I’m leaving again today for Ireland, and in a fit of procrastination, I organized everything in my to-pack pile and took a picture.
Here it is!
I’m pretty proud of myself – every housemate that’s walked into the living room in the last twenty minutes exclaimed, “Oh! It’s so organized!”
(True confession: I never, ever pack like this. There’s usually a lot more scrambling for things I’ve lost somewhere under the dresser / in the laundry basket / where the wall gnomes live.)
For the sake of me not working on the rest of what I’m supposed to be prepping, though, I thought I’d give you a walk through. Plus, I owe you another “packing essentials” post that I’ve never gotten around to finishing, so I’m hoping this will tide you over.
A little context: I’m packing for a fifteen-day trip to Ireland and the UK. I’ll spend the first week of my trip leading InterVarsity Study Abroad students on a spiritual pilgrimage through south eastern Ireland (awesome, yes). I’ll then do a quick trip over to the UK, where I’ll spend a few days in London meeting with some students, and scouting locations for a trip I’ll lead in January. I’m expecting lows in the mid 40’s, highs in the mid 50’s, and lots of rain. I’ll also be traveling on Ryanair, which means I need to keep everything in a small backpack.
The other dynamic – I’m treating this as a trial run for some of the gear I hope to use on a seven day hike along the Camino de Santiago in December, so I’m overpacking slightly.
For this post – the clothes. How about a closeup?
We’ll go front to back, right to left, for the sake of ease.
Socks: I’m bringing five pairs of wool socks with me. This is one place where I don’t like to skimp. Nothing feels worse to me than a pair of dirty socks, and my feet tend to get cold. Wool stays relatively stink free, and keeps my feet warm. I’m bringing two pairs of merino hiking socks, one pair of Ragg wool socks, a knee high pair of merino socks from Smartwool, and a regular pair of merino blend socks (similar).
Base Layer Bottoms: I’m bringing two base layer bottoms with me – a lightweight silk baselayer from REI, and a synthetic pair of midweight leggings from Lands End. This might be a little bit of overkill for this trip, but I bring the silk because it packs so tiny and adds so much warmth that it’s hard for me to justify leaving it behind, especially when I’m staying in drafty, ill-heated hostels. The midweight leggings double as my PJ’s.
Base Layer Top: I bring this silk base layer with me everywhere – it takes no space and I use it when I least expect to. I got it years ago from L.L. Bean and it’s still going strong.
Packable duffel: I got this packable duffel (by Kiva, same one here) before my last trip and it proved handy for all sorts of odds and ends – from a personal item for my transatlantic flight to a makeshift laundry bag. This time I’ll probably use it to tote the materials I need to bring for the pilgrimage, so that when I’m finished with it, I can just collapse it down into nothing.
Wallet, Book, Journal: She, by H. Rider Haggard. I’m on a fantasy / adventure kick recently, and no one does fantasy adventure better than British Imperialists. Plus, I’ll leave this at a hostel when I’m done with it. The wallet is an upgrade – I’ve found that I really need something with an integrated coin purse and sections for multiple currencies when I’m traveling to Europe. I bought this on sale at Kohl’s (similar) The journal is an essential for me – I keep all of my notes and thoughts in it when I travel.
Baggies: This is where I keep all the vital information – boarding passes, itineraries, reservation confirmations. I used to use ziplock bags, but a friend turned me on to aloksak, and I’ve been converted. Sturdy and legitimately waterproof. Regular ziplocks are totally sufficient for the occasional trip, but they don’t hold up to the wear I give them over two weeks of constant use. I got mine from Amazon.
Cold weather accessories: I’m bringing a light hat, scarf, and pair of gloves on this trip. The gloves and hat are from Target, and the scarf was my staff gift from last Urbana (you can get it here!). Since I’m not expecting serious cold, and I’m not going on any serious expeditions, I’m fine with using cheap synthetics.
Light Cardigan: This was a winner from my last trip, and I’m bringing it back. It helps dress up a shirt and leggings, and adds just a smidgen of warmth for inside. Unfortunately, the one I’ve got isn’t wearing too well, but that’s what I get for using it every day and under a backpack. I got it from Target.
Underthings: I’m bringing seven pairs of panties and two bras. Again, I don’t like skimping on underthings. For now, I buy synthetic underwear, so that I can wash them by hand and let them dry overnight if I need to. Synthetics are cheap and easy to come by (I got these at Target), but they do collect odor. Eventually, I’d love to be using merino underwear.
Pants: I’m bringing either one or two pair of black jeggings (I’m on the fence about it – it’ll depend on the weight and size of my pack). Black jeggings are my go-to travel pant, because they’re comfy enough for a 13-hour travel day, and dressy enough to not look a fool at a museum. Plus, they’re compact, and usually have a high enough synthetic fiber content that they dry relatively quickly. I haven’t found a “perfect” pair yet, and to be honest, I probably won’t really look for one – I like having cheap clothing so that I feel free to get rid of it when it gets burdensome. One of these pairs was thrifted, the other is from Forever 21.
Insoles: Ah, yes. Insoles! I’m bringing three pairs. Why, you ask? A few reasons – no pair of feet like to be stuffed into the same shoes day after day (ask mine after a week in Barcelona – they were toast!), so switching out insoles is a good way to give the same pair of shoes a new life for your feet. I’m bringing my Superfeet (which are awesome and very supportive), the (very cushy) pair that came with my Sorel boots, and a pair of £1 super cushy insoles I found at Primark in London.
Boots: I bought a pair of Aerosoles ankle boots last year for my trip to Denmark, and they did fine – but I found that the slight heel on them was cumbersome. When my feet and ankles were tired (after days of walking on concrete and cobblestone), I would step wrong and fall off of the heel, twisting my ankle. Plus, they were relatively narrow, so they got tight when my feet were swollen from a few days of walking. So, I’ve upgraded to the Sorel Firenze Breve ii, which I got from Sierra Trading Post. They’re flat, waterproof, and slightly higher than ankle boots, so I’m hoping they’ll serve me well.
Jackets: I’m bringing three. Yeah, I know – I think this is probably overkill, but since I have the space, I’m going for it. The first one is the Ladro Hoodie from REI. This is a brand new purchase (as in, I got it yesterday) and is more for my December trip along the Camino, but I’m testing it out on this trip. The second jacket is an older version of the Revelcloud hoodie from REI. I got this jacket before my January trip last year, and I LOVE it. It’s lightweight, packable, layerable, and warm. The final layer is a rain shell. I got it (cheap!) from Sierra Trading Post, and to be honest, I don’t love it. It’s from Red Ledge, so it’s well made and definitely keeps the rain out, but it’s not very breathable (at all) and because the hood doesn’t have a brim, it doesn’t do well keeping the rain off your face. Oh, well – it’s perfectly serviceable, and I’m sure I’ll use it on this trip.
Phew! Thanks for sticking with me! Come back tomorrow for a run-down of my toiletries and gear!
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