Hey y'all! I traveled this past week out to Denver, Colorado for the first time in a decade! On the long, long car ride I decided to redeem the time and hash out some of my traveling/ packing tips (on my phone no-less. 1,500 words with my thumbs, y'all). I don't do a lot of traveling per se, but oftentimes when I do it is semi-last minute and a substantial trip. Streamlining my clothes packing experience is something I've been trying to work on, as well as the all-females problem over-packing. I realized I spend a lot of time rearranging my luggage and stuffing clothes into my suitcases while on trips which takes away from spending time with those I'm visiting. When you have only a few days with someone, every 5 minutes counts! :) And schlepping a ton of stuff around is no fun anyway.
Real quick, here is the specs on the outfit I wore to Dinosaur Ridge. We expected to go ice skating that day but it was too warm and the lake was thawing, so we went and saw dino footprints instead. :)
Cardigan: Ross: $13
Jeans: American Eagle: $40
Shirt: Kohl's: $6
Hat: Target: $10
Boots: Hush Puppies: $185
(yikes-- this is one of the most expensive outfits on the blog I think! :P)
This past year I did a bit of traveling both by myself and with my family and I've learned a few things along the way. There are certainly many more-practiced ladies sharing their packing tips on the Internet, but here are some things I keep in mind, especially as a mostly-skirts girl:
- choose relatively wrinkle-free if you'll be someplace where you don't know what the ironing situation is like. If I'm headed to a sleepover at a friend's, I'll choose denim, knit, or something else easy to shove in a bag. If I'm spending a week at my grandmas or in a hotel, I can take linen or cotton skirts since I know an iron will be easy to get to.
- double up bottoms. I will often re-wear a skirt or pair of jeans within a trip now. Seems obvious, but for a long time I would pack a totally different outfit (even shoes) for each day, not wanting those I was visiting to think I was short on clothes. Plus, I wanted to wear as many of my cutest clothes as I could. :D Funny how us girls think like that.
- take one or two jackets tops. I would also take a jacket for each outfit, but those take up a lot of space. As I'm laying out clothes I try to choose one that will go with most outfits.
- choose black or brown for your neutral and make all your outfits work with that. This way, you need half the pairs of shoes, half the jackets, half the tanks, and half the belts to match. I have no problem mixing black and brown if you have the right proportions, but when traveling that can be hard to manage. I find this really helps with space savings and also helps me make decisions about what to take.
- layers are great, but don't get over-zealous. I always think I will take the time to look super put-together and cute in my striped shirts, lacy cardigan, pearls, belt, boot socks, and done-up hair. But the truth is, I'm not going to have more time or greater desire to dress up with all those little details on vacation than I do at home, no matter my original intentions. So, leave the extra jewelry, belt you won't even pull out, and hair flowers at home if you don't normally wear them. At least, don't pack a different set for everyday. Dressing nicely is definitely something I strive for, but so is practicality.
- re-wear tanks if you can. In the winter I can usually get by wearing a tank twice or three times before it needs washed. Summer is a different story, so I pack extra in the warmer months, unless I know laundry facilities will be easily accessible. They don't take up much space, but every little bit helps. Plus it's less to keep track of in the spirit of streamlining repacking time.
-roll your clothes. It really does save space, and helps with wrinkles.
-pack what you'll use at the end of your trip in the bottom of your suitcase, outfits you'll wear sooner at the top. This helps with not having to dig through and mess things up.
So, what kinds of things have I found to be helpful on every trip, whether a short overnight jaunt to Six-Flags or a two week trip to visit my hometown? Here's my checklist:
- iPhone and charger, headphones, debit card, GF granola bar
- Toothbrush and paste, makeup (depending on the length of the trip, I'll take more or less extras like colored eyeliner, sparkles, or eyeshadow)
- Cloth scarf that can double as a "jacket" or pillow.
- Hair tie, bobby pin or two
- Set of pearls with earrings. Okay, I didn't take these overnight to Six Flags, but they've gone on every other trip. Instant class in case you have to dress up for dinner, photoshoot, or unexpectedly need to cut your trip short and drive straight to a funeral.
- Knife. If I'm flying, obviously I leave this at home, but driving it is very handy for splitting apples or opening blister packs when you stop at Best Buy for a car charger. Plus, if you keep it in your pocket or boot, it gives a little bit of comfort as you visit gas station bathrooms at 2 am.
- Medicines. I usually have a couple allergy pills, Benadryl (bee stings), and pain killers. If I have forethought, I'll throw lavender oil in my backpack too.
- Bible, journal, and sermon notebook as I usually have time to catch up on journaling and blogging while in the car. If I'm traveling with friends I don't have an opportunity so I leave the notebooks at home.
- Jeans. Sometimes I'll even throw these in the trunk if I'm traveling back roads at night. I don't really want to change a flat tire in a skirt and you never know what kinds of activities might come up while on vacation. Wouldn't want to miss rock climbing!
- My purse. This has other necessities in it that go with me everywhere. Maybe I'll do a "What's in my bag" post if y'all would be at all interested in that.
I have an aversion to having to carry a ton of different bags or having to make more than one trip from the car if I'm by myself, so I try to condense as much as possible. My usual luggage is a 24" rolling suitcase and my leather backpack for a week to two week trip. I usually try to fit my purse into my backpack so that is one less thing to carry, but I will have it for using while at my location. If I'm just going for a weekend, I try to fit it all in my backpack.
Shoes? Well, this one used to be hard for me. But, recently I've been even planning my outfits out so that I don't need to take a ton of different pairs. I start to reevaluate if I reach 4 pair. In the summer, I generally take one or two pair of flip flops, church sandals, and tennis shoes. These take up much less room than the flat boots, Sperry's, and church boots I pack in the winter, but such is cold weather.
A couple years ago I took only one pair of shoes on an overnight trip and the sole of the shoes ended up falling off and I had to walk through the mall to the restaurant with a flapping shoe. :p So now I always take two pair.
As far as clothes go, what kinds of activities we will be doing and where we are going really dictate what I pack. My staples the last couple trips have been:
- a short denim skirt, a long knit skirt, jeans or capris, and a dress, usually nice enough to wear to church.- a shirt, sweater, or cami/cardigan combination for each day, plus an extra one or two.
What do I wear for full day car trips? It really varies. On our recent trip in which we drove about 8 hours each day, I wore a casual long denim skirt and cami/jacket one day, my church dress, hose, belt, and long earrings the next, and jeans, mukluks, and a pretty sweater for the final leg. I spend most of my time in the van laying down or driving because the backseats hurt my neck super bad, so I'm most comfortable in jeans which let me stretch and spread out in weird positions. I just have to be a little more careful or cover up with a big blanket if I'm in a skirt. As I type this on my phone right now I've got my head against the window, my lower back just about falling off the seat, one knee propped against the seat in front and my other leg resting on the top of that seat, almost touching my sister's car seat. It's so ladylike you guys, I should win an Audrey Hepburn award or something. ;)
My mom taught me to lay out- in order- my clothes for each day with socks, jackets, shoes, etc on my bed before packing it in my suitcase. I do this and then look at it real hard and figure out what I can take away. Does that one outfit need it's own pair of shoes and the pieces can't mix and match with everything else? Take it out of the lineup and figure something more versatile out.
Basically, the bottom line is don't take it unless you are 95% sure you'll need it. Of course don't leave behind things that would be critical if you did need them, like tennis shoes or a coat, but if it's something that on the off chance you did really need you could either borrow or just run out to Walmart and buy like a big notepad or bottle of hand cream, leave it home. I've even taken to leaving my hairspray home because I know whoever I'm staying with will have some and will be happy to give me a spritz or two.
Another thing I've found super helpful whether traveling with my family or another is that if you're stopping for a night on your way to your final destination, pack your stuff for that one night in your smaller travel bag so that you don't have to unload and drag your whole suitcase inside for the one outfit and pjs you'll use from it. My leather backpack is perfect for this.
My mantra for packing is the same as my mantra for the rest of my life: Simplify. De-stress. Go with it. :)
How do y'all pack? What tips do you have for not over-stuffing your suitcase?