PerfectPacking Hack for Travel
July 18, 2008 5:27 AM   Subscribe

How can I pack the perfect bag for any travel?

I would like to hack my traveling by packing an always-ready-to-go-bag that contains a multi-purpose, easy to clean and quick drying wardrobe of just a couple of high-quality, classic-enough looking clothes to be generally acceptable under the majority of travel circumstances, including different climates and regional (city, rural, camping, etc) demands. I've got the toiletries bag figured out, but am looking for suggestions for clothing. For instance, I have two pairs of quick drying pants with zip-off legs (convert into shorts) that seem like they would serve as good pants, but that might be cool in warmer weather, so I need a suggestion for capilene or another base layer that would warm them up a bit. I also need a similar plan for shirts, socks, etc. The idea is that I would always have one clean and one dirty ensemble, and that I could wash the clothes in any sink and hang them to dry while I sleep.

Anybody else tried something similar to this? I'd like to be able to grab the bag and go with absolutely minimal thought into "What do I need to take?" and with the bag taking up the smallest amount of space. Impractical?
posted by idzyn to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I've used the one bag traveling site to help create my travel list. So far it hasn't let me down. He doesn't recommend specific brands, but talks about what to pack and what to do while on the road.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:10 AM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

When Nau starts up again, they will have precisely the sorts of clothes you're looking for. Very packable, quick drying (so easily washable in the sink), designed to be layered and designed to transition easily from office, to activity (biking, hiking, skiing), to dinner.

Quality, durability and utility are (or were, they are restructuring, so I can't be sure) well-worth the prices.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:14 AM on July 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Many companies make short sleeve, button down shorts that do not wrinke and are quick dry. I believe I have one from North Face, one from Columbia and I think I am wearing one from Alpine Products(?? - I can't read inside my collar.).

For pants, Propper makes military BDUs in a cotton/poly ripstop blend. As long as you avoid tan and green, they will look less military, though I love the tan. They do not stain easily, they dry quickly (as long as you get the blend), they are comfortable and they have tons of pockets. They are warm enough in cool weather and cool enough in warm weather that they are my go-to pants for camping and life in general. If your calves are thin enough, you can even roll the pants up for more air circulation. I can't.
WHen rained on, they dry quickly. WHen washed, they dry over night, except in rainforest conditions. However, in rainforest conditions, they will not rot away.
Great clothes.

Most of the people I know who pack a bag like this call it their "bolt bag" and it usually includes a knife, food, water and a handgun and ammo if they deem that appropriate.
Usually when taking a vacation or trip, they plan ahead and do not need to have anything so immediate. I like the idea, though.
posted by Seamus at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

To clarify.
I know 3 people and live in a hole.
God, I sound like a troglodyte.
posted by Seamus at 6:58 AM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am obsessed by this topic. Tilley makes socks and underwear that dry very fast. They claim "two pairs will get you around the world". The British firm Rohan has a huge range of travel clothing — lightweight, quick-drying, multi-climate etc — that is actually pretty well designed. It doesn't look like 'travel clothing'. I can't quickly tell from the site whether they deliver internationally. I think they probably do.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:16 AM on July 18, 2008

Try to pack the sort of clothes which will look un-creased and, at a pinch, be wearable as soon as they have come out of the washing machine - ie before having been dried. This will pay off whenever you get caught in wet weather or when you want to wash clothes overnight and have them ready to wear the next morning.
posted by rongorongo at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2008

I think you need 2 bags, in 2 seasonal varieties for each. One is for outdoorsy/casual/sporty pursuits, and the other is for when you might want to hit a decent restaurant or something in the city. To avoid over-packing, have a set of clothes for each of those bags that will serve you well in the cold time of year, and another set for during the warm time of year. If you only have to repack those backs once in the spring and once in the fall, it won't be that much hassle, and you'll be much more likely to be comfortable in whatever you've packed.

Also, if there are things you can't keep packed, print out a list of what needs to be added to the go-bag to make it complete, and post in inside the closet door where you keep your bag. Maybe it's as simple as "pre-packed bag, wallet, toiletry kit, sneakers." That will really help you get out the door in a hurry. I'd also recommend posting a list of exactly which items belong in your go-bag, so that when you get home you can easily and quickly repack everything after laundering, without worrying that you forgot anything.

I have to add, I think this is a brilliant idea. I try to use it for my camping gear, and also for my gym bag. I'm SO much more likely to get out and do the things I enjoy if the packing is basically done when the inspiration strikes.
posted by vytae at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2008

Try using the Eagle Creek Cube / Half Cube / Quarter Cubes. This lets you have all your underwear and socks and toiletries together in one easy to grab package. I have one for socks, another for underwear, and a third smaller one for medication/misc.

If you travel with a lot of technology they can also be useful to hold things like USB cables, chargers for cameras, extra batteries, flash cards in their little plastic snap-open cases, etc.

They are very lightweight and add almost no bulk to your luggage.
posted by thewalrus at 11:05 AM on July 18, 2008

I can't recommend a specific company but I will give you this advice: don't bring 100% nylon (or probably any synthetic) pants with you. I took a pair that looked great, no wrinkles, folded small and dried fast. They were nice enough to be dressed up if need be. However, they didn't breathe at all and I was getting heat rashes when wearing them in Asia. I ended up getting a pair of linen pants made and got rid of them. I also suggest a small percentage of a stretch material like 2% lycra—so much more comfortable on the road.
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:13 PM on July 18, 2008

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