Packing: a guide

I have spent the last week organizing, categorizing, redistributing and cursing clothing, accessories and various types of exercise equipment into piles and bags. About ten days ago, I realized that I was on the cusp of living out of a suitcase, on the brink of finally pursuing the vagabond, train hopping, transient lifestyle I’ve always wished for. I also realized another thing: I’m gonna need a bigger suitcase.

After creating three human sized piles (things for school, things for home, things for skiing), I faced the fact that it might take a little practice for me to get the whole vagabond thing down. Then, yet another realization hit me: I’m only packing for a couple of months out West. I have friends on the US Ski Team who are packing for five months in Europe! How do they do that?!

Ida Sargent does all she can to avoid the Whitcomb thumbs down
Ida Sargent does all she can to avoid the Whitcomb thumbs down

I reached out to these friends for advice, which they offered freely, and have condensed it into the following three “ations” of packing. With organization, imagination and a little compensation, you’ll be set to live out of a suitcase for months, maybe even years.

Organization The final days leading into a trip should be an incarnation of Erika Flower’s dream world: one filled with to-do lists and organization. This world has tidy piles of thought-out quantities of specific clothing, as well as designations for their future stuff sacks. It diagrams what you’ll need, when you’ll need it and how much of it is necessary. This world also doesn’t exist. It’s the thought that counts.

Imagination Ida Sargent told me “to bring as much wool long underwear as possible since that is great when laundry is limited.” Preach, sister. Among woolies, there are several ways to avoid doing laundry. Like having an endless supply of socks and underwear. My teammate Sophie Caldwell related the thrill of a mid season Victoria’s Secret 7/$26 panty party to that of Christmas morning.

A great way to feel super. Sign me up.
A great way to feel super. Sign me up.

While we’re not doing laundry, I’ll take it a step further and suggest abandoning personal hygiene altogether. Think about it, once you’ve entered the grease cycle full throttle, cleanliness becomes relative. Instead of carrying four pounds of toiletries, you could carry four more pounds of underwear! And, I mean, it’s Europe. No one will notice. Just throwing it out there.

Compensation Sometimes our destinations don’t have everything we need, so we have to bring things from home to compensate. The most common piece of advice I got from my oracles was to pack emergency treats. I totally forgot they don’t have food in Europe! Anyways, the most important items included American gum, maple syrup, peanut butter and coffee. Ida mentioned that the coffee helps her bag smell fresh all winter, which comes in handy once the whole not showering thing comes into full swing.

In addition to no food, Europe also has no doctors. Jessie Diggins also warned to bring a healthy helping of Emergen-c and cold meds “to feed into those paranoid-skier tendencies.” True that, nothing says willkommen like a hearty german flu.

So there you have it. World Cup packing wisdom in three not-ambiguous-at-all steps. You’re welcome.

Also, Jenna’s reenactment of me a few days ago is charming:


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