Traveling {Vegan} Series: Preparation 1: Pack Wisely

<b>Traveling {Vegan} Series:</b> Preparation 1: Pack Wisely

I have said before and I will say it again, it over and over and over.  This country is absolutely breathtaking.  Though the densely populated urban and suburban landscapes are mostly my backdrop, I crave to be within all that is wild, remote, and free.  As one may ascertain from my blog, I am subject to intense wanderlust.  So on a frigid December afternoon, warm coffee in my hand, I mapped out an adventure in New Mexico, a state I have not explored much but whose blue sky left an indelible mark on my memory.

After nailing down a list of scenic stops, many isolated and remote, I thought it’d be helpful to share the specific considerations of my preparation.  Traveling is both a honed skill and an intimate art.  Though most of how you travel is the extension of your personality, and is therefor complex and inert, learned skills and experience play an equally important role.  The next few posts will describe my personal rituals of research and preparation to help fellow travelers–solo female travelers, introvert travelers, vegan travelers, budget travelers, novice hikers traveling solo who may be vegan and introvert, travelers wholly motivated by seeing as much beauty as possible… anyone who wants to know as much as possible before surrendering to the unknown.

1.) Pack wisely.

You will be allowed one carry-on on most airlines. You are not, I repeat, not checking a bag unless you absolutely must, as in it’s filled with needed gear… not an industrial strength hair dryer or other frivolous items. Think of what you’ll need first.  Then prioritize all the things that would help greatly on your journey… and bring as many as possible given your space. These are my usual guidelines for a basic trip.

For Clothing:

  • tumblr_na9b9nwul91sfie3io1_1280Bring as many pairs of socks and underwear as there are sunrises in your trip. Think practical and comfortable.
  • For shirts, halve your number of sunrises and bring that many base layers. (If you get particularly sweaty one day, rinse and wring out layer in the motel sink.  The sunny backseat makes for a great dryer. Or use the laundry facilities, ya prima donna.)
  • Add several shirt layers of varying weights depending on weather conditions and activity plans at destination.
  • I usually do trips with one pair of broken-in jeans that are comfortable for both sitting long periods of time as well as during moderate hiking.  But I always roll-up a space-efficient pair (I like Duluth Trading’s Dry on the Fly pants because they are versatile, comfortable, waterproof, and take up hardly any space.) just in case I need them.
  • If you’re a lady, bring a few sensible but supportive bras.  I pack non-sheer / non-lacy bras (and underwear) that can appear bathing suit-ish in case I find the need for a spontaneous dip. (The black Le Mystére Dream Tisha bra is my favorite.)
  • Shoes are a bit bulky.  Since I am cleared for TSA Precheck, I lace up my hiking boots to wear in flight so they don’t take up so much bag space.  And I always pack a pair of rubber shoes for gross showers or opportunities to go into the water. Again, think practical and comfortable. Do not break a new pair of shoes in on a trip.
  • Bring something that will be your pajamas: real life pajamas, yoga pants and an old t-shirt, a moo-moo dress, whatever… the act of changing into a loose fitting sleepwear after a strenuous day helps relaxation.

Keep in mind: a) You won’t be traveling on the flight in the nude so feel free to wear a few of your layers in flight.  b) Always pack a thin, hooded water repellent layer.  A small amount of packing space for a tremendous benefit if needed. c) Keep the sun level in mind. It’s well worth it to pack a cap or sun repellant hat. d) Check conditions at destination in advance and pack gear (hat, gloves, more socks, etc) accordingly. The goal is not to have to go shopping on your trip. Unless you want to go shopping of course.

If you need to bring larger gear items or a fancy dress and heels, etc, consider sending a trackable package (USPS Priority is most cost effective) to a hotel.  You can make an occasion of it and reserve a nicer hotel for this particular evening.  Reputable hotel chains (3-star and up) are in the practice of receiving important deliveries for business travelers, so you can trust that they have systems in place and are possibly a bit more organized than a budget accommodation. But call them in advance to let them know it’s coming, then call them the day of your check-in.  Pack mailing tape, return label (prepay it if possible) inside the box so you don’t have to run around to send it back.  And heck, while you’re at it, stuff other things in there if you need to.  But remember that many of the flexible details and/or spontaneity allowances of your trip might be affected by honoring this needed reservation, so plan accordingly.

For Toiletries:

  • When it comes to your toiletries, bring what you need to feel confident and comfortable is my general guideline.  I keep a pouch of my regular skin/make-up routine in travel size form. It’s there if and when you need it.
  • Remember outdoorsy essentials: small natural bug repellant, small hand sanitizer, as well as emergency stuff: a spare pair of contact lens and glasses, along with spare contact solution, pain killer, small first aid kit, and “lady” stuff.


Technology Stuff:

  • I travel to take pictures, so camera stuff is super important.  Getting a sense of your camera’s battery life in advance will help.  For data, go on a low stakes photo excursion day! To avoid disappointment at your travel destination: bring a spare battery for your camera/s and make sure it and the battery inside camera are fully charged before leaving.  Then pack that charger and check that you packed it (and the spare battery) multiple times. Canon makes a car adapter for charging camera battery, but it’s a lavish expense if you ask me.  Two full charges should be fine.  Remember to charge everything next time you’re near an outlet.  Make it a motel ritual.
  • Also bring a spare memory card for your camera. One with a ton of storage.  And don’t upload all your pictures to your laptop as your start-up disc may run out of space. I found this out after the Great American Eclipse. Luckily, I also always travel with…
  • A thumbdrive!  Or if you’re fancy, an external hard drive.
  • You’ll need all of those USB chords for all your chargeable things and I recommend a 4-port USB adapter thingy.
  • While you’re prepping, clear up memory of your cellphone. Delete the deleted permanently, remove apps, clear your photos, clean up music files, turn off cellular data and location services for unneeded apps. Dim your screen.
  • A car mount for cell phone if you plan to use maps app as some car’s consoles don’t allow for easy propping.  Many rentals allow you to sync phone for screen display, but you never know.
  • If you are taking your own car, I’ve found that activating unlimited WiFi with OnStar and an active subscription with Sirius XM are wonderful additions.
  • Other: Headphones for flight, laptop for blogging and research

Food Stuff: Snacks are pretty important for a traveling vegan, especially when setting out to locales with few options. Here are some tips for survival.

  • I stash bars and snacks from my VeganCuts deliveries, like a squirrel, to feast upon during trips.  That mint chocolate bar may not be your first choice in your pantry, but you may savor it with relish in the remote badlands of New Mexico.
  • Heading to bulk store or ordering a box in advance via the interweb is the most cost effective way to get bars.  Larabars and Macrobars are my favorite.
  • The bulk section in your local upscale supermarket may have easy bites, like those goji berry cacao bites. Nutritionally dense is key.
  • Make a batch of bars yourself! I have used Oh She Glows‘s recipe and have had great results. Pack it chock full of the stuff you love… stuff that might be hard to find on the road.
  • Balance salty snacks with sweet snacks and add fresh fruit. When you touch down, buy some fruit as soon as possible. That kiosk of greenish bananas and bruised apples may be easy to ignore on your way, but fresh fruit will be a godsend when you’re in the thick of the wilderness. Refill your fruit stash from the motel’s “free breakfast,” which usually includes bananas and apples at minimum.
  • Nuts, nuts, nuts. Luckily almost every gas station has nuts.  Refill your stash often.
  • When you are around a health food store, load up! You likely won’t be near one the next night.
  • Prepare to eat well some nights. I’ll do an entire post on this important part of vegan travel soon. Stay tuned.

Misc. Stuff: At home I store a pouch most of the following stuff ready to go inside my empty suitcase. Try not to use it in your daily home life, so you don’t forget to put back in the pouch.

      • Stamps for postcards, along with addresses
      • Sunglasses
      • Spare USB connector
      • A purse full of silver change (lots of quarters) for possibility of laundry, ice, parking meters, homeless folks, etc)

Once you get your rental car, remember to unpack items that don’t need to come in and out with you at the motel, like heavier layers or hiking boots. Also remember to fill front seat with items you’ll need easy access to: bug repellant, maps, sunscreen, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, etc.

Did I forget something? Let me know!

Leave a Reply