Jul 22, 2012

Summer Road Trip: What and How to Pack

What and How to Pack it up...

This summer, I'm going on a road trip with a youth group I help counsel. It will take us from Oregon down to San Diego on three charter buses for all 130 of us! The whole trip will be 5 days long, and since there are so many of us, I need to think about how to pack what I need lightly. My goal is to pack only my essentials and to limit myself to one duffle bag and one small backpack. My duffle bag is a typical Nike gym bag (it's pink!) and my backpack is a child's sized hiking pack (I'm a small person) with lots of extra compartments and straps. In all this I need to fit clothes, toiletries, bedding, entertainment, snacks (see How to Healthy Nom), and chaperone essentials like my itinerary, first aid, and all the emergency contacts for our group. It's kind of like packing for a hiking trip, and I actually really like that! I often go out of town for a day or two to stay with friends, so I always have a "go bag" on hand with miniature and condensed versions of my daily needs, and that will help a lot with keeping myself organized for this trip.

Packing like a Champ Checklist:

Clothes for 5 days and 4 nights, including 2 all travel days - it's a Catholic retreat, for which I am a chaperone. When it comes to how I look, I'm not going to be too concerned for being my sexiest or anything. I'm going pure functionality - clothing that is comfortable and appropriate, as well as versatile and can be worn a couple of times. I'll pack a little squirt bottle of fabric freshener to keep the flies away.
  • I'll have 3 shirts to wear during the Disneyland trip and the days at the conference
  • Comfortable and appropriate length pants or shorts - I'll really only need like 3 pairs since I'll be in my "travel clothes" (erm, sweats) for two of the five days
  • Comfortable travel clothes, which for me means running shorts and pilates pants, an appropriate lightweight shirt/ tank top and probably a sports bra (gimme a break, we'll be on a bus for like 30 hours total)
  • Comfortable running shoes for everything. I mean it, I'm not packing any glittery slippers or high heels.
  • Flip flops. I will bring flip flops because we will be staying in vacated dorm rooms during the conference, and I remember dorm living as not necessarily the most sanitary. I'll wear the flip flops in the shower and when I walk down the halls. I am trying to conserve space, but this is worth the extra 2 flat inches.
  • Modest bathing suit. Sure I've been working out and eating right; I've tanned well riding my bike all summer, but a Catholic retreat with a bunch of my middle school students is not the time to show off my bikini body. I'll probably cover up completely with a tank and some board shorts anyway.
  • One sweatshirt. It will be hot in San Diego next week, I know this. But one sweatshirt can be a blanket, a pillow, a seat cover, a bathing suit cover, etc. It's a multi-use tool, actually.
  • Pajamas - meaning more workout clothes and my flip flops (versatility, baby!)
Toiletries - Like I said before, modesty is key to helping me pack light. I don't need any more makeup than is necessary to make me look less zombie-ish. Almost all of the stuff listed below can fit snugly into my travel makeup bag, which only takes up a tiny corner of my duffle, or can even be strapped to the outside to make more room. I'm also including things other people might need because I will be chaperoning a group of teenagers and a benefit of being in a group is being able to share resources. (One disclaimer: in any group other than immediate families, you shouldn't share any medication.)
  • one eyeliner pencil + sharpener
  • one pallet of eyeshadow (maybe)
  • small tube of mascara
  • tinted SPF moisturizer
  • one small compact of pressed powder
  • SPF lip balm
  • hair brush
  • bobby pins
  • ponytail holders
  • deodorant
  • regular shampoo
  • regular conditioner
  • body soap
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • disposable razor
  • ibuprofen, Benadryl, other daily meds (for me only)
  • hand sanitizer
  • SPF 50 sunblock
  • healing moisturizer
  • first aid kit
  • for the girls: feminine supplies - this is a practical list, friends
  • body wipes (like Wet Ones) - these are essential. You never know when your bus is going to get stuck somewhere and you start getting sweaty and sticky and gross. I have at least five packs around my house somewhere, and I always have one with me when I'm in the car or on my bike. I usually get the kind that says it's makeup remover, because then I know it's somewhat safe to use around my eyes. I also don't get rid of a sheet after every use; if I've only used a corner of one and the rest isn't completely dirty, I stash it back into the resealable pack to be handy another time.
  • baby powder - a little baby powder in the right place can keep packed clothes from getting too stinky (you can also use dryer sheets), keep deodorant working longer, or dry up oily hair after missing a shower day.
  • face towel and body towel - it's really one of those things you don't want to have forgotten to pack and then find out there aren't any you can borrow... that sucks
  • pillow and bed sheets - instead of a full-on sleeping bag, one of the group coordinators suggested bring just a set of sheets to save space, and to keep cool during the warm summer evenings
Entertainments/ Sundries - in the backpack with me. Some of the items above will make it into my backpack anyway, but these items are pretty much only for those loooooong bus rides.
  • iPhone - the kids won't demand my attention every moment of every day, but I definitely need to be entertained, take pictures, and I also need to update my blog (versatility again)!
  • iPhone wall charger and car charger, ear buds
  • sketch book
  • pencils (case)
  • book to read - there probably won't be too much with this, since I can get car sick and I've had vertigo before
  • binoculars - because I bought a mini pair for stargazing and I haven't used them for much yet
  • ball of yarn - I'm going to make a prayer shawl during the trip, I'll post patterns and photos :D
  • Darth Vader and Neil the Stormtrooper... they go everywhere with me!
  • notebook - not so much for entertainment as it is for organizing. My notebook will be my one place for keeping the schedule, emergency contact information, and taking... er... notes.
That's pretty much my whole packing list, and a little peek into my inner life ;P It does seem like a hefty list, but I know I can confidently fit all of this (plus some healthy noms) into my one duffle, one backpack limit.

Tips for getting it all to fit

There are some tried and true methods for packing tightly, and some tricks can really make a difference in space. For example, I'm a roller: I roll my clothes when I want to pack space consciously. They see me rollin... Rolling my clothes saves space by limiting the surface area of the clothing rolls so that they take up less volume inside the bag. Here are my stand-by tips:
  • Start with the largest items other than towels and sweatshirts, usually pants. Fold them in half along the middle seam and roll downward from the waistband. Tuck them tightly into the corners and inner edges of the bag.
  • Next, roll the smallest items (undies, bathing suits, beanies, socks, whatevs), and tuck those into the spaces between the largest items.
  • Tightly roll medium-sized items: shirts, thin dresses, sweaters, etc. layer those rolls on top of the largest and smallest items, working to fit everything snugly.
  • Usually I can fit my toiletries bag and my rolled up towel on the same layer of my shirts.
  • I either stack my flip flops bottom-sides together on top of my towel, or I slip them into a side pocket on the duffle.
  • If I'm packing way in advance, I keep in mind what I'll be wearing the day of travel, which wouldn't need to be packed. I leave out my sneakers and my travel sweats, as well as my sweatshirt (which I'd probably use to sleep in on the bus.
  • Any extra space in the duffle goes to dry snacks or other items I will not need or want while I'm on the bus (maybe the second book I brought in case I finish the first one).
For my carry-on backpack, I take a kind of dramatic approach. What if I get stranded in the woods somewhere and I only have my backpack with me? What will I need in a situation like that? I pack the general meds - ibuprofen and Benadryl, as well as my inhaler (just in case), as well as basic purse stuff without getting too overpacked: lip balm, small container of lotion, wallet, book, phone, etc. What I want to really save my space for, however, are my snackies. I'll get hungry - especially with my habit of eating small amounts of whole foods frequently throughout the day, I'll get hungry more often than we'll stop for food. I am also making a real effort to make healthy food choices in my life, and I want to keep that up, so the snacks I pack need to be meaningful as well as space-minded. In How to Healthy Nom, I'll give some tips for eating healthy while on a long road trip.

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