Here’s Part 2 of my Homemaking on the Road Series! This will focus on the ins and outs of packing for a trip… and the tricks I use to save money, sanity, and space.
I like to think that I’m a minimalist, but the truth is, anyone who can’t travel without a set of hot rollers isn’t exactly low-maintenence. So let’s explore how to pack as lightly as possible but still be prepared once you get to your destination.
1. Know What You Need. Before you leave for your trip, take note during your morning or daily routine and list the things you use most, from toiletries to kitchen supplies. Must you roll your hair? Will you be a non-functional zombie without your special blend of coffee in the morning? What about that eye mask that allows you to sleep in?
2. Your Favorite Things. If you wear something at least once a week, however uncool or unfitting it seems for the trip you have in your head, bring it. A favorite hoodie, pair of slippers, or those jeans you keep meaning to throw out but keep patching instead are home to you, and I guarantee you, you’ll be longing for them when you’re out of your comfort zone.
Conversely, that beautiful dress that never looks quite right when you’re at home won’t look any better in Florence; your ass will still look big as the Duomo. Ditch it and grab your reliable wrap dress instead.
3. Pack with a list. Keep it in front of you and cross it off as you go. You don’t want to arrive to realize that you SWORE you brought your allergy medication or your passport, but didn’t.
4. Plan to Layer. Bring items that work alone or together if you’ll be going through different climate zones. I like leggings, tanks, dresses, skirts, and sweaters because they work well for almost all seasons as separates or together. I like to wear my favorite pair of boots (which work for rain and cold) and pack sneakers and flats, because they take up less room. Rolling clothing rather than folding it saves space in your suitcase and helps to prevent wrinkles.
Gentlemen, it’s fine to only bring one or two pairs of pants or one suit if they’re dark or neutral – just bring changes of shirts, underwear, and socks, plus 2-3 ties so you get some variety.
I have a great makeup bag that doubles as an evening clutch, so I can get away with bringing two purses. I also bring at least one great cocktail outfit and a bathing suit. Because you never know.
5. The Problem of Shoes. The problem is, most people have many pairs they love equally, and shoes are quite bulky. Ladies, if you don’t leave home without your heels, at least bring a pair you can walk in, or ones that go from day to night with ease. (Pretty wedges are ideal for this!) If paring down simply makes you raise your hands in horror, then maybe it’s worth hauling an extra pair in a baggie in your biggest purse. You diva.
Guys, don’t forget to pack one pair of dress and one pair of casual or walking shoes.
Flip flops are cheap and can be found anywhere with warm weather… so these are a good idea to get at your destination, unless you have a really great pair that you wear a lot.
Speaking of buying, I like to keep an extra collapsible shopping bag in my suitcase for purchases made at my road trip destinations. If you’re flying home, consider shipping your latest buys; the extra bag or weight fees are often just as if not more expensive than paying UPS to fly it.
6. The Beauty of The Breakaway Bag. If you’re on the road for a few days, pack a small “breakaway bag” for each couple or person with overnight essentials, valuables, and a change of clothes to bring into the hotel at night. Because digging out and lugging around several large suitcases at 11:30 pm in bad weather is just not fun, especially if you’re wrangling pets or kids. The breakaway bag is also good to have if your destination has several walking or day trips planned, since it can hold snacks, hiking gear, camera equipment, etc.
7. Eat Well. Scarfing down coffee, Funyuns, and Slim Jims at every Flying J seems like a hoot until you’re huddled on the cold motel toilet at 3 am. Part of the magic of the American Road Trip does include stopping for an indulgence now and then, but try to bring snacks that also happen to be healthy, or stop at a grocery store mid-day.
Some sneaky snacks which you can find at most gas stations, airports, and convenience stores: Hard boiled eggs, snack or sting cheese, baby carrots, dried fruit and nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese with fruit, V-8 juice. Personal water/beverage bottles or travel cups are also great because they save money.
More on cooking and travel in a future post!