Hi everyone! After a trip I jot down my observations and what I learned about travel, packing, shopping and eating. Hope there are some tips that will help you plan for your next trip!
Packing. For my three week trip I packed a carry-on wheelie with my usual minimalistic flair. Not much room for error. Still, when I unpacked back home, I set aside what I did not use even once: two t-shirts, two long sleeve shirts, one pair of pants, two undies, one bra, two pairs of socks, bathing suit. Wow, really?
What did I wear? Well…this could be a little embarrassing…but I got used to roughing it out west and tended to wear the same clothes day after day. So much easier to wash things out in the sink, rather than fill the suitcase with dirty clothes. This trip was not about fashion. It was about fleece, jeans and hiking boots. Driving for hours, hiking, staring at mountains, sitting by streams, petting horses’ apricot noses and pumping our own gas. I didn’t wear makeup once.
Lesson learned: This may sound scary but try it. Pack your bag and then take out one of everything, especially if you plan to buy things along the way. And if you are like me and don’t plan to buy anything along the way…well, leave room for surprises because guess what… there’s always going to be a surprise! I always say I won’t buy a thing but I couldn’t resist a super cool Gallatin Gateway T-shirt, and I did stop in the Kalispell Costco (!) to pick up a paper thin, long sleeve smart wool shirt to layer under the fleece. Tropical Gal loves the cold mountain air!
What I packed
5 undies, 3 bras, 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair jeans, 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of exercise/hiking leggings, 1 tank top, 2 t shirts, 3 long sleeve shirts, 1 sweater, 1 fleece, 1 bathing suit, 1 down vest, 1 down jacket, wool hat, gloves, scarf. Hiking hat, hiking shoes, slip on shoes.
Listen to your stomach. Meals were the challenge on this trip, in the sense that my BFF is reed slim and wants to eat every two hours. (Grrr…) I am curvy and don’t. She wanted to eat three full meals a day plus snacks in between. Lord! We had to work this out. By the end of the trip we were nibbling on the motel’s free continental breakfast, sharing one burrito from Taco Bell at lunch in the car and going out to dinner somewhere nice. This was accompanied by her avid snacking all the rest of the time.
Lesson learned: For a road trip, buy a small cooler for the car and stop in a grocery store to get the day’s lunch, snacks, fruit and drinks. This is both for health and for economy. Eating out three meals a day is not only too much food, it gets expensive. We also learned it’s time consuming. Pulling into town, finding and choosing a place to eat, parking, getting seated, waited on, ordering, waiting, eating, asking for the bill, waiting, paying. Besides, after awhile you get sick of the usual fare that’s served in huge portions. You crave an apple and a hunk of cheese. Picnicking is definitely the way to go.
On the day we started out, I said to myself: “Liza, there will be no French fries.” Everything in the American west is served with fries. I enjoyed a gourmet version of them in a chic restaurant in Jackson Hole, and then asked for salad from then on. Hooray me.
Shopping eats up a lot of time too. We learned the hard way when we stopped to shop in a traditional ranch outfitter store in Great Falls and almost missed the Charles Russell museum because it closed at five p.m. It’s so easy to get seduced by the cluttered glitter of stores beckoning. After buying my cool t shirt, and seeing the usual suspects (mugs, refrigerator magnets, cowboy hats…) we simply stopped shopping. Sometimes just stepping into a shop tells you all you need to know and you can walk right out again.
What I bought: A braided horsehair key chain to replace my last one that wore out. A collapsible water bottle. Smart wool t shirt at Costco in Kalispell. Deerskin work gloves from the ranch store in Great Falls. A barn red, western motif, chunky cotton cardigan and a silver buckled, beaded belt that looks good belted over the cardigan for the “Ralph Lauren does the west” look. The last two were both made in China, darn it. But what did I expect?
The Best Buy in America
What else…? Oh, the longer you stay on the road, the less money you spend. You learn the ropes and what things should really cost. The best bargain of the trip? My $10.00 National Parks Service pass which gets me into all of America’s National Parks for free, for the rest of my life. Requirements to purchase the pass: proof of American citizenship and must be at least 62 years old.
Okay folks. Back to sitting through the debates and getting a new President. I’ve already voted early, absentee ballot. Please vote! Wishes for a happy autumn everyone!
P.S. Any travel notes, ideas, successes, bloopers you can share? We all want to to learn how to be effortless, chic travelers.
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