Do you want to know a little secret that shows just how neurotically excited I am for this trip to start? I'm already packed. Yep, my bags are even zipped up and sitting under my bed, ready to go. I have memories of trying to fit everything into my suitcase the night before leaving to study abroad in college, crying, stressed, and having BAD pre-travel jitters. For this trip, I wanted things to be different! While I still sometimes have a nagging feeling that I could be forgetting something important, for the most part I feel good about what I've decided to bring.
A few months ago, Grace had to sit me down for a little chat. We weren't going to be bringing large suitcases on this trip, she gently told me. 3 pairs of shoes each would be the maximum. I guess she has this idea that I'm an overpacker. No idea why she thinks that . . .
Moving on. After Grace broke the news, I started thinking right away about bringing a capsule wardrobe instead of trying to come up with specific outfits for the trip. I had read blogs about using capsule wardrobes for travel (and even just day-to-day life), and the idea really appealed to me. If you aren't familiar, this is the gist of a capsule wardrobe: you pick a relatively small number of clothing items (for a vacation, let's say 12) that are all part of the same color scheme and can be mixed and matched. Each item must go with all of the other items. You can't have a crazy shirt that only matches one of your pairs of pants. Even accessories should be pared down and intentionally chosen to go with everything. A novel concept, but it also made a lot of sense to me! I did something along these lines when Grace and I took our Europe trip last spring. That was easy because it was damp and rainy . . . I just brought a bunch of dark clothing and one big trench raincoat and basically wore the same thing over and over. If you want to read more about capsule wardrobes, the blog Un-Fancy is awesome and has tons of resources on them.
But, the one thing that has always bugged me about capsule wardrobes is that they seem to be geared toward people who wear a lot of shirt-and-pants combos. It's all about having things that match, so it's aimed at a rotation of shirts with pants/shorts/skirts. The problem is, 90% of my wardrobe is dresses. I wear dresses (or sometimes a top and a skirt) almost every. single. day. I'm just not a pants gal! It's not my style. For capsule wardrobes, that makes things tricky because you can't mix and match as much. A dress is your whole outfit, plus shoes and accessories. So with that in mind, I decided to make my own variation of a capsule wardrobe with the focus being dresses. The result is that I end up bringing a couple more pairs of shoes, jackets, and accessories than a typical capsule wardrobe calls for, because that way I have options to style my dresses (the base of my wardrobe) up or down and get more "looks" out of them.
The photo above shows a few of the things in my capsule wardrobe for our Alaska trip. You'll notice that for my color scheme I chose neutrals with pale pink as the accent color. I'm also taking a handful of "athleisure" clothing items for long car rides and hikes/outdoor exploring. The list below is a basic snapshot of the stuff I'm bringing:
- 3 casual dresses
- 1 "nicer" dress
- 2 solid color tops (1 black, 1 light pink)
- 1 pair of black ankle jeans
- 1 pair of jean shorts
- 2 casual light/pullover jackets
- 1 medium-weight cardigan
- 1 heavier all-weather coat
- Plus things like athletic clothing, sweatshirts, pajamas, accessories, a bathing suit, etc.
Then for shoes, I'm bringing my favorite pair of ankle booties, sneakers, flat sandals, and maybe rainboots if I can squeeze them in the car without Grace noticing. Haha!
Does the above amount of clothing look VERY small for a month to me? Yes. But, we'll have access to laundry pretty regularly, and like I said, everything matches! So I have confidence that this will work. And I'm pretty proud of how much I limited myself. Having less stuff will make our trip more manageable--the car won't be as overloaded, getting our bags into our hotel or house rental won't be as much of a pain, etc. etc. And that's the overall goal.
As you would imagine and as the first photo in this blog post shows, we are also bringing a bunch of gear and stuff we'll need other than clothing. I feel like every day I think of a new thing that we need (yesterday it was bug spray). I've gone to Target every day for the past 6 days. And while I'm still convinced I'm not thinking of everything, here's a basic overview of the gear we are bringing and what I recommend based on our past experience with camping road trips:
- A good tent (we are so grateful to Grace's aunt Annie, who sent us the most incredible tent for our trip)
- Folding chairs
- Sleeping pads (we use the REI camp beds that are inflatable)
- A sleeping bag or sheets and a cover
- Lanterns and flashlights (and extra batteries)
- Portable chargers for cell phones
- Camera and laptop with chargers
- Cooking gear: cast iron skillet, spatula, tongs, brushes for grilling, aluminum foil, cutting board, knives, utensils, enamelware plates and mugs, wine opener, bottle opener, can opener, scissors, dish towels and cloth napkins, candles, oven mitts (for taking the cast iron off the fire), long lighters, matches, newspaper for starting fires
- Basic kitchen essentials: oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, other most-used spices, tea and coffee
- Kettle for heating water and pour-over apparatus for making coffee
- Big bag of favorite non-perishable car snacks
- First aid kit
- Basic toolbox
- Lint roller
- Sponge + biodegradable dish soap for washing dishes at campgrounds
- Small shovel/trowel
- Trash bags
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Plastic zip-lock bags (I try not to go crazy with these . . . but there ALWAYS seems to be uses for them on the road)
- Maps/guidebook such as the Milepost (for driving to Alaska specifically)
- Bug spray
- Umbrella and/or other foul weather gear (we are going to be encountering many, many different climates on this trip--from 100 degrees in Utah to possible snow in Alaska and British Columbia)
- Portable fan (my brother recently gave me the most amazing fan that can clip to the top of your tent and be a ceiling fan for inside the tent--thanks, Blair!)
- Gallons of water and water bottles
- Dog stuff: food, water and food bowls, treats, long line (basically like a 20-foot long leash that we use to keep Willie nearby when we're cooking or whatever at a campground and don't want him to wander off, but don't want to have to hold him on a leash), Lambchop (Willie's baby), flea and tick medicine if needed, blanket (Willie likes to make nests), memory foam mat (we use this in a pinch for a dog bed or for Willie to lie on while we're doing other things around the campsite), raincoat and fleece coat
- Travel documents and essentials (passports, Canada parks pass, rabies certificate for Willie)
- Laundry bag to collect dirty clothes until we can do laundry
- Personal toiletries
This list would need to be adjusted based on the type of road trip, but this is most of what we're planning on bringing with us!
If you have any capsule wardrobe tips or tips on what gear to bring on a month-long road trip to Alaska, I'd love to hear it! Happy trails :)