kidding, there is no lounge in Buenos Aires or Ushuaia or Bariloche! Hahaha. But it did get us priority boarding.)

Unfortunately, this didn’t work when I was looking to book Aerolingus tickets from El Calafate to Bariloche, so we ended up buckling down for a 24h ride from El Chalten to Bariloche, which ended up being like 26h. It was not a great day, but the bus tickets were still a lot cheaper than a $800-900 plane ticket.

We ended up flying down to Ushuaia, taking the bus to Puerto Natales in Chile to visit Torre del Paine, then to El Calafate, El Chalten and Bariloche before flying back to Buenos Aires from Bariloche.FWIW, it’s not fun traveling as a celiac on buses. They do not provide any special food for you at all, you just receive the pitiful “meal” above: a sandwich, bread-thing, and cookie. There is no opportunity to get off the bus during stops, so you need to bring enough food and drink for the entire journey. Also, they only provided this crappy meal twice, and one cookie for breakfast, so Kay was pretty hungry and needed snacks too, even eating double the portions since he got all of my bus food. I’m glad we asked beforehand and that we bought ALLLL the pão de queijo in El Chalten before we left!

The moral of the story is, buy the plane tickets if you can finagle the price. It is worth it, especially on shorter holidays, to see more of the country instead of being cooped up in a bus. If you have several months off and find good bus prices, go for it. Otherwise, fly and don’t regret it!

Packing up our whole life

Neither Kay nor I had ever been professionally, internationally moved, but we plan on leaving Switzerland, so a removals company it was! And knowing I should use this time to cut down on things, I didn’t hesitate to get rid of six bags of old clothing and accessories that we don’t need anymore!
In fact, the whole apartment was kind of a mess for all of November and December as we got things ready to recycle, donate, sell, or throw away. This is what it looked like at Christmas. No tree. 🙁And we filled a rented transport van twice with materials to get rid of.I got a little emotional (and freaked out) by the time the movers arrived. I couldn’t believe that we actually had people here to pack up our house… and I needed to trust them not to break anything! These guys were obviously really experienced packing, but it was still a very whirlwind day, especially because we hadn’t taken down our dining room lamp before they came… so we were unscrewing it as they started moving in with boxes and the lamp somehow swung down unexpectedly when it bumped off one of its screws, smashing our long sought and much beloved pendulums. 🙁

“Selberschuld” – your own fault – as we would say in German… we contacted Philips about the lamp, but it seems they do not sell individual glass covers for the bulbs and the lamp has been discontinued since we bought it. Boo hoo!Still, the day went on and the guys got packed up on that cold day in January.And how emotional I got when our flat emptied! I was not quite ready to let it go… even if this particular flat actually holds some of the worst memories of our lives, from me finding out I have celiac disease, to losing Kay’s mother, to that dark, depressing time with pneumonia and missing Kay while he was away studying.Still, it was our first home we bought together. And that means quite a lot. I could have seen staying here for quite awhile. Maybe not forever, but a good chunk of time enjoying that amazing huge balcony in the summer.

Now all of our stuff is packed up and being stored until who knows when. Two months down the road, I am already a little disconnected with the “physical stuff” we own, but don’t actually seem to need.

Have you ever done a cross-continental or cross-country move? How did it turn out?*

*Please tell me all your stuff didn’t break in transit…

First Stop, South America

It was my idea to head west first to start us off on our travel, aiming towards Japan by cherry blossom time. I really wanted to see the mountains of Patagonia, the rugged landscape. And because almost all flights to Buenos Aires or Santiago from Zurich went through Brazil, it made perfect sense to stop in Sao Paulo for a short time and visit Kay’s Brazilian family.

Even though we had just visited his family at Christmas in 2015, you never know when you can get back again, so we decided we had to visit. And the whole family was sooo happy we decided to!
From Sao Paulo, we picked up a car and stopped at a dear friend of the family’s house for lunch on the way to the small town where most of Kay’s family lives.Eloy gifted us a special Brazilian flag work of art for our wedding back in 2011, and I still had never met him. He was incredibly sweet! And Brazilians are fantastically emotional. He cried and hugged us tightly when we arrived, and then cried again when we left, but not before feeding us until we might explode with the most delicious food you could ever imagine.There is nothing quite like Brazilian hospitality. They are some of the most welcoming, generous, friendly people in the world, and they LOVE to feed you. Below was just a sampling of fruits laying around on Eloy’s counter.When we finally made it to Pirajuí, we were overjoyed to see all of Kay’s aunts and uncles. We stayed with his Tio Tarcísio and Tia Vera. Below is Tio Tarcísio explaining some of the things in his workshop to Kay. He is such a handy, creative soul! He recycles tons of things into new designs and is always dreaming up a use for something else.The best part about their house might be the pool, which in the heat of summer was a.m.a.zing.And who wouldn’t love spending their days in the pool being fed fresh bite-size pieces of churrasco meat off the grill and caipirinha drinks that seem to refill themselves?It’s seriously heaven!!We also arrived right in time for a couple birthdays and managed to go to a family party with children running around in swimwear, jumping in and out of pools.I am still a far way off with my Portuguese, but I noticed a big difference after another year of classes. I could understand a lot more and even start to make very primitive conversation, where I could ask about things like holidays, traveling, the weather, our plans. Basically everybody was asking when we will have children, so I had to be prepared for that question as always!

I was also happy to meet some cousins again that I wasn’t sure if I had met in 2010, but who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Kay has so many cousins! Way more than I do, and all of them are such lovely people.We even had time to visit Kay’s twin cousin in Bauru on the way back to Sao Paulo when our journey was ending.Overall, we were sure that visiting was the right thing to do. Lots of Kay’s aunts and uncles are getting older, much older than his mother was when she passed away and you never know when you will get to see them again, so it was nice to have a good visit.The only thing I might change about our visit here was accidentally leaving my sunglasses in the pool the night before we left when it got dark and there was a crazy bug attack. One week into our 9 month journey and I was already sunglasses shopping in Buenos Aires. 😛

Round the World Pack List

The big question… what do you bring with you on a journey lasting nine months, over four continents, through a myriad of temperatures and activities? Well, I hate to be super Swiss, but we are not as minimalist as I would like… and we brought a lot of stuff that many people leave home for a world trip. Why? Mainly, the answer is camping and diving.

We knew we wanted to trek and camp extensively in Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand, and aside from a few upgrades we decided to make, we owned all our gear. Many RTW pack lists or travel lists compiled by digital nomads say that you only need trainers, or trail runners at best, but if you try hiking in Patagonia without real boots, you’re an idiot. That’s as smart as driving a car in the Domnican Republic without a seat belt and hoping if you crash that your injuries won’t be too bad. If you plan on serious hiking, bring boots.

For diving, this was more of a question, shall we or shall we not buy gear? We plan on diving a lot this year, in the Philippines, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Mauritius, Seychelles, etc… Sure, we could rent our gear each time relatively hassle-free, but that adds up in cost, plus you deal with relearning how the gear operates, rental gear is often broken or poor quality, and considering my bout with pneumonia last year, I thought it would be more prudent for me to use my own regulator if we would be spending a lot of time under water, so we decided to buy BCDs, regulators and octopuses, diving gauges, a wetsuit for me, and dive knives.

So, onto the list!


Katie Clothes:

  • Zip off hiking pants (double as shorts)
  • Puma black workout pants (double as “casual smart” pants)
  • thermal tights (layer under pants or dresses in cold weather, layer under both pants at once for maximum warmth)
  • Travel skirt with pockets
  • 1 Icebreaker dress
  • running shorts
  • Heart rate monitor
  • 2 athletic tanks with built-in bras
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 3/4 sleeve quick-dry travel shirt
  • Thin nightgown (doubles as a shirt on laundry days)
  • Icebreaker cardigan
  • rash guard (doubles as a long sleeve shirt in cold weather)
  • 7 undies
  • 3 hiking socks
  • 3 running socks
  • dry towel (1 big, one small)
  • sarong wrap
  • 1 bra
  • 1 sports bra
  • 2X bikini (Actually brought three because I got some Nallas, which are super thin and dry fast. Couldn’t help it…)
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Teva sandals
  • Cheap target flats that are easy to fold up
  • Gortex rain jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Big red travel scarf (my must for sleeping on planes!)
  • Buff
  • Waterproof gloves (I was devastated to lose one of these brand new, expensive gloves, less than a week into our Patagonian time…)
  • Hat (ended up bringing my running cap)
  • Sun visor

(What could I have cut out? If both my athletic tanks were supportive to run in, or if I had one athletic bra instead of a normal one as well, I could have cut out an extra bra. Technically the nightgown was not mandatory, but if you are sleeping in hostels, sometimes purposeful nightwear is helpful, especially if your only T-shirt is all sweaty. Could have cut out the third swimsuit, even if it is so small and light, or the second swimsuit as well. And I could have skipped my pair of flat shoes, which I stuck in at the end and have only worn once in Brazil so far.

Also, once we landed in NZ, I was a bad girl at the Icebreaker store and bought a second Icebreaker cardigan and another Icebreaker dress because they are styles I love, and a thin Icebreaker T-shirt to hike in because mine is mostly cotton and dries way too slow, but the tank tops chaff my shoulders raw in the pack after several hours hiking.)

Kay Clothes:

  • 2 Hiking pants zip-off
  • Chino pants
  • Icebreaker thermal tights
  • running shorts
  • HRM
  • 1 running t-shirt
  • 1 thin travel cotton t-shirt
  • 1 icebreaker t-shirt light
  • 1 icebreaker t-shirt heavy
  • 1 long sleeve travel shirt
  • 1 thermal turtleneck
  • rash guard
  • 6-10 undies
  • 4 hiking socks
  • 2 normal socks
  • Swim trunks compact and normal size (one he uses for hiking trips and under wetsuits, the other is more manly or something)
  • board shorts (double as normal shorts)
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Barefoot running shoes
  • Havaianas
  • Tevas
  • Casual dress shoes
  • Gortex rain jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Windstopper jacket (doubles as a pullover for him)
  • Gortex pants
  • Arafat Scarf
  • Buff
  • Waterproof gloves (windstopper + gortex)
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Jungle hat
  • 1 baseball cap
  • Ear muff band
  • Warm hat thick

(Oh man, Kay was hard to make pack light. Really struggled. He wanted to take like all the T-shirts on Earth, and he refused to leave his Havaianas at home and take just the Tevas for our river crossings, plus his barefoot shoes cannot double as city shoes so well, so he needed to take some normal shoes, which of course are a million times bigger and heavier than my pair of fold up flats. And his gloves were two separate pairs, one for wind/warmth and one for water, plus his fingerless gloves too… Oi.)


  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • insect repellent
  • Contacts
  • Laundry washing bags
  • Laundry soap
  • Hair ties, headband
  • Comb
  • Floss
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Aloe
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Eye cream
  • Face cream
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Face wash
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup (small pot of foundation, brow pen, mascara, eye liner, lip stain, lipstick)
  • Extra earplugs

Carry on:

  • Canon 5DIII plus two lenses, extra battery, filters, memory cards, and chargeriPad + charger
  • Card reader
  • iPad x2
  • Phone + charger x2
  • Kindle x2
  • Passports
  • Tissues
  • Earplugs, lip balm, hand lotion
  • Wallet
  • Money belt x2
  • International plug adapters x2
  • Sunglasses, prescription and non-prescription
  • Glasses case and 1 set extra glasses
  • Bose headphones x2
  • Biotin tablets
  • Snacks
  • Gum, Ricola
  • Sleeping masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Microsoft Surface

  • Olympus Camera

  • Thermaband physical therapy band

Camping Gear:

  • Sleeping bag x2
  • Silk sack x2
  • Mammut blowup Pillow
  • Mat x2 (We upgraded our old ones to these new, thicker Exped ones. Best decision ever.)
  • Schnozzel bag to blow up the new mattresses, doubles as a waterproof bag for my sleeping bag
  • Plastic utensils
  • Folding snap-up plates, bowls, and cups
  • Headlamps
  • 1 neck lamp for Kay
  • Swiss Army knife x2
  • Water bottle x2
  • Camelbaks x2
  • Hiking Sticks (We also upgraded and bought new, extremely light and collapsible ones)
  • Rain cover for my pack, doubles as an airport transport bag
  • Dry bags a plenty
  • Tent
  • Outdoor GPS
  • MSR Cooker + repair set
  • Fuel bottle
  • Fire Starter
  • Magnesium Block
  • Water Filter
  • Aquamira
  • Water transport bag
  • Cooking pans
  • Jetboil (we bought this in NZ after a lot of debate, it made some of the hikes a lot easier)
  • Lighter x2
  • Dextrose sugar tablets
  • Some dry bag food we had at home
  • Some running gels lying around at home, which we would have had to throw out for the movers otherwise.

Medical kit: Also for camping

  • First aid kit
  • Mirror
  • Whistle
  • Chem Lights
  • Tourniquet
  • Sam Splint
  • Paracord
  • Zip lock bags
  • Duct tape
  • Rubberbands
  • Locks
  • Sewing kit
  • Coal Tabletts
  • Immodium
  • Malarone (anti malarial tablets, as we are going to some heavy malaria zones)
  • Ibuprofen/aspirin
  • Thermometer
  • Alkaline Soap
  • Fenistil (itch relief for bug bites)
  • Compeed (blister patches)


  • Mystery Ranch trekking backpacks x2 (My checked bag and Kay’s carryon and personal item)
  • Ortlieb watertight bag (Kay’s checked bag)
  • Exped watertight backpack (My carryon)
  • Camera bag (My personal item)
  • Pack-able day pack from Osprey
  • Pacsafes x2
  • 1 extra big light duffle bag as a temporary stash bag between hikes


  • Mask x2
  • Snorkel x2
  • Gloves x2
  • Padi licenses x2
  • Dive computer x2
  • Dive computer connectors
  • BCDs x2
  • Sharkskin wetsuit
  • Dive case for Olympus

So, that’s it. If you aren’t going to be doing serious trekking like we planned, and you don’t dive, or will be diving minimally and happy to rent here or there, that would already cut a ton of things off your list. Even for the medical kit alone, we only brought half the stuff in there because we knew we would be in places with no phone signal, no road access, and very few thru hikers who would be able to help us in case something happened. And since writing this, we have used most of the hiking gear including the often undervalued medical kit, with both of us having cut open blisters, used compeed, taken my temperature, used pills, ointments, etc. Thankfully we did not need the tourniquet yet. 😉

If you are planning an “easy” city-style RTW trip mostly staying in hostels or hotels and not camping God knows where next to some freezing weather, this list is probably not for you. 🙂