Overpacking and Repentance

Last summer and fall I was traveling regularly to Phoenix for a week at time. Phoenix had its special packing challenges, most notably outside temperatures well into the 100s, and inside temps as low as 65, but I eventually figured out what to pack (layers, thick wool socks and riding boots).

Now I am traveling regularly to the Washington DC area for a week at a time. DC is warmer in general than Colorado is, but much more humid, so weather in the 50s can be pretty miserable (here at home, that’s light sweater weather).

Last week I panicked about being too cold on my trip. Here’s what I found:

  • The hotel room was hot. I had to turn the thermostat down to 62F to get a reasonable room temperature.
  • The place I’m working in is hot. It’s a large room packed with people and computers.
  • The outside can be chilly and wet, but since my hotel is only a couple of miles from my workplace, and I’m working 12 hour shifts every day with no meal breaks (brown-bagging it), I’m spending very little time out of doors.

Last week’s packing mistakes included bringing too many clothes, and choosing clothes that were heavy and bulky. I wound up with my trusty travel tote (1800 cubic inches/30 liters) stuffed to bursting, plus an equally stuffed backpack, which I couldn’t carry on the back of the wheelchair without turning turtle. As I picked up my bag at baggage claim and tried to balance my backpack on top of it, I re-dedicated myself to bringing less stuff.

So what’s the answer? Layers, thick wool socks, and riding boots.

For next week’s trip, it’s back to basics: one to wear and two spares. This will all fit in my travel tote. I’ll bring my super tiny foldable daypack to carry my computer, lunch and whatnots to work every day.

Clothes (this includes what I wear on the plane):

  • 3 bottoms (long grey wool skirt, black pencil skirt, black stretch pants)
  • 3 sleeveless tank style tops (black, olive green, lilac)
  • 3 long sleeved tops (grey dolman sleeve sweater, green vee neck sweater, fuchsia scoop neck tee shirt)
  • 1 cardigan
  • 1 down jacket (bright fuchsia!)
  • 1 waterproof shell
  • Guilty Scarf Chomping Dog

    Who, me? Eat your scarf?

    1 pashmina (olive green teal, because somebody chomped up the green one)
  • 2 lightweight scarves (variations on green and purple)
  • 1 pair black merino leggings
  • 2 pairs of wool socks (medium and heavyweight)
  • 4 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 pair black tights
  • 1 swimsuit
  • brown riding boots
  • black low-heeled pumps
  • black casual/workout flats

Then there will be the usual toiletries and electronics and one (and only one) book, because I have a library card at my destination.

Light packing strategies to note here include:

  • Limited color palette: everything is black, grey, green or purple, and every top goes with every bottom
  • Layering potential: the leggings can be leggings, tights under either skirt, an extra layer under the pants, or exercise wear; the tank tops can go it alone, be layered under the cardigan, be an extra layer under the long sleeved tops, or be exercise tops; depending on the weather, I will wear the cardigan, down jacket and shell by themselves or in combinations of two or all three, so I’m set for everything from freezing rain/snow to sunny skies
  • Wearing the heaviest items: I will wear the grey sweater with a tank top under it, the long grey skirt with the leggings, the heavy socks (it’s cold on planes), the riding boots, and the down jacket on the plane
  • Multipurpose items: the tank tops and leggings will do triple duty as underlayers, exercise wear, and nightwear
  • Plan to wash: underwear, tanks tops and leggings will wash in a jiffy and dry overnight

1 Comment

  1. LadyLightTravel

    This is a pretty much perfect list. I’m a big fan of the sleeveless shell / cardigan combination. The cardigan can be buttoned up / worn open in varying degrees to accomodate different temperatures.


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