The Re-Packing Project

by gigigriffis

When I first left Colorado, first dove off into the unknown world of working from the road, I was secretly a little unsure. Maybe I’d want to come back. Maybe I’d have trouble finding clients. Maybe I wouldn’t like being endlessly moving, endlessly making new friends, much of the time alone.

Now, though, after four months without a fixed address, I’m feeling braver.

I feel even more drawn to Europe than I did when I first left the states.

I have picked up a new client or two along the way and my relationships with my ongoing U.S. clients are going strong.

I love starting over in a new place.

I’ve built a sweet little network of friends and loved ones all across Europe.

And I am no longer afraid of being alone. In fact, more and more, I think it’s a quite nice state of being sometimes (and it’s not a permanent one. I was mostly alone in Scotland, it’s true, but in Belgium, I was surrounded by friends. I was alone for most of my time in Germany, but almost never alone in Paris and Spain).

So, you see, I am cut out for this full-time travel thing.

And while that doesn’t mean I’ll never come back to Colorado and it doesn’t mean I won’t have a home base someplace, it does mean that I don’t need so many things tying me down.

So it’s time to sell my car and my hair dryer, tie up some loose ends, and re-pack my life for more than just a summer.

Of course, re-packing my life for more than one summer brings with it a lot more challenges than packing for a summer. Like winter coats. Or hiking boots, for example.

Good thing I bought a really big hiking backpack, right?

Still, it’s going to be a challenge. Which is maybe where you guys come in—stylish, practical, well-traveled people that you are.

With limited space, variable needs, and a slant toward minimalism, everything I pack must:

  • Be durable enough to last at least a few months of travel (preferably longer)
  • Be as multi-purpose as possible (hiking boots should double as city-walking shoes; shampoo can also play the role of soap)
  • Be cute and match (being a full-time traveler is no reason to look like a slob…and everything should go with everything else in the bag)
  • Be compact (if I can’t fold it, crush it, or tuck it, it probably won’t work for me)
  • Be healthy and environmentally friendly

With these criterion in mind, I’ve started a wish-list for my re-packing adventures. Below is the general version (and here’s the Pinterest board):

  • Crushable/collapsible dog bowl(s)
  • A crushable/extremely portable, cute day bag that can double as a purse or a grocery bag
  • Portable athletic shoes that work for hiking as well as city-exploring
  • A ski jacket for winter temps and/or possible attempts at learning to ski
  • A pair of cute shoes that I can walk in comfortably all day (and that still look nice with a dress)
  • A durable hoodie that won’t stretch and/or come apart in the first few months of travel (I’m looking at you, two sweatshirts I brought last time)

I’m also considering buying a pair of small shears for cutting Luna’s hair along the way. It’s much cheaper than getting her groomed on the road and the shears would double as scissors as needed.

So, anyone have suggestions for multi-purpose, durable travel items? Is there anything you take with you on your travels that you just couldn’t live without? Who makes the best ski jackets and hiking shoes?

Please leave your suggestions below! (And stay tuned for all my delightful discoveries!)

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17 comments

Roommate #1 October 10, 2012 - 7:48 am

YES! A ski jacket for learning to ski!
There are lots of good brands out there (I happen to have ski stuff from Columbia, North Face, Marmot, and Mountain Hardware that I think is really good and has lasted a long time). Here are my tips:
1. Get one with a hood. You are going to wish you had it eventually. They make them detachable so you don’t have to wear a hood all the time.
2. A good new ski jacket will be expensive (in the couple to few hundred dollar range). If you go to a “ski swap” or other similar ski-related festival (they have these sorts of things in Denver), you can get good, lightly used stuff for cheaper.
3. Get one that is waterproof or has a detachable waterproof shell, especially if you are looking to have one all-purpose jacket. A surprising amount of “winter” jackets are not actually waterproof.
4. You can get jackets that have several layers that come apart (such as the waterproof shell, a fleece lining, etc). You should probably look for one of these so you will have one item that works for all types of winter weather.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Oh, except: Merrell makes good hiking boots. If your feet don’t need a lot of support and you’re not doing multi-day backpacking through rivers and snow, you can hike in trail-running shoes. I use Nikes for most of my trail adventures.

Cheers to the outdoors!

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Gigi October 10, 2012 - 9:57 am

Thanks, love!

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Brianna October 10, 2012 - 10:30 am

Two crucial things I discovered while on my own traveling adventure:

Tip 1: Go to http://www.lushusa.com/ to purchase dry blocks of any number of costmetic products from shampoo and conditioner to body lotion and scrub. Not only will you not have to worry about the small travel bottle of liquid, but your weight is dramatically decreased. Also, there are lush stores throughout the world, so you can re-stock fairly easily. AND all products are all-natural and smell wonderful. I wish I would have known about this BEFORE packing.

Tip 2: Get one of those rolled up cosmetic cases that separate all your cosmetics, make-up and jewelry. I’m sure you already had this, but on the off chance you didn’t–it’s a lifesaver!

Tip 3: Pay a little more to get a multi-use make-up. The Nars Orgasim collection has the best overall reviews for being compatible with every skin tone. Here’s an example http://www.narscosmetics.com/iconic-nars/orgasm-collection/~/orgasm-multiple

Tip 4: Buy the best long underwear in the world–Techwick, sold at EMS. Or get a few high quality leggings to be worn under pants for cold and with long shirts for warmer. The material is light for packing/carrying, but the variety it will add to outfits and comfort will be so helpful! http://www.ems.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=11580418

Tip 5: Got this from my sister! Get an insulated water bottle that will hold warm or cold so you don’t need both when stopping for drinks. http://www.thetravelingadvisor.com/2012/09/25/packing-like-a-pro/

Tip 6: (You won’t like this!) Get a Kindle or iPad for digital books, magazine subscriptions, and newspapers. You will have all of your favorite books without lugging the bookshelf. Also you can read magazines that you love without a permanent address or the high in-store cost of purchase.

Hope one or two of these were helpful! I’m sure you already own or have thought about some, but I was just giving what I knew. Good luck!

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Brianna October 10, 2012 - 10:31 am

Oops! I guess I had more than two and forgot to go back to change it! My bad.

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julia October 10, 2012 - 10:58 am

This company out of Boulder makes reasonably priced down coats that are collapsible. They have a store in the Castle Rock Outlets:

http://www.golite.com/default.aspx

They also care about sustainability.

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gigigriffis October 10, 2012 - 11:08 am

@Bri, thanks! You’re right that #6 isn’t my cup of tea, but I DO use my computer to read many magazines/publications/books. I just also like to grab free or cheap books along the way and electronic options are a bit too expensive for me to use for all my reading.

I’ve never heard of #1 or #4, so I’m definitely going to check those out!

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gigigriffis October 10, 2012 - 11:11 am

@Julia, thanks! They also look cute, which is a huge bonus.

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EthelQ October 11, 2012 - 12:56 am

I have to second the Lush comment; their stuff is great, lasts a long time with proper care, and has solid options for everything (even toothpaste and face moisturizer). Honestly, I use their products year round, whether I’m traveling or not.

Additionally, if you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap, you should try a bar. I use it on my body, to brush my teeth in a pinch, applied dry it works as a deodorant, and it’s great for washing dishes and clothes, which can be handy on the road.

I wash my dogs with Dr. Bronner’s, then give them a little trim with scissors and a comb (using the comb under the scissors to protect from accidental nicks). I’ve tried shears and shavers, and I honestly like the scissors better, as I’m used to using them and can clean them to use for other scissory things.

Reuseit.com has great options for environmentally friendly items. I particularly like their snack bags and to-go food holders. When I travel I can pack my own food, replenish at grocery stores, or stop in at a restaurant without worrying about taking home a Styrofoam box.

Lastly (sorry this is so long), I’ve tried all the high-tech travel and camping wear, and I just don’t like it. It always looks weird, and feels forced. I just wear clothes I like in natural fabrics from quality companies, with a strict color palette and system of layering in mind. I only own black, grey, khaki, green, or purple clothing, and take tank tops, leggings, cardigans, scarves, and pants everywhere. I can wear the tank tops under long sleeved shirts, the leggings under the pants, and the natural fabric makes it easy to wash and dry my clothes. Everything matches everything else, and it all feels comfortable to me whether I’m going out to dinner or digging in the sand.

Sorry for the long comment, I just love the topic, and your blog. And pictures of Luna, I’m a sucker for little dogs.

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EthelQ October 11, 2012 - 12:58 am

Sorry, I forgot the most important thing, though I’m not sure how affordable this would be with international travel: a smartphone eliminates the need for a camera, reading device, GPS, and a slew of other gadgets. There really is an app for everything, and the internet access is a lifesaver in a pinch.

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gigigriffis October 11, 2012 - 9:13 am

@EthelQ – No need to apologize. This is great stuff and deserves a long comment! Thank you! After all these comments, I feel like I have tons of starting points for my research/options!

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Kay Dougherty October 11, 2012 - 9:23 am

Hi Gigi! It was fun meeting you and Luna in Girona. For your hoodie question I recommend LuLuLemon’s. In one sense their stuff is expensive but it lasts forever and always keeps its looks and strength. On a cost per use basis I think it’s a bargain.

Will you have to check your luggage if you buy scissors for Ms. Luna? If you already check then getting them makes sense. My sister and I always wish we had a pair of scissors with us and never do because we only pack carry-ons.

Also don’t forget a flashlight/torch or, if you have a Smartphone, an app that acts as one (what I now use instead).

Have safe, fun travels!

“The Blonde”

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gigigriffis October 11, 2012 - 9:52 am

@Kay, nice to meet you as well!

I have to check my bag anyway (it’s too big to be a carry-on and, since I have the dog as my carry-on, I’m left with just my “personal item” that I’m allowed to bring on), so the scissors thing shouldn’t be a problem.

Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check out LuLuLemon’s. And you’re right about a flashlight. I needed one several times this summer and just used my phone instead. :)

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How to Stay Stylish While Living Out of a Bag, Part I | the ramble January 10, 2013 - 5:18 am

[…] special shout out to everyone who left me packing and gear tips back in October, especially EthelQ who has a super similar packing system and said […]

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Gigi...too! January 25, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Can you repost your Pinterest site…I looked but could not find you!

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gigigriffis January 26, 2013 - 1:54 am

Sure – fixed the link above and here it is as well: http://pinterest.com/gigirgriffis/the-re-packing-project-final/

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