Ultralight Travel

Tomorrow night I am taking the red-eye to Michigan (Flint, to be exact) to spend two weeks visiting family all over the mitten (plus a long weekend in Boston). As I’ve been packing, I’ve been attempting to use the principles of ultralight backpacking in the editing of my pack contents.

My first obstacle is that my camelback bladder popped at some unknown point in time between last weekend and today, and so when I picked up my pack to make it TSA-friendly (whoops, don’t need my 4-inch camp knife!), the bladder was completely empty and the bottom of the bag was soaked. It had to air dry before I could put anything in it.

My second obstacle is that my dog has refused to let me leave, stretching herself out onto as many laid-out pieces of clothing as she possibly can. She also earlier barked at her own water bowl, so today has been an adorable dog kind of day.

After overcoming those obstacles, the first thing I need to do is check the forecast – since I’m staying longer than ten days, I’m going to look both at the forecast and the historic highs and lows in the places I’ll be staying.

First stop – Traverse City, Michigan
-Highest temperature forecast: 90F
-Lowest temperature forecast: 63F
-Historic avg high this time of year: 82F
-Historic avg low this time of year: 58F

Next stop – Grand Rapids, Michigan
-Highest temperature forecast: 95F
-Lowest temperature forecast: 61F
-Historic avg high this time of year: 83F
-Historic avg low this time of year: 61F

Next stop – Ann Arbor, Michigan
-Highest temperature forecast: 93F
-Lowest temperature forecast: 70F
-Historic avg high this time of year: 81F
-Historic avg low this time of year: 55F

Final stop – Boston, Mass.
-Highest temperature forecast: 88F
-Lowest temperature forecast: 68F
-Historic avg high this time of year: 83F
-Historic avg low this time of year: 66F

It looks like the highest temperature I can expect to see is 95F and the lowest I might get is in the mid-50s. There’s also a handful of days that call for thunderstorms, so I’m expecting some precipitation. Quite a range for one pack.

The next thing I need to assess is my activity level on my trip. Unlike backpacking, I will be sleeping inside for the most part and will have access to laundry facilities for most of my trip, but will also be expected to look less like I am backpacking and more like I am a normal human being. Right off the top of my head, I know that there will be some boating (on a speed boat), canoeing, hiking, a few dinners and lunches out, some shopping, and a lot of plane, car, and greyhound travel.

Here is the master list as it stands:
-Trusty, compressable rain jacket
-hiking pants
-hiking skirt
-short-sleeve shirt (polyester)
-long-sleeve shirt (polyester blend)
-3 sundresses
-nice skirt
-2 nice shirts
-4 pairs ExOfficio (super quick wash/dry) underwear
-sports bra
-fancy bra
-running capris
-natural balance nice/comfortable shoes
-trail running shoes
-wool sweater

-makeshift first aid kit (band-aids, ibuprofen, pepto, alka-seltzer)
-small beauty bag (chap stick, mascara, face lotion, folding brush)
-flash light
-sleep socks
-trail mix
-dr. bronners travel size
-field notes
-chico bag (for a day “purse”)

And that’s all she wrote! I’ve packed everything into my camelbak day bag (sans the broken bladder) and still have room in case in the morning I decide that I need to pack something else, like my new ewu sandals. Ooh! Yeah, those are going in the bag.

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