Hello! It’s pretty fitting that I’m writing about packing light while sitting in the tiny island airport in Victoria. The airfield is sunny and there are lots of little prop planes scattered around, one of which is supposedly going to bring me to Vancouver in an hour :).
The first challenge I faced when thinking about fitting in training on this trip was definitely packing. Bringing anything more than a carry-on bag was out of the question, but I’m also a chronic over packer.
5 weeks into a backpacking trip, I’m about to tip over!
Over the years of travelling, I’ve gotten better at figuring out how to do it lightly. I don’t love the idea of rolling my clothes (I find they wrinkle!) but I have come up with a few tricks of my own.
Tip 1: Plan ahead
I always, always make a list of things I need to pack before I travel. This means I almost never forget things, and also that I now have a bunch of pre-made packing lists ready for different types of trips! For example, I have beach, cottage, camping, business and sightseeing lists that have been made and edited over the years. Sometimes I also gave these to the guys I dated to make sure they would remember everything too :).
Once I know what I need to bring, I plan the details of the outfits. If I’m packing, it’s totally normal for me to have outfits scattered everywhere! When I pack by outfit, I’m sure that I have something to wear for each event I have planned. I do this for simpler things, like races and 24-hour call shifts as well.
The key ideas here are:
- Reuse pieces. The same pair of jeans, or shoes for example, goes a long way! The more space you save here, the more you have later!
- Modify your destination if you can – I only book hotels with some kind of fitness centre, which means there’s almost always a spin bike or treadmill I can use
- Ziploc baggies! These are awesome for sweaty workout gear or dirty laundry. I just pop it in, squeeze all the air out and zip! Instant space saver. I’ve also used these to separate outfits when I’m packing a giant backpack. The freezer baggies easily fit a pair of shorts, tee, accessories and underwear.
Tip 2: If you can, keep it simple
Packing as a girl is complicated. Every outfit seems to have different shoe, outerwear and underwear requirements. Add the fact that I’m always cold and need a million layers, and the pile grows quickly. So, I’ve learned to cut corners, especially when it comes to workout gear. My go-to list is 1 pair of running shorts, 1 pair of running tights, a sports bra, a tank, a long sleeve top, and my bendiest, most easily packable racing flats (I’m obsessed with my Saucony FastTwitch 6’s) . I also bring the standard garmin, HRM, and headphones. But that’s it, I mean it. When I’m taking short trips, I don’t bring swim stuff, sport glasses, extra hair stuff, or anything else. I usually run without socks, so those are out too :).
For workouts, that leaves me with one outdoor outfit, one indoor outfit, and the associated technology. How does that get me through 3 weeks? These babies! When I finish a workout, I toss my sweaty clothes in the hotel sink, add some detergent, rinse and hang them up! The next day we’re good to go again.
Tip 3: Leave some wiggle room
Sometimes, you plan outfits, reuse what you can and still have too much stuff. In that case, I always force myself to take something out. I know that when I’m frantically packing to catch another flight or tired and ready to come home, I’m not going to want to try to overstuff my suitcase.
And that’s it! Make a list, plan simply, prepare to reuse things and be realistic!
Where are you heading next? Any tips for packing light?