Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

The mission: spend a rad weekend adventuring in a part of the state I have never before explored. Visit with a friend who I haven't seen in a half-year. Travel out of town solo for the first time e-v-e-r. (Hopefully) attend an event put on by another Alaskan gay-straight alliance.  Have fun.

The challenge: do so with only one backpack. 

I am a chronic over-packer. I'm the kid who bring two bags to a sleepover and still manages to forget sometimes that I wanted to bring. My suitcase is greatly larger than, um, anyone's in my family. When we go out of town for even the afternoon, I bring a giant purse. There is no such thing as a "small handbag" in my vocabulary. 

With this trip, it's time for that to change. Honestly, I've never liked carrying around tons of luggage -- it always feels like your arm is going to be yanked out of its socket -- and it's often better to forget something small than to be overburdened with many things that you don't need. I wrote this guide to help me as much as to help you! (And afterwards, I'll definitely share some sweet pictures of the trip with you guys. One of my packing must-haves is my nice camera!)

Sample packing list (and how to write your own!)

Here's the list that I've scrawled out in my journal (and yes, I do keep a journal!) of what I need & want to bring on my little trip. 
  • sparkly-butt jeans (  & yes, I do have jeans that fit this description!)
  • RESPECT hoodie
  • red plaid button-up
  • polka-dot PJ pants
  • PFLAG shirt
  • 3 pairs socks
  • 3 pairs underwear
  • tortoiseshell skinny jeans
  • blank tank top
  • white tank top
  • 1 bra
  • Nirvana t-shirt
  • $$$
  • pomade
  • hairbrush
  • extra camera card
  • makeup bag w/ makeup
  • toiletries bag 
  • swimsuit
  • camera (DSLR)
  • camera (Instax Mini)
  • camera charger
  • iPhone / wall charger
  • DYKE book
  • boarding pass
  • wallet w/ ID
  • headphones
  • blue backpack
  • crystal necklace
  • sunglasses
  • sneakers
  • activism bracelets
How did I write that list? Well, the first thing I did was (duh! dyke fashionista speaking!) make outfits. I'll go over how to work out what to wear in the next section, so don't fret over clothes yet. After I decided what I'd wear, I thought about what I'd need to actually get on the plane (boarding pass, ID.) The plane ride could be incredibly dull, so I threw the book in, as well as my headphones for music purposes. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself, so that's all I really need on the plane -- especially since I've only got a few hours each way! 

That's all fabulous, but what about when I arrived? I thought about what I'd be doing there and since I have really relatively no idea, I added $$$ and a swimsuit to the list. (Swimsuits are always a good idea. Always.) Makeup, hair, and hygiene products that I use regularly definitely need to be included, but since my life is in such flux that I keep all of those items in contained bags currently, I opted to just bring the bags. Makeup is fluid & dependent on emotion, & I absolutely hate wanting a certain eyeliner and not having it available. Obviously, I'm bringing my DSLR, and for good measure I decided to bring my Instax Mini. For this trip, I don't want to bring my laptop but I do want to be able to take digital pictures, so the extra camera card is 1100% necessary. Throw in various chargers & my iPhone (in case I wander off & get totally lost!) and the list is considered complete. 

Basically, what you need to do is go through your plans day-by-day and write down what you think you'll need. Remember that what you forget is often not crucial, and if it is, it's probably replaceable! Try to cover all your bases, but remember not to stress the situation too much. This is supposed to be fun! 

Remember to choose the bag you'll bring! Since there's a possibility my friend and I will be traveling by bike, I decided to bring a backpack. I have a computer backpack I could bring, but since I'm not bringing my laptop & that particular bag is a bit of a funky shape, I'm bringing the backpack I always used to carry to school. It's bright blue with black accents, roomy, rad, & I love it! 

What should I wear...?!?!

Remember when I referred to myself as a "dyke fashionista" a few paragraphs back? That's totally true. I love funky style & I don't get to rock odd looks as much as I'd like. (This is mostly due to the fact that my work requires I wear old jeans & warm sweatshirts 90% of the time I'm clocked in.) While I'm certainly not as hyper-feminine as I once was, that definitely does not mean that I don't care about putting together outfits. 

For the weekend, I put together three full outfits that can more-or-less be mixed-and-matched. (That is, if you ignore the fact that the print skinnies won't pair well with the plaid button-down.)
One outfit is what I will wear on the plane Friday afternoon. I designed that set to be laid-back, comfortable, and heavy on the layers. By wearing two tank tops paired under a favorite sweatshirt, I'll be prepared for one flight to be frigid while the other is sweltering. The jeans are intensely comfortable -- flared, loose blue denim with a nice stretch & a solid fit. To maximize packing space in my bag, I'm wearing my crystal necklace, sneakers, and activism bracelets to the airport. (I wear those three things almost all the time anyways, but that's besides the point!) 

The other two daytime outfits do not have set days, and will probably be accompanied by the hoodie & jewelry from the flight. (Uhm, and obviously the shoes, too!) One is a pairing of a spiffy red plaid button-down with the sparkle-butt jeans from Friday, and the other is tortoiseshell-print skinny pants paired with a chopped-up Nirvana tee. Since I have the hoodie, those are both suitable for colder days as well as warmer. If it's incredibly warm, I can always wear my black tank top instead of a shirt. However, visiting somewhere in Alaska in May doesn't call for shorts, or even skirts! 

Pajamas are important. I've set aside my polka-dot lounge pants & my Oregon Coast PFLAG shirt for that purpose. If I was a bit less dedicated to keeping my bag light & small, I could potentially bring slippers. Those are useful since I refuse to sleep in socks! 

When in doubt...

...Throw it out! (Of your suitcase, that is.) There are many things I would like to bring, like Natalie my old film Nikon, or my laptop so I can blog on the go, or my glittery high heels because, well, why not? The bottom line is, each of those things takes up room in my backpack & they're not necessary. I wouldn't wear the shoes, and if I did I wouldn't be able to walk. Right now, film is tough for me to develop & the digital memories will be instant as well as free. As for my laptop & blogging... It'd be fun to bring the computer along, but I probably wouldn't write on it at all, and at 17.3 inches it's too wide & unwieldy to carry comfortably. 

Making it all fit: pro tips to condensed packing. 

Here's my packing steps. 

  • Roll up your clothes & put them in first. 
  • Second, nestle fragile items (in this case, the camera) in the center of the clothing.
  • Fit everything else where it fits. If you're carrying and back & have books or other stiff board-like objects, putting them near your back helps. Anything lumpy, however, should not be against your back.
  • Carry around the bag for a few minutes. If it's uncomfortable, repack. If it's heavy, reduce the content. 


Where are you going next? Where is your dream weekend destination? Let us know in the comments! XOXO!



  1. Great post! I am a frequent traveller and I learn The hard way of create a perfect backpack :)

  2. Nice- I am traveling in a few weeks and needed these reminders...I try to bring my whole wardrobe every time but end up wanting to wear the same dirty jeans the entire trip!