Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Adventures in packing :: How to pack a backpack + small carry on.

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After planning out what I was going to wear for our hiking/exploring trip to Europe, D and I made the decision to take our backpacks (which we took on our first trip to Europe) as opposed to our rolling carry-on suitcases.  While I'm usually one to save money instead of checking bags, we made this decision for a couple reasons.  First, we're flying Delta and get free checked bags on those long-leg flights.  Second, we're going to be doing a ton of travel via train after our hike is over.  In my opinion, this is a really important aspect when attempting to decide what luggage to take.  Lugging a rolling suitcase (of any size) up tons of stairs or through narrow train (or plane) isles can be a pain.  Even though a big backpack can seem cumbersome, it's a lot easier to get around.

My Kelty has served me well.  It has a ton of pockets, and the top portion can be disconnected to serve as a fanny pack if that's your thing.  There's so much going on though, it's hard to know where to start when packing this huge thing.  


If your backpack has a bottom zippered pocket, reserve that for your shoes.  If you're not using a backpack, try to pack your shoes first.  It'll help your suitcase to not be top heavy and fall over all the time.  

Quick tip: Stuff your socks inside your shoes before packing them.  I'll mostly be wearing sandals or my Chucks and won't need many socks.  I am taking two pair of sweat wicking socks for the hike, so I stuffed those inside my boots.


As long as you won't be using these items first (for instance I won't be using my dresses or jeans on our hike which is the first part of our trip).  After we finish our hike, I'll move those pieces to the bottom.

Next load up the items you'll need first.  I topped off the jeans and dressed with my hiking and yoga pants.


I would strongly suggest using packing bags.  I find it helpful to have my clothes sorted, so I'm not constantly digging through my bag trying to find a specific shirt.  This would also cause me more stress because I would be constantly folding & re-folding clothes within my backpack.  I used Eagle Creek Pack-It Compression Cubes, and they work wonders!  They have a lifetime guarantee and honestly hold much more than you think they would.  Plastic ziplock bags, old Toms shoes bags, or these adorable bags Anna used to pack for a west coast trip would work too.  Anything to separate and easily navigate within your bag will do!

In the smaller of my compression cubes, I packed six tanks (I ended up moving the camisole to the bigger cube).

In my larger cube, I packed four shirts and two pair of shorts.  In both cubes I found it easier to keep the shirts folded instead of rolled.  It really depends on what works for you.

I'm not 100% sure if wrinkles will be a problem, but I'm planning to have access to a hair dryer most of the trip.  If you won't have a dryer, pick up something like this from Downy.  Target almost always has travel sizes of that or a similar product.

I threw the cubes on top of my pants in the backpack.  Following that I layered a button-down shirt.  Wrinkles are a concern with the chambray, so I put that on top with very little on top of it.


I have that handy "fanny pack" on the top of my bag, so I threw in lighter pieces including a sweatshirt, packable rain jacket (necessity for a hiking trip), and my hats.  It's possible I'll switch around the toiletry bag.  The issue I have with the toiletries being on top is that they could get banged around in the checked-bag process.  I don't want anything to bust or get broken, so that's a detail to bear in mind when packing a bag that isn't hard on the outside.

Finally the front zippered pocket is reserved for the lightest items (which will also protect toiletries or items on the inside) such as underwear, scarves, bras, and swimsuits.

The last and final element of packing was including my small daypack with a hydration bladder which I'll use for the hike.  If you're into it, you can just use your daypack as your carry-on.  For me, I didn't want to carry something on my back around Spanish cities since I feel like it's an invitation for pickpockets.  I also like a bag I can easily reach into when I need something.  My daypack is smaller than my purse, so I chose to pack it.

While it may not look like it, the day pack slipped in easily on top with all the straps tucked in underneath.  
Backpack complete.


Last, but not least, is the carry-on.  Finding the perfect purse was important and difficult.  I often use my Kate Spade Minka, but it's orange and just wasn't going to work for the summer months.  I also needed something that zipped across the top (no pickpocketing!) and fit my DSLR.  

I'm still debating two options for my carry on.  The above includes my ONA camera organizer.  It's important for me because it keeps my camera from getting scratched up or lost in the mix in the satchel. It is a tad bit big for the satchel especially when I include a few other larger items like my wallet & kindle.

Nonetheless, there are some important necessities you want to have in your carry-on.
  • Travel wallet (which holds my passport inside)
  • Kindle/tablet/iPad
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Kleenex
  • Sleep mask
  • Travel journal
  • Sleep aid (so I can sleep on the overnight flight)
  • Playing cards
  • Umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
Am I leaving anything out?  Including my camera, the satchel is heavy.  I wouldn't want much more aside from maybe my glasses and a few toiletries (to brush teeth and on the chance that my checked bag gets lost).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Adventures in packing :: Hiking+exploring for 15 days in Europe.

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Over the past two months, I've been having a lot of anxiety over packing for our upcoming trip to Spain & Portugal.  I mean I've done this before, so it should be no problem, right?  Wrong.  Even though this trip is shorter, it will be very different.  We're beginning our trip by hiking the first leg of Camino de Santiago trail.  Hiking means completely different clothing than I would wear for trekking around cities.  I was racking my mind every night with what I should pack, what I might need to buy, what will I carry it all in, etc.  Finally I eased my anxiety by {poorly} sketching out a packing list.

Tips for making a packing list:
  • Establish a palette/theme :: I'm a neutral girl all the way, so I have lots white, gray, and black.  I would suggest picking one general color palette and ensure that your pieces mix-and-match.
  • Realistically determine what physical activity you'll accomplish :: Traveling is tough because it takes me away from my normal exercise routines.  I'm always tempted to take my running shoes, but unless I'm at a resort I know I won't be running.  There's something scary about running unknown streets, so I shouldn't kid myself.  Take the running shoes, yoga mat, sports bra, only if you know you'll use it.
  • Be aware of any "dress codes" :: Many countries won't allow you to enter churches or cathedrals if you aren't wearing sleeves.  Make notes of dress codes such as this or simply carry a long sleeve shirt with you.
  • Layers, layers, layers :: I'm pretty fickle when it comes to temperature.  D likes to say that there's about a 10 degree range that works for me; anything outside "the range" leaves me freezing or scorching.  Remedy? Layers. Button-downs atop short sleeves atop tanks as necessary.

When planning out my packing list, I tried to be frugal but give myself enough options.  I packed minimally for the hiking portion of our trip (it is only four days of the trip) knowing that I'll have to reuse at least one bottom and top.  I gambled that it would be ok because I likely would't wear those clothes again throughout our trip.  As for the city-wear, I could make so many outfits out of these pieces.  As a chronic outfit planner (down to each and every piece), it makes me a little anxious but also gives me freedom!  I know I'll need that freedom since I won't be able to predict the weather.  To break it down:

  • Shirts :: 
    • 4 tees (three neutral colored+one bright)
    • 3 tanks (again, two neutral+one bright
    • 2 blouses (chambray+white
    • 1 thicker long sleeve (can be used hiking and in the city
    • 1 camisole
    • Added last minute: 3 sweat-wicking, activewear shirts for the hike
  • Bottoms :: 
    • 3 shorts (two neutral+one bright
    • 1 skirt (I'm actually taking two skirts & two shorts
    • 2 pants (one hiking+one yoga)
    • 1 pair of jeans
  • Dresses ::
    • 2 dresses (can be dressed as skirts or used for nice dinner occasions)
  • Outerwear ::
    • 1 rain jacket
    • 1 light casual jacket (to be worn on the plane)
  • Shoes ::
    • 1 hiking boot
    • 1 active sandal
    • 1 casual walking shoe
    • 1 cute sandal

I truly packed everything, plus more, that I mentioned.  When I was packing I was a bit worried that I packed too much.  It's possible you could scale it back.  The weather is predicting low 70s, and I'm cold-natured.  I wanted to ensure that I had plenty of layers if it is chilly.

For accessories, go simple and light!  All of mine will fit in the front pocket of my backpack.  Aside from the basic underwear & bras (sports bras included if you're hiking), you want pieces that will change the the look of your outfit so you can mix and match items.  A few components to add:
  • A hat and/or headscarf (which doesn't take up much room at all!)
  • 1-2 necklaces
  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 2-3 scarves
  • 1 thick belt, 1 thin belt

While I'm only taking one swimsuit, I'm planning to take 7 pairs of underwear & 2 sports bras (to alternate for the hike).  I'm actually taking 3 scarves, but I'm planning to wear the biggest, an infinity scarf for warmth, on the plane.  I'm throwing my necklaces in my toiletry bag, so they aren't pictured either.  The belts are necessities, but I just forgot to picture them.

The only items that won't be included in my backpack are my airport outfit.

Aside from this outfit, I'm fitting everything into a backpack.  There's a method to the madness, so check out how to fit all of this (which includes a smaller backpack with hydration bladder) into a backpack and a purse.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Life lately :: In betweens.

In between obsessing over planning and packing for our trip to Europe (which is officially only a week away!), I've been crazy busy.  I am working on a couple posts related to packing (in a backpack) for a two week hike+leisure jaunt through Europe, so let's just cross our fingers I find time for that.  In the meantime...

Drinking//Finally trying this coffee, ghee, and coconut oil latte the Eighty Twenty gals have been raving about!  And you know what?  It's pretty awesome!

Spending my time//with this little baby girl.  I'm already worried about how much I'm going to miss the kitties while we're gone.

Wearing//this Athleta Fast Track tank.  Aside from all the stuff I've wanted needed to buy for our Europe trip, I've been obsessing over this tank.  It's keeping me motivated to work out (and prepare for June's Esprit de She race)!

Reliving//our weekend trip to the beach.  It was the first beach trip of the season, and it may have been the best one.  D spoiled me.  I am still dreaming of that perfect seafood meal chock full of steamed crab legs, clams, and shrimp. And those raw oysters.  One of my favorite meals ever.

Stressing over//a book club/baby shower combo.  Between coming home from the beach and deep cleaning for a good few hours, shopping, spending, drawing, decorating, researching, gift planning & buying…my oh my.  My anxiety levels were off the charts (not to mention I was slacking in other areas of my life because my focus was elsewhere).  But I am pretty damn proud of this adorable mommy gift I put together.

Eating//Trophy Brewing.  D agreed to let me pick up a Trophy pizza and salad that I've been craving for weeks.  Week officially made!  Let's not talk about all those goodies I snacked on during teacher appreciation week.  Someone please send tips on how to get recommitted to fitness and food goals come summer!


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