6 Packing Tips for Active Trips
It has taken me a decade to perfect the art of packing. And sometimes, I still arrive and feel that I’ve over-packed (luckily, not that I’ve under-packed). There are a bazillion articles out there about packing—rolling vs. folding, what to never travel without, best packing accessories, etc. I’m writing from the specific perspective of an adventure traveler who just finished packing for an active trip to Portugal, one of our new destinations for 2018!
Here is my packing philosophy:
Choose the bag first to help define your capacity, instead of choosing all your clothes and then picking the bag that they fit into. The biggest factor in this decision should be whether you plan to check said bag. I always aim for a carry-on for 2 simple reasons: there is no risk of lost luggage and I’m in and out of the airport that much faster not having to wait at baggage claim. Although, when I bring my hiking poles, I have no choice but to check my bag.
Choose clothes that are convertible and multi-purpose. Whoever invented zip-off pants was a genius! If you don’t have a pair, get one (or two!)—it’s a packing and traveling game-changer. Pants and shorts in one unit! I also have a windbreaker with zip-off sleeves. These are the first things I pack. Then I go for the things that I can use at least two ways such as T-shirts that can double as base layers. Everything you pack should be able to be worn more than once and used in multiple ways.
Pack wool or synthetics. Both materials are moisture-wicking. Synthetics will dry quickly, and wool will keep you warm even when it’s wet. Not only will you be more comfortable on the trail, but for synthetics, you can wash and dry them overnight and feel fresh in the morning. This means you can pack less since you don’t need a new shirt each day. Synthetic “hiking” underwear is a great idea, and wool socks are a must (check out Darn Tough or Ibex, two of our Vermont neighbors that make fabulous wool activewear).
You can wear the same clothes to dinner multiple nights. No one will judge you—not our guides, nor your fellow travelers, nor the hotel and wait staff (they won’t even notice). Everyone knows you have a closet full of clothes at home that you didn’t bring. Plus, after you get off the trail, wash-up, and change, you are only wearing your “dinner outfit” for a few hours each evening. If you want to change things up without bringing several separate outfits, bring a scarf, a pullover, or a vest.
You only need 2 pairs of shoes. Really. You’ll be active for most of the trip, so obviously a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking/hiking shoes or boots is necessary. The second pair is for when you’re in the hotel, exploring town, or going to dinner. Give your feet a break and have something a bit nicer than trail-worn shoes for the restaurant. Sandals are an obvious choice for warm weather or slip-on canvas shoes are a good option since they can squish easily in your luggage. I always wear my hiking boots on the plane as they are big and would otherwise take up a lot of valuable packing space. This is especially important for checked bags as it would be awful to arrive for a hiking adventure without them.
Be ruthless. Do you really need a 6th shirt or 2 pairs of jeans for a week-long trip? Or the fleece jacket and the pullover? Obviously, you want to be prepared, and we want you to be prepared, but just remember: you’re not going away forever. If you get to your destination and feel you absolutely can’t get by without something you left at home, you can most likely find it locally.
Now, go forth, pack, and have a great trip!