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Car Packing: Road Trip in the Time of Covid

I’m that type of person who lives by the motto: “Everything has a place and everything in its place.” I think it’s because I’ve lived half the year out of a suitcase for most of my professional life. Or it could be my borderline OCD. Either way, I derive much joy from painstakingly selecting each item for maximum functionality and then strategically organizing those items into a configuration of maximum accessibility. It's a hobby.

Below are a few snapshots of the things I'm taking on my "Road Trip in the Time of Covid" this week. Some of the items I already owned and some I purchased with the thought of reusing them for future car-camping road trips. (At least that's how I justified the expenses to myself.)

I will be creating a follow up blog detailing what I'll be packing in my Day Bag which I'll take with me when I'm away from my car all day.

Everything all packed up and waiting by my front door. (Three days early.)

Travel clothes for me are never about fashion - it’s always comfort and function. I’m not required to wear a uniform as a Travel Director, but I always bring the same dozen pairs of black capri slacks and dozen company logo polo shirts on each trip. Everything matches everything else, so I just rotate them and never have to worry about what I’m going to wear each morning. Traveling on my own is the same thing.

Bottoms: Half a dozen Colombia yoga capris and half a dozen North Face warm up capris. I packed two pairs of long yoga pants in case the north is chilly. On the flip side, I also have a couple walking skirts for extra warm days.

Tops: Eight “tech” t-shirts from Academy and four soft cotton tank tops.

Cold Weather: Over-sized hoodie, long-sleeve t-shirt, and rain cape I can throw over anything.

Socks: I specifically bought thick, wool ankle socks for hiking to keep my feet cushioned and breathing.

Sun Hat: I am so excited about this sun hat. It’s a fashion crime, but I really don’t care. It has a firm, 4” front brim and a loose fabric flap down the back of the neck. Plus it has a place you can pull your ponytail through so all hair is off your neck. The chin strap is a big bonus, too.

Shoes: I really debated buying hiking boots for this trip since I’m going to be hiking a ton of trails. I tried a bunch on, but my standard trail running shoes felt more comfortable and actually more stable. I’m bringing two pairs so I can switch them out periodically. I’m also bringing flip flops and water shoes for when I want to take a refreshing dip in a mountain stream.

Packing Cubes: I swear by my packing cubes. I own over a dozen in various sizes and never leave on a trip without them.

Suitcase: I decided to bring my carry-on since it is the perfect size to stuff under my sleeping platform hinged section at night. That way there is extra stability for my mattress and it gets the carry-on out of the when I’m sleeping.

Toiletries: Toiletries: Showers are very important to me. I’m a wash-my-hair-every-day kinda girl. (Except for during quarantine, but we don’t talk about that.) My goal is to go no more than two days without showering; but if I’m car camping, that may be problematic. To that end, I found some great body wipes from Honest, which are basically just made with water - no icky baby wipe residue/smell for me.

Make-up: Full disclosure: I don’t plan on wearing make-up on this trip. (Let the small children be warned.) But, I am taking it with me for when I meet up with friends along the way. I know my friends accept me for who I am, but…

This is my stash of random stuff which will hang from my back seat’s “Oh S***” handle. (That’s a technical term.) Sunscreen, bug spray, vitamins, Band-aids (with Neosporin already added), blister pads, face masks, all my electronic cables, white noise machine, and plastic baggies (for trash/snacks).

Look how everything is so organized - doesn't it make you feel so happy? (Just me?)

Driving gloves: Don’t fashion judge me - they protect me from the hot steering wheel and cold air vents. Plus, my hands tend to chafe on long driving days unless I pamper them.

CDs: I broke my 20+ year-old CD collection out of storage so I can rock out nostalgia style during my very own rendition of “car karaoke.”

Road Atlas: National Geographic puts out an awesome road atlas. I know I technically don’t need one since I have all the modern navigation apps, but I just love to flip through the pages and dream. Plus, it easily shows which roads are the scenic routes so I can make sure I detour appropriately.

Seat Cushion: I love my Honda, but my back and booty need a little more support, so I picked up a ridiculously plush seat pad and firm backrest.

Rechargeable Fan: This fan is awesome. It charges during the day and then I can use it to stay cool (or at least keep air circulating) at night.

I couldn’t quite afford a Yeti cooler, but I purchased a similar style which claims to keep things cold for 4 days, so we’ll see how often I have to refill the ice. Inside the cooler I will have my stash of drugs - I mean Diet Dr Pepper, bottles of water, and protein shakes.

To be honest, when I’m traveling, I’m not much of a foodie. (I can feel your disappointment.) Explanation time: In the past, food has always been a function. Food = fuel so I have the energy to keep moving. Sure, I like nice food, but I don’t typically get to relax and enjoy it when I’m in “work mode.” Thus, protein shakes and granola bars tend to be my happy staple of sustenance when road tripping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna gorge myself on Navajo Tacos and Montana Steaks when the time comes, but for long days in the car, I prefer something quick, easy, and light.

This is my sleeping platform all made up. After converting my Honda Fit into a sleeper (see previous blog post), I needed to make sure I’d have an adequate amount of cushioning to be comfortable sleeping in my car for an entire month.

There are three layers of squishiness. The first layer is two quits which I won’t use in the southern parks, but will definitely pull out in the north when the nights get down to the mid-30s. The second layer is a 1” thick yoga mat. The third layer, and my favorite pre-trip purchase, is a top of the line Ultimate XL Sleeping Pad from Cabela’s. It’s a 3” thick, self-inflating half-air half-foam mattress which is cushy to the extreme.

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