Packing for an Extended Auto-Trip
Total 30 days on the road
As soon as we say, “We’re going,” many of us immediately think, “What must I take? What am I going to wear?”
Well, the great thing about an auto-trip is that we can take an awful lot including as many outfits as we'd like. I mean, within reason.
We have an entire car as luggage.
But where to start?
From experience, three bags form the control center of the trip's smooth functioning.
The number one, the alpha dog, the first being the waist-pouch (or purse or pocketbook.)
My belt threaded through its back, it securely hangs at my waist.
This little bugger contains tickets for today’s events, cash as in folding money, a comb, as in make ourselves beautiful, credit cards and business cards, iphone, a folded sheet of blank paper and a pen for notes, and our car keys.
Everything we ever wanted at our fingertips but wondered how.
Why call the waist-pouch 'first?'
Because we use it constantly, like paying at rest stops and gas stations.
Like for identification - our driver's license; or to share contact information with a just-met friend - our business cards.
Like stopping at a rest area, not needing to reach or search for anything.
Like open the car door and swing those long, cramped legs out to the pavement and we're free to pee.
Because it's convenient.
Like walking around town with our light backpack over our shoulders.
Stop to pay for something and we don't have to swing the pack from our shoulders to fish out any of the useful stuff waiting in our waist-pouch for cafes, restaurants, admissions, and shops.
Because it contains the most important of the personal property we plan to take.
That so, it is always with us, like a pair of shoes, even while driving.
Attached to us even at a urinal or on the bowl. I do what I have to do to keep that baby dry, because it's never coming off.
Losing it will bring serious problems when we're far from home and vulnerable.
So, so important.
We’re not leaving this baby behind, anywhere.
Several other noteworthy characteristics.
It doesn't need to be constantly replenished.
It requires no space in the car for backup materials.
Its contents each has an assigned space in the bag, and since we use it again and again, we will immediately note if anything not in its place before we close the top.
It's used the same at home so this the one bag that doesn’t need packing.
Second, because after the waist-pouch we spend more time with it than any other bag, is the light backpack.
The light backpack contains our reading book and reading glasses, sunglasses, Vaseline (my lips are always dry,) a piece of fruit, a bottle of water, a toothbrush and toothpaste, (I hate my mouth when it isn’t fresh tasting,) a sweater against air conditioning, and a large cloth shoulder bag that folds or crumbles very small, to be used to carry unlooked-for-shopping. I hate having my arms occupied with carrying things.
Nothing expensive In the bag but everything useful.
And like the waist pouch or shoulder bag, the light back pack needs very little room in the auto for back up materials. We’ll replenish supplies for the light back pack in local markets.
Second in importance because every time we leave the car to walk-about we take this bag with us: around the center of town, to museums, to cafes and restaurants.
The light back pack comes into the hotel room with us.
Like the waist-pouch it is always loaded with the same list of goods.
And like the waist-pouch, we never close it up without knowing from total familiarity that the bag is complete.
We don’t lose anything.
We don’t forget anything.
We don’t have to pack this bag until the day before we leave.
Now for the heavy-duty backpack, the third bag constituting the control center of our trip. Organize these bags well and the packing logistics are almost complete.
Some may consider this bag the first in importance.
Who does will get no argument from me.
Think about the trip and I think we’ll all agree that the most repeated and often stressful activity of the trip is the transition from the car to the hotel room and its reverse.
From the car, it’s very easy to forget something we’ll need for the overnight necessitating an extra trip or two.
From the hotel to the car, it’s easy to leave something behind. And that sucks.
Much of the contents of the heavy-duty backpack stays in the bag, minimizing the time it takes to load and unload it properly.
And like the waist pouch and the light back pack, the contents having reserved places in the heavy-duty backpack means we sense if anything is missing.
That augurs well when repacking, reducing the risk of leaving anything behind.
Surface Laptop with power cord, except for hotel room, stays in backpack in the car
Soft goods: socks, pjs, underwear for one night
Toiletries and pills/dividers
Writing Supplies: pens, paper, 9x12 portfolio as portable desk
Paper: maps; tickets;
T-shirt and clean jeans if needed
Sweater/fall jacket/rain jacket as needed
Electronics: chargers: smart phone; Surface or other laptop; multiple-socket plug, extension cord to move lamps where needed.
Packing Beyond the Three Bags
So we’ve packed our waist pouch or pocketbook, the intimate bag that never leaves us; we’ve packed our daily backpack that contains the few items we want to carry around town while we sightsee; and we’ve packed our heavy-duty backpack that is going to carry what we need for the overnight.
We may need other things in our room.
I know that I like to take my printer.
It doesn’t take much space.
It sits quietly in the trunk until we arrive at our motel.
And then I use a hotel cart to carry it in and out.
So it’s no trouble at all.
Why will I take my printer?
It has weight and bulk.
And I use it only once a day.
I take it primarily to satisfy my need (anal?) to organize.
I will gather addresses and contact information dealing with tomorrow’s acitivites.
I will use the organization to gather tickets.
In rural areas, not sure of Internet connections, it will remind me to make sure I have hard copies of the maps needed for navigation.
On the top of this sheet, in large font, I will type in tomorrow’s day and date.
I will, in large font, type in the town I am in; the time I am leaving the hotel; and the destination.
This is the ‘anti-disorientation’ technique I’ve developed to combat the disorienting effect of waking up in the same-type room night after night, rooms without a defining mark.
To combat driving so many hours.
Time and places blur.
My page of highlights anchors and directs me without any hard thinking at 5.00am.
Each night I will print out the highlights of tomorrow’s activities.
I keep this sheet on the passenger chair to gather odd thoughts I have during the day.
Thoughts that later I will sort out and enter into my Surface.
I need my printer.
It’s a big car and it makes for a big suitcase.
I usually opt for better restaurants and so need clothes that I don’t want to fold up: dress slacks, sports jacket, dress shoes, and a shirt and tie.
These I hang up on the hooks provided by the rear passenger windows and then carry them into the hotel room using a hotel cart.
Finally, for packing, we need to outfit the empty front passenger seat for the benefit of the driver: a water bottle, sunglasses, music, audio books, fruit, an emergency urine bottle, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a comb.
Now let’s take a brief look at the trunk and backseat of the car. Besides the goods mentioned above, we have to pack the backups for the backpacks, specifically the heavy-duty backpack.
My strong preference is to pack the goods in small boxes or reusable supermarket bags dedicated to one item or type of item.
“Car as Suitcase” completes the ‘Packing’ page, although I’m sure there’ll be tweaks as I continue to plan and/or get hints from our great bloggers.
Car as Suitcase
A plentitude of bags makes it easier to find things; and quicker to pack.
When traveling solo, the passenger seat has its own list.
These bags all go in the trunk, or if necessary, the back seat.
We're talking open bags here, to avoid having to open each bag to see what it contains
And small-sized bags that just fit what they're holding. Efficiency again.
1. Liquor and chaser: I will be taking nips of vodka and gin with some small bottles of tonic water for chasers. And some paper cups. Traveling across many states and communities will certainly bring us into contact with a ‘dry’ locale. All we need is ice.
2. Soft garments, includes socks and, underwear
3. Books: I end up reading one of the six that I take.
4. Papers: Maps, writing supplies,
5. Dress Shoes, sneakers, rain shoes
8. Sweaters; rain jackets; fall jackets
9. Jeans; t-shirts