The Art of Packing { + Traveling } Well

#Roadlife is in full swing. Glamorous, glamorous road life.

The life where ziplock bags are priceless, bar soap is consistently inadequate, apples are sometimes wrapped in plastic, you always have an ac adapter in your pocket and you become quite proficient at washing your clothing in the sink. During #roadlife, your noise canceling headphones and/or ear plugs are never far away. And if one of those items goes astray your whole day is likely to go to shit if you don’t chill out and recognize that there is probably a Target down the street where you can get back ups of all of these things. (And maybe you should just go ahead and do that anyway, buy the backups, a case of them, just in case.)

I’m mocking a bit now, but in all seriousness, it was on this most recent trip to the Midwest that I recognized there is a *way* about this life; there is a fine art to traveling well and, for my own purposes, I’ve mastered it. Because I’ve had quite a lot of lady friends ask for tips and packing advice for recent trips, and because I’m packing up again for a cycling trip to the Dolomites next week, I figured my responses will be helpful for any of you ladies out there as well. (Guys, you just have this whole packing thing easier. Sorry. I don’t have much to say to you…but some of the rules + ideas below may apply.) Let me also add that none of the responses below are solicited paid announcements….this is really what I pack, how I do it, and why.

 How do I wrangle luggage?

I use a small black patent Patagonia duffel bag that doubles as a backpack. When I’m pushing a bike box, I put it on my back. When I’m not, I carry it as a standard duffel. I pack all of my belongings in packing blocks and typically carry a small backpack as a personal item. The packing blocks seem extraneous, but their so so vital when you get where you’re going. Everything I pack has it’s own block: cycling clothing, casual clothing, accessories, and dainties too. I have a little stash of ziploc bags in the zipper pockets, a couple of dryer sheets, and a small packet of tissue paper hidden away in the suitcase too; for wet items, to keep any possible smells at bay, and to protect delicate clothes I may pick up along the way, respectively.

 What’s my approach to packing?

My approach to packing completely depends on the type of trip I’m taking. Sometimes, I find myself on the road for weeks on end, running the gamut of riding/cooking/working/wining + dining and so I bring a practical arsenal of clothing options for each. But, most of the time I’m doing a little mix of riding + cooking/hanging, and for these trips I employ something that I call the Rule of 14. Basically, I allow myself only 14 items into my suitcase (not including a couple of cycling kits,) and that’s it. Maybe even less, frankly, depending on how much time you’ll spend on the bike. The rule works when you’re packing for a cycling/active trip or any other trip for that matter because the trick of this tactic isn’t actually how you’re packing, it’s how you’re shopping and piecing together your wardrobe. Finding just the right jacket, sweater, or pair of shoes to go with all the other pieces you’re packing is a *thing*, a mission, and a very worthwhile one. A mission, that frankly will change the way you shop and build a wardrobe for when you’re not traveling because not thinking about what to wear when you’re on the road, or worrying about if everything will fit back in your suitcase is a surefire way to spend more time just enjoying your trip. I challenge you to hang out, mix and match your 14 items in the weeks before your trip. See how creative and resourceful you can be to avoid over packing!


Wardrobe basics?

This spring/summer I’ve carried a few pieces that I absolutely can’t imagine living without. The crisp, unflappable Rapha women’s denim is a crucial piece, and I love to wear it with this raglan pullover or an easy tee and a cashmere blazer from Majestic Filatures. I also carry with my a couple of merino baselayer tanks, a pair of tailored sweatpants from Lululemon, an easy dress, this Rapha Merino Sweatshirt and a denim shirt. I recently bought a pair of KikaNY sandals and I they’re a great, comfortable go-to when I’m not wearing a pair of custom polka dot Vans that really do seem to match everything. Lately, I’ve been tossing in an Etienne Marcel mechanics jumper that I wear with the Vans in a pinch and with heels (or clogs) for special occasions. There’s always a big scarf in my suitcase too, just in case. 


Packing Up


 What about cycling basics?

You might already know that I am one of the North American Rapha Women’s Ambassadors…and for good reason. I love the fit, function and feel of their clothing on the bike. For most trips where I’ll be riding, I bring a couple of pairs of bib shorts, a rain jacketa lightweight wind jacket, a gilet, a Souplesse Jersey for hot days and a Brevet jersey for long days. Then I carry a bar of gentle, all natural soap to wash and let the pieces dry between rides. 

The Basics

Beauty/body essentials?

The more that I travel, the more that I take comfort on the road in products that I really love. My short hair doesn’t need much maintenance but I love the R+Co. Dry Shampoo. There isn’t a single morning or night that I’m not applying Phia Lab Body Serum for face (I also have a custom blended parfum from them that saves the day when I don’t want to offset the smell of cookies or sweat.) Aesop has a favorite hand cream that heals my wind/heat/cookie burned hands. So long as I have these couple of things, (and a mascara, foundation and lipstick from Tarte,) you can take me anywhere.

Analog or digital?

I’m a little of both. I always have a pair of Moleskine notebooks with me, and a pair of micron pens because I make copious lists and still like to keep a written calendar. I also likely have an iPad on me for reading and a MacBook for communicating. Magazines are still devoured in print though.

Airline food?

Never. I always carry my own bento box of snacks, especially for overseas trips, there is always some time spent thinking about what I’ll pack for snacks as I’m flying around. This this and this are all things that I’m thinking about munching on as I make my way to Italy early next week. (P.S. did you know there is a whole section on travel snacks here on the site? ) I also have packets of almond butter and maple syrup tucked away for spreading on hotel bananas, mixing into oatmeal, and for general culinary enjoyment, and early morning wake up calls wouldn’t be complete without a whole Aeropress kit as well. This thing is worth far more than it’s weight in gold.

Best travel tip?

For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about noise canceling headphones, but then I got a pair. I can’t leave home without them now, even on road trips. I can’t recommend them enough, and buy the best pair you can afford. Your brain, body and in-flight sleep patterns will thank you.

Next destination?

The Dolomites next week! In a couple of months there is a lot more travel on the books – to France, into the Rockies, back to Montana. It may sound crazy but I’m really looking forward to unpacking my suitcase for a few weeks and dialing back on all the meticulous packing. In the meantime, let me know how these suggestions help you pack for summer adventures and ENJOY! – xo L