Pack it light

This week I’m preparing for my train trip across country.  Although I normally am a light packer when it comes to travel, I’m going to focus on being even more efficient for this trip as I’ll be away for around 3 to 4 weeks (still TBD) and I’ll be in varying climates.  Since I’ll need to spend a little time on this, I figured I might as well write a blog about it to share with others about light weight packing for vacation.  I normally only pack items that I can carry on.  The only time I place things under the cabin is when I’m moving. If it doesn’t fit than you can probably live without it while you are traveling.

Let’s start out with a list of the place I will be traveling to.  I’m starting in Chicago for the weekend, then jumping on the train to Salt Lake City and ending in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Depending on dates and when I can start a temporary job assignment, I might also go skiing and hit up New Orleans on the way back.  It’s a big round trip with a lot of different climates to pack for.  To top it off, I’ll be on a train for about two and a half day of the trip – so I want to make sure I am extra comfy while I’m actually traveling.

Now, what to pack.  Basics.  That’s it.  I pretty much will only pack the basics – clothes, hygiene, travel essentials, and some entertainment.  If you haven’t been to the area before, then I highly suggest researching the weather for your travel time.  This may seem obvious, but I have been a victim of thinking I know what the weather is going to be like and be completely wrong.  This happens a lot for people planning on traveling to San Francisco in the summer.  Let’s me save you the hassle, bring a sweater with you and you’ll be okay.

The following I’ll be packing in my carryon bag.  For this trip I’m going to use a lightweight hiking 45L hiking pack I bought at REI.  I love it.  It’s a great bag.  I use it for backpacking (hiking) and travel.

Clothes – I’ll need items to wear for climates as low as 10 degrees to as high as 50 degrees (you never know with how this weather is going lately).  Layers it is.  Lots of them – and items that I can mix and match.  I make sure to roll these items tightly when I’m packing them to save as much room as possible.  I wear the bulkier stuff to save more room – for this trip, that would be the boots and sweater.image

  • 2 pairs of stretchy yoga type pants (I really love being a girl in the 21st century)
  • 4 shirts of varying sleeve length
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 log sleeve cover up thingy
  • 1 PJ bottoms – use a shirt you already have for the top
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 set of long underwear
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 knit hat
  • 1 knit cowl (it’s like a small scarf)
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 pair easy slip on shoes – I find I hate to tie shoes, even more so when I’m traveling.  It’s likely I will dread having to run to the bathroom while on the train if I’ll actually have to tie my shoes
  • 1 pair of small boots – it’s winter, so this is a necessary.  I wear these while traveling so it doesn’t take up as much room in my luggage

Hygiene – I tend to lean more towards anything non-liquid.  This is an old habit from flying a lot.  It also saves on packaging (save the planet!).  Here is a list of the items I pack for personal hygiene.  I’ve listed where you can buy them in case you are wondering.  For anything in bar form, I cut of a piece that I believe will last me throughout my trip, this way I don’t bring more than what I need.  Don’t worry if you don’t bring enough, you can probably pick up a travel size version most place you travel to – even if it’s not the product you normally use.  Which, for some items, you might consider picking them up once you arrive at your destination, to save on space in your luggage.image

  • Shampoo Bar – its exactly what you think it is.  I used to buy them from LUSH but I’ve found some Whole Foods also carry shampoo bars
  • Conditioner Bar – I’ve only found at LUSH.
  • Bar soap
  • Facial Soap Bar
  • Moisturizer – I use one of the little sample tubs I get from Sephora or LUSH to hold my own moisturizer
  • Travel toothbrush – my normal toothbrush I bought from Whole Foods.  It has a handle and you just replace to head to save on plastic use.  I normally just take the head off my toothbrush and use that as my travel toothbrush.  I recent bought a case that it fits in, which helps to keep it clean.
  • Toothy Tabs (toothpaste) – a little tablet you chomp up a bit and then start brushing your teeth with.  This way you don’t have a paste/liquid.  I buy these from LUSH.  Side note, I ran out of these and I don’t want to go find a LUSH in Columbus, so I’m just going to use a sample toothpaste from my dentist.
  • Sample size floss – I save from my dentist cleanings
  • Travel size deodorant
  • Sample perfume – I go to Sephora and ask for a sample of something I’m thinking about buying.  It works two fold because I can try something new out and it’s small
  • Makeup – I don’t wear a lot, but I like to have it on hand when I’m going out.  I will usually only bring a travel size BB cream, mascara, eyeliner and chapstick (tinted if you must have color on your lips)

In my personal carry on (aka, the awesome purse my sister bought me for Christmas) I’ll be stocking with my travel essentials and entertainment.  You need to make sure this is in the small bag you can keep under your seat for easy access.

Travel Essentials – these are the items I need while I’m traveling which help to make my trip more comfortable.

  • Snacks – usually granola bars, peanut M&Ms, jerky and some type of dried fruit
  • Water bottle – I usually bring my 1L Nalgene, but I have a new fold up  water bottle which I will be testing out on this trip – the only issue I see with it is that it is only 21 oz. (boo!)
  • Spork – seriously, everyone should have at least 1 spork to travel with.  My sister (the awesome one that also bought me the bag) gave me a titanium spork when I was living in London.  I took that thing with me to every country I visited in Europe and Asia once I moved to Thailand.
  • Bandana – they are very versatile, trust me and bring one with
  • Inflatable Pillow
  • Pack Small Microfiber Towel – this item doubles as a blanket.  The best one I ever bought was a Karrimor from the UK.  It was the size of a throw blanket.  Sadly, that one was lost to me when someone smashed in the window of my car and stole the bag with it in.  Even sadder, they no longer make this item.  For now, I have been using a yoga towel that seems to work well for both uses, but doesn’t quite work as a blanket as it is more towel shaped, but I make it work.

Entertainment – I like to bring a couple of small items with me that I can use to keep entertained while traveling.

  • Kindle – I love my kindle.  It has so many books stored in it I could ready non-stop for months.  If I get bored reading one book, then I’ll just open up a different one.  Plus, it’s super small and lightweight so it fits easily in my purse.
  • Monopoly Deal – I bring this with me when I’m traveling as something to play with people I’m traveling with.  If I’m traveling solo, then it gives me something to use to meet new people.  Trust me, I’ve made many people addicted to this game.

There are a few items that are specific to this trip that I’m planning on bring as well.  They are:

  • 2L Water Reservoir – Since I’ll be on the train, I would prefer not to buy a lot of water bottles.  I’m very anti prepackaged water.  TAB WATER YO!
  • First meal on the train – I don’t want to buy all my food on the train, so I’m going to bring something on for the first meal I have on the each train trip.
  • Phone & phone accessories – including to use it as a camera

2 thoughts on “Pack it light

  1. Catching up! What a fantastic trip…I love Amtrak but don’t get to use them very much. If you go to NOLA that train (the Sunset Limited) goes through Houston. If nothing else, we could meet you at the station for the few minutes the train stops here…or if you want to check out Houston, we can help with that, too.

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