It’s no big secret that packing is pain in the ass. You know what’s even more tiresome? Packing for six weeks when you haven’t a clue what the weather is going to be like.
I’ll be the first to admit that we struck out in many packing arenas before our Great American Road Trip. For some reason, I thought it was going to be warm—oh, I don’t know, maybe because we were traveling in MAY and JUNE—and I can count on two fingers the time I wore something that wasn’t long sleeves and pants.
Here’s the thing: We kind of just threw a whole bunch of crap in bags and stuffed every nook and cranny of the trailer with said crap. This is not the way to go. The trailer isn’t exactly full of ample storage space, so a lot of time these bags were just tossed under the table or on the benches (where we spent a lot of time given the rain), and because we brought so much, I never could locate what I needed.
If we were to do it all again, here’s what I’d take…
What came in handy:
My Merrell hiking shoes. As I had also packed my running shoes, I wasn’t sure if I would also need hiking shoes (turns out it was the other way around). The extra grip on my Merrells proved handy on the slick sandstone of the Canyonlands (particularly when jumping).
The rice cooker. Yes, we brought our rice cooker on the trip. And as small as the kitchen was, it was completely useful. Do you know how many meals rice goes with? Practically everything. Putting a pot of rice on to cook and making some kind of meat like baked chicken and a vegetable like roasted cauliflower made for a lot of easy—and healthy—meals without eating processed food.
A French press. We love gourmet coffee and loathe instant. We replaced our eight-cup French press for a smaller four-cup model and used the heck out of that thing.
Both fleeces and my puffy coats. I started collecting jackets during my time in the freezing Bay Area and now have two mid-weight North Face fleeces and a North Face down coat (what can I say? I love their stuff) that get a whole lot of use. I pretty much lived in these three items of clothes the first three weeks of the trip when it didn’t get above 60 degrees during the day and got as low as 30 most nights.
My rain boots. Last minute, SVV coaxed me to throw my parka and my rain boots. (I was being overly optimistic, way too optimistic in thinking I wouldn’t require warm or waterproof clothing.) Need I even say they barely came off my feet the entire time?
One nice dress. We only went out to eat at nice restaurants twice, still it’s always handy to have one dressier item of clothing with you…just in case.
Tank tops. I have those classic Gap ribbed tanks in every color of the rainbow. I often take a whole stack on any given trip, as I wear them underneath skirts or fleece or just paired with a cotton skirt. They always get worn.
Rain coat and winter hat. That goes without saying.
Lots of socks and underwear. Duh. That’s a no-brainer. Still, I think I brought a two-week supply and still found myself doing laundry pretty frequently. Next time I’ll allot less space for clothes and more room for undergarments.
Kindle. When has my Kindle not been a smart thing to pack? The answer: Never. And I read a whole lot of books on this trip, too.
Hoodies. You may have seen this purple hoodie I bought in Canada years ago make a frequent appearance on the blog as it’s part of my Official Flying Outfit and I wear it everywhere; however, early in our trip when we realized how cold it was going to be, we made a pit stop at Cabela’s and I also bought two heavily discounted Columbia hoodies and a North Face one as well (for around $30 each—total steal!).
ExOfficio insect repellent pants. I’m famously not a pants wearer—if you’ve noticed, I wear dresses more often than not—but I bought these bad boys when I went to Rwanda to ward off mosquitoes, and they’ve been a godsend ever since (especially since they’re the only non-yoga pants in my casual clothing collection).
Gap tees. I’ve also never been a T-shirt wearer but purchased two super soft, worn-in T-shirts from Gap right before we left, and alternated them every day it seemed.
Audiobooks. Prior to this trip, I hadn’t listened to a single audiobook in my life, but after loving Game of Thrones on HBO this spring, when my sister-in-law gave us the first book for my iPod. That was an immediate 35 hours of entertainment while driving. We started the second one on our cross-country move this past week.
Sirius car kit. I have Sirius in my Altima, but the truck didn’t have satellite so we bought a portable player for the road (which can be tacked onto your account for an additional $10 a month). While Howard Stern was on vacation much of our trip—what is up with that anyway?—we still got uninterrupted service, even in the boondocks where we wouldn’t have had regular radio channels.
What I did not need:
Running shoes. Sad but true. Due to the weather, I only ran twice in 42 days! I still take my running shoes on every trip, and 90% of the time never actually have time to go run. One day, I’ll learn.
Hand weights. As predicted, they were used twice in six weeks. Oops.
17 sundresses. That’s probably a conservative estimate. More like 37. If my pictures are any indicator, the number of sundresses I wore during my time on the road tallies a whopping one.
Three bikinis. Not like these consume a whole lot of space, but one bikini would have sufficed given the only day I used it the entire time was to lay out by Lake Coeur d’Alene.
My cowboy boots. I packed my originals, but also had the pair Langston’s Western Wear sent me, as well. While I will always take a pair of boots on vacation for when I’m wanting to look cute, on a road trip they weren’t necessary.
Coffee grinder. Why
we SVV is a coffee snob who prefers to grind his own coffee daily, after a week or so, for some reason we started buying the ground stuff anyway and using it in the French press instead.
As far as what electronics we take on the road, well, that’s a whole post of its own!