If You’re Going to San Francisco…

Yep, I’m heading back to one of my favorite places in the world, San Francisco. I leave Saturday morning from my home in Denver. Between now (Thursday night) and then I have one twelve hour shift, two cats to deliver, one rabbit to transport, and a bag to pack. If you’ve read any of my other posts you’ll know my usual last-minute scramble. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco you’ll know that while the weather is generally the same, you can fluctuate between bitter damp cold and fog and sunny sunny blue skies at any given moment- meaning it’s hard to pack for.

It’s a short trip, and as I discovered last time, the fewer articles of clothing I bring the more I can find at thrift stores and consignment shops as I explore the city! I’m keeping my plans fairly loose, but I have my usual list of favorite places tumbling along in my head.

1) City Lights and Green Apple Books

2) Ocean Beach

3) Golden Gate Park

And this time I am determined to set wheel against track in the house-of-worship-turned-roller-rink called the Church of Eight Wheels. I can’t wait!

Finally, this is a birthday present from me to me. I know I’ll be working through Christmas and New Year’s, just like I worked through Thanksgiving, so I thought I would at least treat myself for my birthday. I guess that’s one hell of a birthday party? Oh, and since I started typing this I’ve already packed 60% of my suitcase, so I’m ahead of the game!


Adventure Clothes

When I look at my clothes I see what I did, where I was, and who I was with when I wore them.  The shirts and dresses, pants, skirts, and bandannas are more than just cut and sewn pieces of cotton, silk, modal, polyester, lace: they are things that happened while I was wearing them and the people I was with.
When I travel (and this is not just me, I’m sure!) I oh-so-carefully select my clothes. This shirt and this pair of pants for this occasion, and a this pair of shoes in case it rains, and this dress to look stunning in. The problem is, I end up with a mountain of potential pieces and not enough room in my luggage. I sit and go through the pile: the maybe’s, the probably not’s, and the definitely yes’s. It can be hard to let go. Impracticality often wins. Spring? I’d like to believe I can wear my lace pineapple dress and not worry about cold or rain.
I have at least one dress that I love, but which I am not willing to wear because the last time I wore it was such a special and important night. Instead, I will admire it on it’s pretty floral hanger and think about that summer party. Again, I’m sure I am not alone in this.
At the end of last summer I went to San Francisco and I challenged myself to bring only one thing to wear. I found a pretty and versatile dress from Postmark (a la Anthropologie). I wore it faithfully for a couple of days and then decided that I really wouldn’t mind a pair of pants and a shirt, so I went to the Mission and scoured a couple of kitschy-chic thrift shops until I walked away with a pair of skinny jeans and a flannel shirt. Perfect. Those items are still in my closet and now I think of all my San Francisco adventures that happened when I wore them (abandoned racquet ball court in Golden Gate Park, anyone?). While I love my clothes, I think this might be an ideal way to deal with the stress of trying to decided which of my clothes make the cut. It’s wonderfully freeing! Just be sure to bring more than one pair of underwear, since no one wants to thrift that.
I am packing again and I pretty much have my selections laid out. I’m taking a break to type this, and even though I’m lounging in shorts and a t-shirt, I threw on a pretty pair of Seychelles heels that have been sitting in my closet all winter long. It’s time these beauties saw daylight.

Here We Go Again: The Struggle of Over Preparing

I’ve done it again.  I thought I was preparing so much for my trip back home for Christmas…that I actually didn’t prepare much at all.  I have to be at the airport in a few hours, and luckily a friend has offered to drive me there.  I purchased most of the Christmas gifts for people on my list.  Yet here I sit, on my floor, with the the cat nearby, and a heap of stuff piled on my bed, waiting to be sorted and/or packed.  Sigh.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation Part 1: Packing

It’s been about a week since I made the decision to move across the country to Colorado.  I notified both jobs, my landlady, and the people in my life.  Now it’s all about packing and winnowing down my possessions.  *Side note: Wes Anderson movies make a great background for this sort of thing*. Thankfully my parents are willing to store my furniture and a large portion of my belongings that aren’t comin with me.  I sold off a tidy number of my books today and I have two large garbage bags full of clothes to donate.  The apartment is mess right now, all half full boxes and clothes scattered around.  The bunnies are running rampant in the maze right now and the cats look disturbed.  That’s all for now, will update more later.


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?

Beautiful Duluth!
The San Francisco Dress