I recently returned from a ten day trip to Lake Tahoe (see my photos here). It was originally supposed to be a week-long vacation, but I extended my stay for three additional days. I don’t travel very often and always struggle with what to pack. Since I have been doing so much refinement of my wardrobe and style over the past year, I wondered how that might affect my packing prowess. In today’s post, I look at what I brought to Tahoe with me, whether or not my packing served me well, and what I wore during my stay.
What I Packed
Tahoe during September can be a bit “iffy” weather-wise. While it is often still quite warm during the day, the temperature can definitely plummet in the evenings. It’s also not uncommon to have a cold snap in early fall. All of these factors can make packing challenging. In the days leading up to my trip, I kept checking the forecast and refining my list of what to take with me on my trip.
Although I love wearing skirts and dresses during the summer and early fall at home, I opted not to pack these items for Tahoe. If I elected to take skirts and dresses as well as pants with me, my footwear and outerwear needs would be doubled, as I don’t have shoes and jackets that work well with all of my clothes. For this reason, I decided to only pack pants and to make sure my travel capsule could cover a fairly wide range of temperatures.
Here’s a snapshot of what I packed for my trip. My workout clothes and sleepwear are not shown, but I will discuss those items below.
Yes, there were only two pairs of shoes in my travel capsule, and the walking shoes were only worn when I went to the gym and to take photos at the beach. I primarily wore my black Clarks’ boots, one of the most worn pairs of shoes in my wardrobe. They have served me well for five years and although they will likely need to be replaced soon, I knew they would be a good choice for Tahoe. They are the right height for the pants I elected to pack and I can walk decently in them for a reasonable distance.
My Packing Strategy
I always choose my shoes first when packing; then I move on to bottoms and then toppers. I select my tops last because they are the easiest items for me. I have lots of tops that I love and which coordinate with my various bottoms. When I am packing jeans and pants, virtually all of my tops can be worn with all of my pants (although I do have a section of tops that I only wear with skirts because they are shorter and more fitted). I elected to pack two pairs of jeans, one slim and one boot-cut, as well as a pair of black pants. In hindsight, I could have gotten by with just the jeans, as I only wore the black pants twice. I also should have tried the pants on beforehand, as they are too loose on me with my recent weight loss. If I really wanted a third pants option, I should have gone with my black jeans instead of the black knit pants.
In terms of toppers, I chose two cardigans and two jackets. One of the jackets (the long navy jacket) was mostly worn with my athletic wear and while lounging at my mom’s house, while the other one (black parka) was reserved for cooler weather, which came during the second half of my trip. If I were packing for this trip over again, I may have taken a third cardigan (either my teal or cobalt one), as I found myself wishing for more variety there. I would have perhaps swapped out one or two tops for another cardigan and used the same amount of space.
I packed sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved tops to cover all weather bases. The sleeveless and short-sleeved tops could be worn on their own or paired with the cardigans for some added warmth. I only wore the long-sleeved tops towards the end of the trip when the weather got cooler, and I paired those with the parka as needed. I liked having so many top options and didn’t mind wearing the same jeans and boots over and over again.
With the exception of two tops that were worn twice, I wore all of my tops only once during the trip. The cardigans and pants were all worn multiple times and the boots were part of every single outfit. I didn’t photograph all of my outfits and some of my “selfies” weren’t very clear. Fortunately, many of my ensembles were repeats from previous months, so I had earlier photos of them to include here in many instances. For two of my Tahoe outfits, I put together simple photo collages to give you a glimpse into what I wore because outfit photos weren’t available.
Here’s a look at my Tahoe outfits. I was happy with all of them. It helped that I only packed “tried and true” pieces that I knew worked well for me and would be suitable for my travel activities (mostly hanging out with family and friends and doing some sight-seeing and photography).
There were a couple of days on which I wished I could have worn a skirt or a dress, but the sleeveless tops and jeans were a good compromise and met my needs. In the future, I may opt to pack at least one dress or skirt, although I would definitely have to take a pair of sandals along in that instance. For this trip, I packed well for the forecasted temperatures, but the weather men were a bit off-base. Above 80 F temperatures weren’t predicted but did happen and it would have been nice to have had a skirt or dress to put on for those days.
What Else I Packed
In addition to the clothes I showed above, I also packed the following:
- 1 pair of workout pants
- 1 pair of lounge pants
- 3 workout tops
- 1 pajama bottom
- 2 pajama tops (1 short-sleeved, 1 long-sleeved)
- Undergarments ( I usually pack a few extras)
- Socks (mostly black, but I packed a few pairs of lighter socks for nights)
- Jewelry (probably 10 pairs of earrings, 3 bracelets, and 3 necklaces)
- File of articles to read
- Reading glasses
- Neck wrap and wrist pad (I have a lot of joint problems)
- Flat iron
- Lint brush
- Toiletry items
- Supplements (packed in baggies and small containers, not original bottles)
- Snacks (nuts, Lara Bars)
What I Should Have Packed
I noticed very few omissions this time around. The main thing I wish I packed but didn’t was my iPod. I simply forget it, as I had the charger for it with me. I really missed being able to listen to music at the gym, but I used the Pandora app on my phone while I was getting ready each morning. The sound wasn’t great, but it was nice to have music (I usually listen to podcasts while I’m getting ready every day).
I also wish I would have packed my blow dryer, as my mom’s was horrible. It got much too hot and I had to keep turning it off. My hair is very sensitive and temperamental, so the blow dryer I use makes a difference. I left mine at home because it occupies a lot of space, but next time I will either make room or find a travel-sized hair dryer that suits my needs.
I mentioned above that I wished I had a dress or skirt with me. For future trips to Tahoe during the “cusp season,” I think I will pack at least one dress. Yes, I will need another pair of shoes, too, but I will select ones that don’t take up a lot of space. Maybe I can settle upon a pair of shoes that will work for both dresses and pants. That would be nice…
What I Wish I’d Left at Home
Most of the above items got used, but I wish I would have left a few of them behind. Since the notes I made following my last trip helped me to pack more wisely this trip, I think it will be useful for me to do the same this time around. Here’s what I wish I would have left at home:
- Long-sleeved pajama top – I didn’t use it. When I was cool in the mornings or evenings, I wore the navy fleece jacket over my short-sleeved top. I didn’t need the long-sleeved top at all.
- So many workout tops – I really only needed one. I can see maybe packing an extra one in case I work out more often, but three was overkill.
- Non-black socks – I reasoned that I would wear them for sleeping, but I just kept on the same socks I had worn during the day. I made a note about this the last time and packed fewer “sleep socks” as a result, but I really don’t need any.
- Long necklaces – I packed two long necklaces that I never wore. The Tahoe vibe is very casual and the necklaces felt too dressy with my outfits. I’m sure some necklaces would have been okay, but not the ones I brought. I did buy a short necklace during my trip that I wore once, but just one short necklace would have been enough for me to pack.
- Book – I just don’t read much on my trips and what reading I did do this time was all done on the iPad. No need to pack a book as well. If I want to read books, I can use the Kindle app on my iPad. I did use the journal, but the book was never opened.
- File of articles – Pretty much the same note as above. Although I wanted to “catch up” on reading, it just didn’t happen. The iPad is a “one stop shop” and I can read lots of articles and books on it if desired.
- So many snacks – Just a few would have been enough. I packed fewer snacks than last time, but I still didn’t eat them all. If I need more snacks, it’s very easy to buy them, so no need to pack more than a couple of things.
Conclusion and Coming Attractions
Most of those things are fairly minor. I didn’t vastly over-pack like I have in the past and I’m proud of myself for that. With the exception of the long-sleeved pajama top, I wore every single garment I packed at least once. Yes, I could have easily gotten by with less, but my suitcase closed without any problems and I was within the weight limit for the airline. All in all, I feel I did a good job with my packing for the trip. I don’t think I will ever be a packing minimalist, but I’m happy not to be such a “maximalist” anymore. I’m sure that each time I travel, I will continue to refine and improve my packing strategy, especially if I keep doing these debrief posts (which I plan to do since they seem to be popular with readers).
I hope you found this post interesting and perhaps helpful as well. I know it’s just about my experience, but maybe it made you think of things you might want to pack or leave at home. If you have questions or comments for me or would like to share your experiences, please do. I will be doing one more post related to my Tahoe trip in which I will write about the thoughts that came up for me while I was gone. I did some journaling on the trip which helped me to get clearer on what I want for myself and my life moving forward. I will share those thoughts soon and I will also give an update on my “Love It, Wear It” Challenge (LIWI). In addition, I will post a long overdue accountability update (and it will be a doozy…) soon as well. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!