Packing in a Personal Item: Glacier National Park
Yes, you read that correctly – we packed only in a personal item that fit under the seat in front of us for a five day trip to Glacier National Park. What can I say, I refuse to pay any more than the cheapest ticket option and in this case, Jetblue removed the luxury of a carry on bag.
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We have packed in personal items only in the past but it has been for a weekend stay only – this would definitely be the longest we packed in a tiny backpack.
How can you be successful at pulling this off? Here are some core principles to evaluate if you are thinking about the personal item only option:
- One activity only – For us, hiking Glacier National Park was the only activity. We were not doing fine dining, we were not site seeing in a major city, we were just outdoors. This meant we could really limit ourselves to only packing hiking clothing.
- One pair of shoes – A second pair of shoes was not going to work so we just wore our Xero hiking shoes and those would be our forever shoes of the trip.
- Laundry is a must – Finding an Airbnb with a washer and dryer was critical to our success. This meant we only packed two days of hiking clothing. We hiked for two days, did laundry after the second day of hiking, then wore the same clothes for the final two days of the trip. Instead of packing four days of clothing, we only needed to pack two.
- As always use packing cubes!
- The right bag to optimize you storage – it also has to fit under the seat in front of you so bringing a very large backpack or over stuffing is not going to work. We each got new Walker Family Goods Valley Packs and I am obsessed with how great these worked. And they have giant waterbottle pockets that fit our 40oz hydro flasks. What was great is that this bag doubled as our hiking bag – we removed the packing cubes with our clothing, left them at the Airbnb, and ta-da we have our hiking backpack.
Full Packing List
The Bag: Walker Family Goods Valley Pack
Packing cubes size small and medium
Small Packing Cube: Toiletry Bag and Small Clothing Items
- Medications (Ibupofen, Tums)
- Bar of solid soap
- Solid sunscreen
- Lush solid shampoo
- Toothbrush with sanitizer pod / floss
- Hair Brush
- Band-Aids/first-aid and Q-tips
- Hair accessory bag (headband, hair ties, hair clips)
- Lip balm
- Adventure Bands
- Darn Tough socks / underwear / socks
- Liquids Bag
- Tooth paste
- Travel size body lotion
- Travel size conditioner
- Travel size face wash
- Face moisturizer in repurposed container
- Steroids/Aquaphor (for my terribly dry skin)
Medium Packing Cube: Clothing Items
- Two of each active shirts – Smartwool Women’s 250 Base Smartwool Women’s 150 Base
- Two active leggings
- Two tank tops
- Sports bras
- Two t-shirts
- Nikon Z50 Camera with two lens
- Phone power bank charger
- Car phone chargers
- External hard drive
- Small carabiner clips
- Small key chain flash light
- Head lamp
Pack the Bag: Tripod, Small Packing Cube, Medium Packing Cube
Pack the Bag: Camera Bag, Quarry Quarrel
Pack the Bag: Zip up the Main Compartments
Pack the Pack (Front Flap): Covid gear
Pack the Pack (Back Pocket): Computer, Travel Folder
Pack the Bag: Complete
What I wore on the plane
And it worked like a charm. Everything fit nicely, the bag was not too heavy, the bag fit under the seat in front of us, and worked so well for hiking. Laundry was timed perfectly and we had plenty of clothing!