Packing: Road trip edition

We spent most of our two days in Eugene focused on preparing and packing for this three-month road trip, and thought we’d share a little about how that went.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what it takes for us to drive across Canada and back for approximately 3 months … including two wedding weekends full of formal events, many weeks of camping, plenty of not camping (i.e. normal clothing time), grad school campus visits, and a huge variety of climates and regions.

Camping supplies: 1 tent, 2 sleeping bags, 2 sleeping pads, 1 egg crate mattress cover, 2 pillows, 2 camping chairs, 2 head lamps, 1 compass, 2 flash lights, 1 hatchet, 2 Camelbak water systems, 1 electric lantern, extra batteries, 1 roll duct tape, 1 large cooler and 2 ice packs

Car supplies/random supplies: 2 umbrellas, 1 first aid kit, 1 emergency car kit, 1 set tire chains, 2 heavy ponchos, 1 road atlas, 1 guide to Canadian campsites, approximately 15 maps and 10 Tour Guide books (thank you, AAA), 1 bottle laundry detergent, 2 padlocks

Cooking supplies: 1 two-burner propane camping stove + 2 cans of propane, 2 plates, 3 bowls, 3 sets of silverware, 2 travel mugs, 2 plastic cups with straws, 2 water bottles, 2 tupperware containers, 1 flask, 1 thermos, 2 rubber spatulas, 1 chef’s knife, 1 pair kitchen shears, 1 can opener, 1 citrus squeezer, 1 liquid measuring cup, 1 pair metal tongs, 2 plastic cutting boards, 1 corkscrew, coffee filters + red plastic coffee thingy, SodaStream + two bottles (yes, seriously), 1 set camping pots, 1 10″ cast iron skillet, 2 kitchen towels, ziploc baggies, 1 roll of paper towels, 1 bottle liquid soap

Food (all non-perishables until we start camping): 1 bottle olive oil, 1 bottle balsamic vinegar, sea salt, pepper, red chili flakes, 4 heads garlic, 4 yellow onions, 6 packets of concentrated chicken broth, 2 cans anchovies, 2 boxes macaroni and cheese, 1 box Israeli couscous, 1 box quinoa, 2 cans turkey chili, 2 cans pinto beans, 1 can black beans, 2 cans Albacore in water, 2 cans Albacore in oil, 1 can green chilis, 2 cans chipotles in adobo, 1 can El Pato salsa, 4 packets Indian food from Trader Joe’s, 1 box cereal, 1 bag of granola, 3 cartons plain soy milk, 1 jar peanut butter, 1 bottle maple syrup, 1 box just-add-water pancake mix, 3 bags pasta, 1 bag raisins, 1 bag dried cranberries, 1 bag dried apricots, 1 huge can of peanuts, 1 bag honey roasted peanuts, approximately 10 energy bars, 1 canister quick-cook steel cut oats, 1 bag brown sugar, 1 box Triscuits, 2 huge boxes Peppermint tea, 1 canister ground coffee, 1 bag peppermint hot chocolate, 1 bag Persian hot chocolate, 1 dozen Emergen-C packets, 4 bottles plus 1 box wine, 10 beers (more will be purchased, don’t worry), 1 bottle bourbon, 1 bottle irish whiskey, 1 bottle gin, 1 bottle tonic syrup (for SodaStream), and absolutely no dessert, which I just realized and which makes me very, very anxious.

Entertainment: A few dozen CDs, iPhones loaded with podcasts, music, and audio books, 4 books for each of us, 1 French phrase book, laptops and chargers, camera and charger, tripod, 2 decks of cards, 1 travel Scrabble set, 10 skeins of yarn and a crochet needle, The Joy of Cooking, 1 binder of recipes

Bowen clothes and personal items: 2 pairs jeans, 1 pair camping pants, 1 pair running tights, 1 pair fleece pants, 2 pairs khaki shorts, 1 pair athletic/hiking shorts, 1 black jersey skirt, 2 casual dresses, 1 cardigan, 3 tank tops, 2 t-shirts, 1 running/athletic top, 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 pullover shirts/sweaters, 3 scarves, 1 down vest, 1 down puffy coat, 1 mid-weight fleece jacket, 1 rain jacket, 1 athletic/running jacket, 10 pairs underwear, 2 bras, 1 sports bra, 1 knee brace, 8 pairs socks (2 wool, 3 athletic, 3 other), 1 pair tights, 1 pair running shoes, 1 pair hiking boots, 1 pair Keens hiking sandals, 2 pairs casual sandals, 1 pair riding boots, 1 pair high heels, 1 wool hat, 1 pair gloves, 1 swim suit, contacts/solution/case, shave cream/razor, body wash, toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, face wash and headband, deodorant, tampons, Q-tips, comb, hair dryer, a bit of jewelry, a few makeup items, hair pins and ties (bridesmaid dress and shoes already in LA, but will continue on with us)

Brett clothes: 3 pairs hiking socks, 2 pairs athletic socks, 1 pair white socks, 3 pairs black socks, 1 pair jeans, 1 pair khakis, 1 pair travel zip-off pants/shorts, 1 pairs shorts, 1 pair athletic shorts, 10 pairs boxers, 4 t-shirts, 4 button-down short sleeve shirts, 1 long sleeve athletic shirt, 2 button-down long sleeve shirts, 2 flannel shirts, 1 dress shirt, 1 bow tie, 1 pair suspenders, 1 fleece vest, 1 sweatshirt, 1 fleece jacket, 1 down puffy coat, 1 pair gloves, 1 scarf, 1 wool hat, 1 baseball hat, 1 pair running shoes, 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair hiking boots, 1 pair leather walking shoes, 1 pair Keens sandals, contacts/solution/case, shave cream/razor, 1 bar soap, toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, deodorant (suit and dress shoes already in LA, but will continue on with us)

Other: allergy medication, nail clippers, tweezers, bug spray, sun block, Ibuprofen, shampoo and conditioner, passports, 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks, various bins and bags

And all that stuff needed to go in here:

But we did it!

How did we do it, you ask?

Well. We learned some pretty good packing lessons from last week’s road trip, including the following:

  1. Put everything in bins, bags, or pockets, and commit to always returning those items to those places. Don’t let things float or get piled around the car! This also helps so that you can’t see specific items from the outside of the car, and thus reduce the risk of theft (which is a particularly scary prospect when everything you own and need for the next three months sits in your car most of each day).
  2. Always have a trash/recycling bag in the car, use it, and clear it out whenever you get somewhere (I say this with full recognition that a plastic container with the last bites of today’s coleslaw has been residing in the center console of the car for about 12 hours now, and will be there at least until lunchtime tomorrow. WHOOPS.)
  3. Bring everything you want to pack into the car outside at the same time, then pack it all in. It’s much easier to pack the car efficiently when you see everything you need to fit in.
  4. Locate and categorize things so that when you stay somewhere for the night, it’s easy to take in what you need and leave the rest. We know exactly which bags and bins need to come out of the car when we’re not camping, and which can stay in the car, and items from these two categories do not contaminate each other.
  5. If you’re camping or otherwise living out of the car and you’re using suitcases, try to find a way to lay them flat without too much stuff piled on top – that way you can open them and access your stuff without having to haul the bags in and out of the car.
  6. Get to know your car – We’ve always been surprised at how much our car can hold, but we took a bit of time to explore the car and found some really great extra packing spaces. Turns out there’s a pretty big compartment under the floor of the trunk (above the spare tire), and a little secret compartment on the side, both of which we had no idea existed. We’re storing stuff in those places that we won’t need for a while, like our winter coats, our dressier shoes, and some extra books. The pockets behind the seats, the glove compartment, and the center console also turned out to be great storage spaces, along with underneath both of the seats. We also decided to put down the rear seats (creating one huge space behind the driver and passenger seats), and found we could fit a ton more stuff that way.

Flat suitcases! (Mine’s behind the red one, under that green backpack.)

Secret compartment! Full of books and bags and shoes and puffy coats!

All this meant that packing the car was actually quite easy, and we ended up with plenty of extra space to be used for things like seeing out of the back windshield (handy) and acquiring more stuff (fun, but probably not the best idea).

I see you, back windshield! 


9 responses to “Packing: Road trip edition

  1. Oh man! I just found your blog and I’m super jealous! Have a great time and keep up the posts.


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