PACKING YOUR BAGS:
Because we were moving from place-to-place so much and camping at a racetrack, we chose to carry backpacks. I’m not typically a fan of travelling without everything I might possibly need, but I found I really rather enjoyed it.
First- the backpacks themselves. Every high-end outdoor retailer sells expensive backpacks. We checked them out in person, but ultimately purchased the Cabela’s store brand. They have all kinds of pockets and zip all the way around (so you can lay it out on a luggage rack and have access to everything.) There were a few too many zippers, so we zip-tied one side so that it couldn’t accidentally open. For flight, we purchased cheap large laundry bags from Target and our backpacks slipped right in them to keep all the straps safe. I carried a 45-liter bag, and The Kid had 65. This allowed us to pack home an extra 14 souvenir t-shirts, a hoodie, several skull caps and a handful of other goodies. We could easily have traveled with two 35-liter bags if we didn’t have to purchase those essential items.
Other Travel Essentials:
Compression Bags: These fancy little zippies are not expensive and will compress your clothing just by pressing the air out. They’re re-usable and a serious space-saver. We carried a few extra for souvenirs and even used one as a laundry bag. Find them on Amazon.
Travel Sports Towel: For showering at the racetrack, these lightweight, portable towels were essential. We each carried one, but ended up sharing because they’re so absorbent. Another Amazon find.
Cruise Ship Flasks: These are basically giant, adult Capri Sun holders for your to-go beverages. The racetrack and campgrounds don’t allow glass inside, so you can purchase your favorite bottle of spirits and funnel them into these little guys while saving yourself a fortune. They’re lightweight and flat, so you can carry them with you and even use them as a water bottle, if necessary.
Headlamps: These are great for the campground. They’re small and light enough to pack with you throughout the day, so when you arrive back at your tent, you’re prepared.
Garbage Bags & Dry Sacks: I just like to keep a garbage bag in my backpack all the time. Sometimes you end up sitting on them, they can work as rain gear, keep wet or dirty gear separate from clean stuff and sometimes you end up using them for their intended purpose- garbage.
Basic First Aid: We always travel with bandages and alcohol wipes. Each of us place several of these in several different pockets and places, so we can always find them. I also include safety pins for wardrobe malfunctions, plus they double as a pin for blister maintenance. This time, I also found tiny individual packets of Neosporin-type ointment. These came in incredibly handy on this trip, because I came down with a terrible head cold, and it helped heal my sore nose quickly.
I Traveled Light and Loved It!
(Except the huge travel pillow in my front backpack)
#1: Fewer dressing options- it’s refreshing not to have to worry about what you’re wearing, but just dress based on the weather.
#2: More room for souvenirs.
#3 More organized- I packed all the toiletries in my bag and The Kid carried all the cables and chargers. This eliminated a lot of duplication and made it so we each knew where everything was.
By the end of our trip, we were expert packers and we easily doubled the load of things in our bags, with room to spare.
This is what I packed:
2 x each= tank tops, t-shirts, leggings
6x each= socks & underwear
1 x each= long sleeved button-up, silk thermal pant & top, jeans, waterproof travel pants, simple sleeveless cotton dress, rain coat, cheap flip flops for showers (cheap flip flops are lightweight and at only $2 USD, they’re disposable) + 1 enormous travel pillow (which I found incredibly comfortable but also cumbersome, as it took up my entire mini-backpack.)
Laundry services are available everywhere (aside from at the track) and the hotel staff will even help direct you to it. We did laundry twice on our 16-day trip. Each time, the laundry service did our laundry in 1 day and had it delivered back to our hotel while we were off having fun. It cost around $20 USD, but was well worth it. I had also brought mini-detergent to do some in-room washing, but couldn’t get anything to dry thoroughly in time to move to the next location. Won’t bother with that again.
Your shoe choice is the most important decision of the trip. I highly recommend picking out a pair of good quality shoes and run them through their paces a bit in advance. I prefer to shop for shoes on Amazon, with free returns. This way I can read other peoples’ reviews. The Kid always wants to pick them out in person, so he can try a bunch on at once.
I brought just the one pair of walking shoes. The Kid packed a spare set and never used them. I don’t think I’ll ever travel with spare shoes; this is civilization and if something goes terribly wrong, I’ll buy a new pair. Once we arrived in London I was a little self-conscious about my mean-looking boots, but I wore them with my dress and my travel pants as capris, anyway.
I skipped the pedicure and manicure (because I can’t abide gels) and didn’t want my nails getting yucky over time. Instead, I opted for a whole lot of waxing. I hugely encourage waxing your legs before you go. You’ll save a ton of time, be ready for shorts at a moment’s notice and not have to shave in those tiny little showers.