What You Don't Need to Pack When Setting Up for Months of Adventure
10 Things I Brought for 5 Months of Travel … That I Have Yet to Use
So, I’ve already confessed to being an overpacker, but I wanted to get super honest and share some of the (looking back on it) ridiculous stuff I packed for this long (January til mid-April) trip. I can rationalize all I want, but the moral is that I brought a lot of crap that I didn’t wear or use. If you’re packing for a long, adventure-heavy trip, learn from my mistakes.
My mother, by the way, is going to crack up when she reads this, or any of my recent posts, really. As someone who used to spend HOURS packing her Barbie’s suitcases (and unpacking, and repacking) while narrating what she was bringing (“a crisp white tennis skirt,” said 7-year-old Molly), I have been list-obsessed and packing-obsessed as long as I can remember.
But on to the list!
Fancy dress: I have a short sleeve fitted black dress made of jersey material. It would have been easy enough to toss a big necklace on, plus heels, and it would be fancy enough for 99 percent of occasions. Any formal affairs that came up otherwise, I could have just bought or borrowed something (note: this has NEVER happened).
Silk blouses: I love a silk blouse. I think the fabric is beautiful and makes a normal piece of clothing a lot chicer. But if you’re mostly traveling and jumping from place to place, silk is simply a bad move. It wrinkles. Badly. So yes, that also meant I brought along my travel steamer (also, my only steamer). Amount of times I used it? 0. Amount of times I wore said silk camisoles (that I really do love)? 0. Fancy stuff = better saved for home.
Multiple jeans: Being gone for 5 months, I brought 4 pairs of jeans (boyfriend, flares, skinny and black). Problem? I wear leggings most of the time, and the other times, I’m in sport-specific clothing or my denim shorts. Jeans, I’ve worn a couple times when I wanted to be a bit dressier, but honestly, I could have just worn a dress, or a nicer sweater with leggings.
That ultra-specific piece of gear for X sport: I have a few of these, but the one that really comes to mind is my run pack. It’s kind of bulky, and I’ve used it once in the last four months. Worth it? I don’t know that I can honestly say that. My big MTB “mini pump”? Hasn’t come with me on any ride, because I always grab my tiny one instead. Ditto CO2s, because I don’t like relying on them versus a pump—it’s a personal preference (and a cost-saving one, but more on that later!). Anyway, think about what gear you ALWAYS need.
A keyboard for my iPad: I thought this was genius and would get a ton of use. I’ve used it maybe once, because if I’m going to do work, I have my computer. If I’m not, I have a notebook to write in, and my iPad is stocked with tons of books that I can read, that are all part of continuing ed and count as ‘work adjacent’ anyway.
3 pairs of sandals: I maybe needed one for the couple occasions I haven’t been walking around, but those times were so infrequent it was ridiculous. We walked everywhere, including every date night, so I always ended up in sneakers. I had a pair of booties that were great for cold weather and would have transitioned fine for warm weather if I needed something fancy, so really, my thinnest, beach-iest sandals would have handled every eventuality.
10 pairs of bike shorts/jerseys/running shorts: You will inevitably end up wearing your three favorite pairs. Do yourself a favor and admit this fact to yourself before you pack. Unless you’re driving into the bush and know you’ll go 10 days without water or laundry, you’re fine to go with three of each, max. (I give myself a minor pass on this on the grounds that some were kit I was reviewing. But still.)
Really, multiples of anything: Beyond 3, you don’t need it. 3 pairs of leggings, maybe a couple of active-specific leggings if you’re gone for a while/have different weights for different climates. 3 sleeveless tops. 3 tshirts. 3 long-sleeves. Et cetera. This is a rule I’m definitely going to take to heart next time I pack, because what I’ve come to realize is that even with a huge suitcase of options, I have the same basics. And for things like cycling caps or a bathing suit, ask yourself if you need more than one (at the moment, I have three caps. But I don’t really know if I regret this, since I wear them a lot).
I’ll be back to talk about the 10 things I couldn’t live without on trips soon! In the meantime, let me know in the comments: what’s the dumbest thing you’ve wasted packing space on?