(photo by Dusty Demerson at dustydemerson.com)
So, if you didn’t already know (I’ve been tweeting about it since May) Billy and I have decided to take a fall vacation to the mountains this year. The beach is wonderful, but I was so busy with grad school this summer, it didn’t make sense for us to take a summer vacation, hence the fall getaway. If you know me, you know I love the mountains. I love the beauty and the magic of a mountain town. I love the nature and while I’m not a big “outdoorsy” type in Oklahoma, take me to the mountains and I transform into this crazy mountain woman who just wants to hike and be at one with nature. It sounds crazy and a little out of character, but it’s true.
We’re traveling to our favorite little mountain town, Crested Butte. I hope to see the beautiful fall foliage, snuggle up with a coffee on crisp mountain mornings, and explore with Bill all day. Crested Butte is an adorable and eclectic mountain village. Although I’ve been traveling there since the age of 4, I’m always challenged when it comes to packing for the trip. The weather there, while amazing, tends to be all over the place. You can start out the morning at 40 degrees, eat lunch when it’s 75 degrees, then end the day with 30 degrees and snow. It’s a lot like Oklahoma’s bipolar weather, but in a more enjoyable, less annoying way.
So I wanted to share some tips on packing for this type of place. The average high temp in September there, is 67 degrees. This type of weather always stumps me in general. If it’s sunny and 67, that’s completely different than if it’s 67, cloudy, with winds out of the north. Is a light jacket too much? Will you be warm enough if you don’t wear one? And shoes? Don’t even get me started with the dilemma which is trying to figure out what shoes are appropriate for this weather.
Not only is the weather challenging to pack for, I always feel as if I want to dress to fit in, wherever I’m going. You’re not going to go to class dressed in a mini skirt and stilettos, just as you wouldn’t hit up a club in Nike shorts and an XL tee. (I mean, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t bummed it up at a bar before, but it’s not typically something you do). Typically, you tend to dress in a way that is appropriate and acceptable for the environment you’re in. Which is something I always try to keep in mind while packing for vacation. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard to be something you’re not. While I’m not a mountain woman, there is a small piece of me inside who can be, so I try to find a balance between my personal style and the style that is the accepted norm in whatever place I’m traveling to.
So while keeping all of this in mind, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions and tips I want to share, along with a few pieces I decided to pack.
1. Ditch the normal, every day shoes you would wear in Oklahoma, for something more durable and transitional. I always over-pack, especially when it comes to shoes. So this year, I’m trying to pack shoes that can go with any outfit I take, while also being practical. While flip flops might be completely practical for Oklahoma right now, they’re probably not the best choice to take to the mountains. Even flats aren’t all that practical. Since we are only going to be in Crested Butte for a few days, I’m only packing 2 pairs of shoes. I assume during the day we will be exploring, hiking, riding, climbing, so I will definitely be packing a pair of shoes conducive to that kind of activity. Hiking boots, comfortable walking shoes, even Chacos, any of these would be appropriate. Crested Butte is a really laid back place. Sometimes, my style isn’t quite so laid back. So for evening time, I’m trying to pack things that are fashionable, without looking too dressed up. The cool thing about Colorado style, is that it looks effortless. When I think about effortless style, the first thing that comes to mind is a cool, versatile pair of booties with a small heel. So booties will be my second pair of shoes.
2. Be mindful of what you’ll be doing once you get there. I usually like to pack a ton of cute outfits, but spend 90% of my time in hiking shoes and yoga pants. One great thing about CB is, if you happen to be starving after playing in the mountains all day, and don’t want to spend the time going back to your condo and changing out of your hiking gear before dinner, that’s totally okay! No one will judge you. There will be locals and tourists alike dressed up really nice, as well as dressed super casual in the clothes they’ve been exploring in all day. Both are equally appropriate and accepted. How awesome is that?!
3. Do your research! Search hashtags on Instagram, look up cool places to dine on Urbanspoon, check out the weather, the more you know about your destination, the easier it will be to pack. There is such a wide variety of people and things to do in CB, it’s awesome. If you’re the person who likes to be super leisurely on vacation, sleep till noon, sip a chai latte, read a book, browse among local shops and eateries, well then crested butte is perfect for that. If you’re an adrenaline junkie who is into kayaking, mountain climbing, and biking, they’ve got that too! If you’re like me, and you like a little bit of both, then you’ve found your perfect vacation destination. (Disclaimer: I swear I’m not working for a travel agency, I just think you should have a full understanding of the place you’re traveling to, it really helps when it comes to deciding your itinerary and packing.)
4. Layer like crazy. Layering is such an awesome thing when it comes to packing. When I was young and my dad carried my bags, I would bring a multitude of different outerwear options. Now, that I’m a grown up and I carry my own bags, I’m trying to cut down on the amount I take. Back in the day I would pack 5 different jackets. Maybe a leather jacket, a pea coat, a north face jacket, a trench coat, and a puffer jacket. I was so ridiculous. This year, I will pack one heavier coat, just in case a cold front happens to move through while we’re there. But the rest of my warmth will come from layering. Sweaters and vests are a great way to do that. It’s likely I won’t even pack a light jacket. For example, I will take one chambray shirt, one sweater than can wore over the chambray shirt, as well as a vest that can be wore over the sweater, over the chambray shirt. That way, I have more outfit options to mix and match with, and there aren’t a ton of bulky jackets and coats taking up room my suitcase.
5. Keep a general theme. (It will hopefully lead to less overpacking) Don’t pack 5 outfits that all require different shoes, scarves, hats, and jewelry. If you tend to wear more black and grey, pack those colors, and pack accessories that you can wear with black and grey. I always pack gold and silver jewelry options. But not this time. I’m laying out all of the outfits I’m taking, and taking jewelry only if it can be worn with all of the outfits.
So in general, the best advice I can give is to research and get to know the place you’re vacationing to. This gives you some insight on weather and what you’ll be doing there, which helps you in choosing what to pack. I can’t wait to hit the road!
What are your favorite packing tips?