What I wish I’d packed and what I definitely didn’t to pack for our Cali road trip…
There are many reasons why you lot are just THE BEST (aside from the fact that my most highly engaged with Instagram Stories were ones about iconic shoots from the early seasons of ‘America’s Next Top Model’), but up there has to be that the majority of you are here for organisation and packing content as much as I am *INSERT THE TWO HANDS IN THE AIR EMOJI*. Seeing as I shared my packing process with you here, I thought I’d give you the debrief of how I actually did once I was home, unpacked and had assessed my packing skills. It’s time for my conclusion, so here’s the good, the bad and the damn right unnecessary…
Overall I don’t think I did a terrible job with packing. Compared to our New Zealand trip, this was much tricker to prepare for. In N.Z we did walking, walking, a crazy canyon swing that made our butts feel like they had fallen out, followed by more walking. I knew that I’d wear leggings pretty much every single day and so packed pretty much exclusively activewear. This trip was a little different in that the walking and more outdoorsy parts of our trip, were peppered with city breaks where I knew I wouldn’t want to be looking like a Lululemon* fangirl; so I almost packed for two different holidays. Out of everything that I packed I wore it all aside from the two categories that I mentioned below, so I don’t think I did the worst. But if I was to do it all over again then there are some swaps that I’d make and some new rules that I would follow. Read on so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did…
WHAT I DID NEEDED (but forgot to bring)
1 X WALKING BOOTS. This was a major fail on my part. I literally saved a space in my suitcase for my walking boots, then when Mark remarked last-minute that he didn’t think I’d need them, I took them out and replaced them with trainers. Turns out that it snowed when we were in Yosemite and hardy, waterproof boots were a must. $35 dollars and a stop at a sports warehouse later, I kitted myself out with a brilliant pair but it was an unnecessary expense that I could have avoided.
1 X WALKING TROUSERS. A purchase that I also made at the aforementioned sports warehouse, this one wasn’t so unnecessary as I didn’t previously own a pair of waterproof trousers. I holiday with my family once a year in the Lake District (a thing that teenage me HATED, and adult me adores) and had always said that I needed a pair, so this was just the push I needed. Leggings are great, but sometimes you need an extra layer to keep the chill out. A must if you’re planning on doing any sort of hiking on your hols.
MORE T-SHIRTS. You can see from the photos here, that jeans and some kind of black or white t-shirt was what I wore pretty much every single day. I think I packed two black ones (I wore one on the plane) and a white one and I have no idea how I stretched out their wear so long when we only did one clothing wash along the way. I definitely could have done with some more options in my suitcase. They are easy, comfortable and don’t crease and ball up as bad as all the silk shirts that I bought with me.
1 X BOOTS. It wasn’t just walking boots that I needed, but just a pair of black flat casual boots too. Like my Acne Studios Jensen Boots*? They would have been perfect. Aside from trainers, every other shoe that I bought with me left my feet extremely exposed and weren’t ideal to wear in cold and wet conditions. A boot would have been the perfect thing to stomp around the cities in and also wear out for dinner in the evening when I didn’t want to rock up in my soggy trainers.
WHAT(I bought, but) I DIDN’T NEED
SILK SHIRTS. When I broke down our trip in my head I thought that I’d be needing my ‘proper’ clothing more than I would – you know the fancier stuff that you crack out on city stops like L.A and San Francisco, compared to the activewear that you’d wear in a National Park. However we actually made more outdoorsy stops than we made visits to the big cities. Silk shirts are a staple for me at home, but on holiday they crease like a M.F in your suitcase and seeing as it was a bit chillier whilst we were away than I expected, I was just too cold to wear them.
2 X REALISATION PAR DRESSES. I love my Realisation Par dresses. In Bali, the Julia Black & White Spot Dress, was basically all I wore. The silk is thin and breathable so perfect for sticky climates, but not so perfect for windy coastlines and brisk and chill mornings. Simply put – the weather wasn’t hot enough for them. Our final day in L.A once we’d completed our loop and just before we flew home was really hot, so I reckon if we’d taken our trip just a few weeks later then it would have been a different story.
COLOURFUL MAKEUP. I tend to just wear the bare bones of makeup whenever I go away, so I never really have the need for lipstick (I just wear a lip balm), or eyeshadow (I just wear mascara and a bare lid). I bought them with me this time to wear for the book event that I held in L.A, but aside from that I really didn’t use them. A tinted moisturiser, concealer, bronzer, brow product, mascara and a lip balm are more than enough for me to bring makeup-wise whenever I go away on holiday.
FIVE TIPS FOR HOLIDAY PACKING SUCCESS
Leave some space in your case. Over-packing is never fun, especially if you’re on a road trip and have to re-pack your belongings every couple of days. Whilst it’s tempting to pack for every possible weather condition, you’re better off saving space and buying the odd bit here and there if you *really* need it. You never know. You might end up needing to bring a pair of walking shoes home.
A thin down layer jacket is your best friend. This Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Compact Jacket might not look like the chicest thing I own, but it’s easily the most practical. Folding down into a pouch that’s smaller than the size of my fist, it’s the perfect layer to throw on over the top of clothing, or under a coat for an extra layer of warmth. If you’re travelling to someone that has the potential to be a little chilly, invest in a similar piece.
Check the weather reports (and then do further research). I know I always throw in the tip about checking the weather before you pack, but after experiencing every single season AND category of weather in California, for future trips I’ll now be doing a tad more research to take note of any odd weather conditions or storms that might affect our visit. This one is especially important if your trip lasts longer than the weather app can predict.
Packing cubes are LIFE. Packing cubes seem like a really unnecessary purchase, until you’re trying to find that *one* piece in your suitcase and have to throw every single item out of your suitcase to locate it. In order to utilise them to their best potential group similar items together; for example I had a bag for my pyjamas, a bag for underwear and then one bag for smarter clothing and one bag for casual activewear. Ones with a window and a handle are the best option – like these*.
Stick to a colour palette. You’ve heard this one a million times before, but there really was nothing that I took with me that didn’t work with every single other piece in my suitcase. I stuck to a palette of black, white and greys with tan patterns and accents, and a blue silk shirt that worked with all of the above. It sounds like a faff, but it’s worth putting in the time here and creating a cohesive capsule.
Photos by Mark and I taken on a Canon EOS3 & Canon Sure Shot BF on 35mm 200 ASA/ISO film
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