Adventure Packing

What Is Adventure Packing?

I proclaim myself to be a professional packer… really. I’m not talking about packing for a three day business trip. OMG, that would throw me for a loop….folded and ironed and starched shirts (3), skirts (2) color coordinated , one pair of pressed pants, three thongs (oops, I mean practical panties) and two pairs of shoes all in a roll aboard…. Perfect…wait!…what about the running clothes? and if I find a place to swim (need two bikinis, sunscreen and goggles for swimming laps) and if there are mountains then I’ll need my tent and backpack and and and….I never travel without my passport and dive gear….

No, my specialty is adventure packing. Last summer, I packed for a month of documentary film shooting in Maine followed by a month climbing in Tibet and three weeks diving in Malaysia including bringing dive gear for 12 people. Now THAT”s a packing job! Back to back trips with only hours in between (from Maine to Tibet I flew directly, actually re-packing on the Salt Lake City Airport floor and storing excess in a car trunk in a friend’s driveway). I’ve also had people meet me in airports to do complete bag swaps. It is SO MUCH FUN!

But the packing process is an intricate dance, a pas de deux if you will, between weight and necessity, between want and need, and between possible and probable.

4 Packing Must Do’s When Going on an Adventure

– pack using a list so you don’t forget anything

– finish packing a minimum of 24 hours prior to your departure to reduce stress

– weigh of your full suitcase(s) and know your luggage allowances – no surprises!

– have fun!

Adventure Packing with a List

Coordinating packing

Packing can be done in a snap. So, here is the great part! Want to make it more fun? Since you already have everything you need on a list, you won’t forget anything…so pour yourself a Pinot Noir, crank up the stereo and get to it!

Take each “section” of your list one at a time, don’t jump around. Pull out everything you need. Physically mark it off the list, circling anything that’s missing to be added later. Personally, I have everything in different parts of the house so I end up packing in many rooms. It allows me to compartmentalize and I don’t get stuck. So, all the clothes go on the bed including toiletries and shoes. I make stacks of shorts, t-shirts etc. This way if I “accidentally” stack 10 pairs of shorts for a 7 day trip I will see how big the pile is (even though my list says 4 pair, it’s hard not to add).

Does this all seem AMAZINGLY anal??? Well, here’s why. It’s because I am the exact opposite of anal that I need to pack this way so I have everything I want and need. If you are anal, this all may seem natural to you, if you are not and like me….this will help!

Ok, so the clothes are piled in stacks on the bed, the dive gear is in the downstairs library, the camera gear is in its roll aboard in the loft, and the paperwork and computer stuff is at my desk. Perfect!

Now, go back to the clothes and take some out! Yep, you heard me….I don’t know how much you have but I know it’s too much!! One pair of heels really WILL do and it’s ok to wear the same thing twice on vacation, trust me!!!

In terms of actually putting it in the suitcase, that’s just not terribly important…really its not. Answer me truthfully….you spend all this time folding everything just right, arranging it in the suitcase laying flat on the floor. Then you stand it up and wheel it to the airport where everything has now squished to the bottom of the bag. What you realize is that just like a bag of potato chips, it really is measured by weight and not volume because now that it’s all settled you have half the suitcase empty…yet it still weighs 49.9 lbs. Yes, you can get dividers and compartments etc…if it really matters to you, but it doesn’t to me. I take my stacks and place them in the bag. My husband likes to roll his t-shirts, that’s cool too.

I put my socks, undies, bathing suits and sleeping wear in the zippered portion of the inside lid (easy to find) and my vitamins and protein powder in the other. The keyword here is ZipLock Bags! You can never have too many (and I use them over and over so I’m not adding more plastic to the ocean!) I use them to contain similar items like vitamin packs and protein powder, to keep lotions and potions from exploding at 36,000 ft and for wet and smelly gear and dirty laundry.

Know Your Baggage Allowance

So, now it’s packed…weigh it. DON”T let it be a surprise at the airport. I recommend staying about 3-4 lbs below weight limits for a couple of reasons. First, I ALWAYS throw in something extra at the last minute before I leave the house. Second, it gives you a bit of breathing room for the way back if your clothes are damp (from a tropical location) or if you pick up a few trinkets. If you are a big shopper, I recommend sticking a lightweight duffel bag in your suitcase to pack your purchases and just expect to pay for the extra bag. You probably want to weigh your suitcase empty too. A “normal” suitcase will weigh upwards of 8-10 lbs!! Just think, if you had a bag that weighed 3lbs you could take your spotting scope! Think about it! It matters…

Its Party Time!

So, now you’re packed and ready to go, perhaps except for your carry on which we will address in the next post. The really cool thing is that you are packed and it’s still 24 hours before you leave! So now you can take tomorrow, relax, watch a movie or go to the climbing gym knowing that your vacation is ready to begin….or perhaps it has already started!

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    […] a few shorts and t-shirts in the bag.  For more ideas on packing check out our recent blogs on adventure packing and adventure packing lists.If you decide to take your own scuba diving equipment a couple of […]

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