My trip to the great state of Washington is less than a week away and I’m starting to loose focus on regular activities like work, household chores, etc. If you’ve read previous blog posts you might be familiar with my less-than-great habit of getting so excited about a trip that I over-prepare mentally and then end up frantically packing at 3 am the morning of my flight. The trip will be less than a week, but that just means that I’ve accepted the challenge of packing maximum exploration into a few short days. Good thing Seattle is the city of coffee.
So far my preparations include: purchasing more cat food, knowing where my backpack is, and researching craft coffee shops. Yeah, reeeaalllly practical. I have a jam-packed work week between now and Thursday, so the next time I write might not be until I land in Seattle.
I have two trips coming up within the next few weeks and I find that the way I am packing for them is vastly different even though they are both fairly brief trips and both within the continental US. I think it reflects the way I view the destinations as well as my level of comfort/apprehension about both.
Trip A: Duluth, MN- my cousin’s wedding. In my family we log a lot of hours up in the northern part of Minnesota since my mother’s family is located there. Duluth is a favorite destination for us since it is familiar, exciting, and never boring. Duluth is an industrial city at heart since it is located on the tip of Lake Superior, greatest of the Great Lakes. There is a very busy harbor there and much of the iron ore that is shipped from the US goes through Duluth. Ever heard of the Edmund Fitzgerald? Yeah, that was from Duluth, and there are plenty of others like it that didn’t sink. In recent years Duluth has undergone gentrification in parts of the city opening it up to the tourism business. It combines a big industrial city with the beauty of the north woods. ANYWAY. For this four day trip I have 1. Fancy dress 1. 1. Nikon 1.Ipad 1.Set of pj’s. 3. Pairs of shoes AT LEAST. All necessary toiletries, lots of earrings options, and several books. Whew. I think the whirlwind of events is causing my brain to go into “dress like a winner” mode, meaning that I need to have options for every possibility. Wedding reception? Need something fabulous (like a stunning embroidered/beaded bird dress I bought from Anthropologie last winter and still have not had an occaision to wear it to!). Waking around a lake that is known for its frigid temps? Sweaters. Boots. Hat? Family gathering? Comfy skirt, bright shirt. OH THE POSSIBILITIES.
Trip B: San Francisco, Ca- my favorite city. The city of my dreams. Hallowed ground. It’s not hyperbole, I really love the City by the Bay! This is also for a wedding, but the majority of the trip will be an opportunity for me to stretch my legs and enjoy a solo visit where I can spend as much time as I want in the Golden Gate Park/City Lights Books/ various cafes etc without worrying about anyone else’s schedule. I’ve been reading about the slow travel phenomenon that other bloggers have been waxing eloquent about and I think that sounds fabulous. For this trip my packing is significantly simpler. 1. Dress (yeah, just one!). 2. Pairs of shoes 1. Nikon 1.Ipad 1.Book 1.Travel journal. 1.Set of pj’s. Various toiletries and jewelry.
As I said, I think my level of apprehension plays into my packing list, but maybe not in obvious ways. Duluth is a second home and since I will be roadtrippin’ with Ma and Pa I know that I will have room to bring all the extra little travel luxuries I want. Yeah it’s a short trip, and yeah there are not a lot of unknowns, but by nature I collect items and let very little go, so I am the type who always overpacks. In this case I can let my freak flag fly and bring pretty much whatever I want.
San Francisco, while being the city of my heart, is also a city in which I will be a solo traveler staying somewhere new and hitting the pavement with just me, myself, and I. I never like to check luggage, so everything I bring with be in my carry on. I fly Southwest, so that means I get two carry ons. See my earlier post about backpacks to see my trusty luggage! I was inspired by THIS post from the Travelettes to bring just one dress for the whole trip. Not only does it takes the stress out of trying to find the ~perfect~ dress to wear to the wedding as well as what to wear every other day, it gives me more room in my luggage and a fun little thing to write about during the trip. I have much more anxiety about my SF trip, so simplifying is key. My dress, my trusty Nikon, my backpack, and I will set out to get lost in the most beautiful way in my favorite city. I can’t wait.
How do you pack for your trips? Do you find you pack differently based on how you feel about your destination?
Do you ever look back at your awesome travel photos and see…you with a crossbody bag making an awkward wrinkly mess? Or maybe what should have been a carefully calculated travel-chic look ruined by the one and only purse you brought? Or how about when you bought a few items that would NOT fit into your little bag, so you spent the whole day lugging them around? There IS a solution: the backpack.
I am not a purse person. I don’t care to invest vast sums of my precious and hard earned cash into them and I never remember to keep an eye of for the latest in stylish bags anyway. When I was eighteen and getting ready to move out of my hometown to go off to college my mother bought me a backpack from a tried and true company out of Northern Minnesota. Since that day I have taken that backpack on every vacation, weekend excursion, camping trip, and overnight event I have gone on. That dusty, faded, travel worn back has been to Africa, Asia, and Europe. My pack and I scaled Kgale Hill in Botswana with it, and lugged my laptop and books from class to class over four and half years. There is a bite mark in one of the leather zipper pulls from a friend’s rabbit, and one zipper pull that I lost in the middle of an intersection on Castro St in San Francisco.
This backpack is marvelous…but also a little bulky. I admit that I have smacked more than one innocent bystander on an airplane or train when I turned around. I knew that I needed something small for day trips. A pack for my pack, if you will. A purse simply would not do! After a few months of product research I found a Scandinavian country that not only makes eco-friendly and hardy backpacks in several handy sizes, they also HELP SAVE ARCTIC FOXES. Obviously this was the investment for me.
I urge you, my fellow traveling friends, to give up your awkward purses and turn to an item that sits comfortably between your shoulders, look chic out in the woods or hitting the pavement of your favorite city, and which will hold your books/tablets/phones/latest purchases. I have switched over the contents of my life to backpacks and I have not looked back.
Want to learn more about my packs? Find them HERE and HERE.