We have finally reached the time of the year where I am allowed to go Christmas shopping, think about mashed potatoes 24/7 and pick up Christmas decorations in the dollar section at Target. In honor of the upcoming holiday, Thanksgiving, we wanted to talk about a conversation that comes up often when we talk about our trips, stuffing. Now of course, we don’t actually talk about the delicious food that I like to dip in gravy and mashed potatoes, but instead the ability to fit all of our vacation items into a backpack.
When we travel, especially this year with one adventure every month, we stick to a budget and often that means flying Spirit. We can find awesome deals with Spirit airlines, but this also means being able to take only a personal item for free. To avoid the charges, we decide to pack everything we could need into our backpacks and live out of these bags for our trips.
Our Mighty Five Utah trip left many family members and friends confused when they discovered we managed a 10-day hiking trip with just a backpack. So, here are 10 tips we use when packing for our trips with limited space.
1. Be specific when planning outfits for each day. If you have a 6-day trip, plan each part of the outfit for the full 6 days. Include socks, underwear, and accessories.
2. Roll clothing. Rolling clothing items creates the most space in the backpack.
3. No makeup, straighteners, curling irons or full-size bathroom items. I know this isn’t doable for everyone, but it is honestly liberating. It was great knowing I didn’t have to wake up early to do my hair or makeup. I wore my hair in braids a lot, brought hats and headbands, and enjoyed 10 days of no makeup or hair maintenance. *side note when we go somewhere with high humidity, I do bring anti-frizz in travel size bottles because my hair can be a little crazy!
4. Pack your favorite items. That sweater you LOVE that everyone has seen on Facebook one too many times in photographs, pack it. We sometimes feel like we need to purchase new items for our trips, but I promise the photographs you take are meant to represent your memories, the views, and the experience. Save the money for the trip. Plus packing your favorite items guarantees you will want to wear them and feel good in them. There is nothing worse than being away from home and putting on an outfit and hating how you look.
5. Don’t overthink it. My first time traveling for a few days away from home I thought I needed to pack everything. I packed face wipes, face wash, soap and face toner as if I was going to throw mud on my face 3 times a day and let it dry. We get this idea in our heads that we are going to need to change 4 times in one day and think “What happens if it snows, rains, sleets, hails and floods all in one day?” Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to be prepared and think about the necessities, but keep it to just that - necessities. I promise you don’t need that second rain jacket in case a bear steals your first one. Think about the items you use every day and pack those things.
6. Wear the bulkiest items on the plane, twice. I am sure this is no secret to many travelers. However, for some trips we have to take this an extra step and layer up. For example, Utah weather has an extreme temperature range between the mornings and evenings. We had to pack shorts and tank tops + a winter coat and warm socks. This meant I was running through the airport with my hiking boots on, a winter jacket tied around my waist and a long sleeve shirt covered by a flannel. In addition, we wore the same clothes on the plane both there and back. This eliminates the need for an extra outfit (assuming most of the day is travel).
7. Practice before the trip. I attempt stuffing everything into my backpack a few days before the trip. Put everything in and make sure it zips, feels comfortable and will be manageable to walk with. You may even find yourself saying you don’t need that extra pair of jeans once you feel how heavy the bag is going to be through the airport.
8. Be organized. If there is one thing about Colin everyone should know, it is that he takes organization to the next level. EVERYTHING is written down, accounted for, and managed appropriately. When people find out he is the more organized one in the relationship, they are shocked since I am very detailed oriented myself. His skills help him pack everything in a tight space and then make sure it gets home. He always makes a list on excel and prints the paper version for the trip. By typing out everything we need for the trip, we can see what the necessities are versus the nice-to-haves. Plus, once the necessities are written down for one trip, they tend to be very similar, or even the same, for future trips. It eliminates having to remember every time that you need face wash, toothbrush, medication etc. When packing, we lay out everything first and check it off, then stuff it into the backpack in as much organized chaos as possible (one can only be so organized with a backpack). Even if organization is not your number one skill, we highly recommend aiming for as much structure as possible when packing for a trip in a backpack.
9. Pack in order. You are able to see everything at once when laying it out before placing in the bag. This gives you an opportunity to pack with a little more thought. I like to place my outfits together in the bag and place outfits in reverse order of the vacation. So, last day of vacation (before the flight) goes in first and so on and so forth. This way I don’t have to empty my bag completely when trying to get dressed the first day. This also means placing my everyday needs on top and anything I need on the plane or right when landing, in last. This works out well since I often need these items the day of leaving as well. Since most backpacks have more than one pocket, I create categories for each pocket. The large inside pocket is all outfits in order, second largest pocket is for everyday use and third smallest pocket is plane items such as chargers, books and gum.
HAVE FUN! Packing can be really fun when you remember you are about to experience something amazing and new. It is honestly one of my favorite parts of the trip because each outfit, toothbrush and travel size shampoo packed is a reminder of an adventure I get to be a part of.