One of the most interesting questions I get on a regular basis is "How the heck do you pack for your tour?". I probably get the question because it's something I talk about alot with friends. It causes me a certain amount of grief... and all the associated costs as each checked bag can add up quickly. Nevermind if it gets lost...
In particular, I need to take all my clothes, my guitar, my mandolin, CD's, merch and any microphones, cables etc...
So I usually lay everything out and try and figure out how the heck I'm going to get it all on tour and back home again.
I lay out the incredible mass on the living floor and take a very hard look at must have's and nice to have's. Obviously, the instruments, CDs and gear are all must have's, so they go in first. Well, that's two bags already! I check my guitar and I put my mandolin inside my large rolling duffle with all my other gear and well, there's two bags.
Then there is the realization that I have to carry it all. One guitar, one rolling luggage duffle and two hands means any clothes I want to bring have to go on my back.
And so I've learned to pack....
First things first, I need a backpack that is carry-on sized and fits my laptop. I searched endlessly for a compressible, lightweight bag with the maximum volume allowed. I researched
then I ordered 4 different backpacks off the internet, and returned three.
I went for a backpack for several reason. They are lighter and actually hold much more than rolling carry-on's as there is no wheel, handles or hard sides to steal space.
I ended up with the Gregory Compass 40L pack. While I have worn it for hours and many kilometers in a row, it's certainly not designed to do that. It can get slightly uncomfortable. However, I wanted something that was still 'good looking' and went for the more stylish pack instead of the totally 'backpacking' style, which while more comfortable were ugly! It has also made me incredibly conscious of not weighing it down.
My clothing needs for three weeks are as follows:
1 long water proof/resistant coat
2 merino wool dresses (for gigging)
2 leggings. One merino.
1 yoga pants
1 sports bra
1 long sleeve workout shirt (also doubles as extra layer for sleeping or on cold days)
1 gig boots that are comfortable to walk in all day, with memory foam inserts
1 pyjamas (sleeping shorts and shirt)
1 pair runners
1 pair flip flops
1 bathing suit
1 toiletry bag
1 make up bag
Merino Wool: You've probably noticed the merino wool... well, I've discovered Icebreaker and SmartWool. I'm on their mailings lists to get all the sales... it's pricey stuff! The key thing about Merino wool is the ability to wear it multiple times without the smell. It's also very easy to wash in a sink and dries fast overnight.
Notes on toiletries.
One medium sized ziploc with carry on liquids only means I have moved to solid shampoo bars and solid bar soaps. I buy mine from a local soap maker but you can find shampoo bars at any health food store. From there, my only liquids are conditioner and moisturizer. If I need more I can usually squeeze that into the rolling luggage... wrapped in a Ziploc of course!
To daypack or not to daypack? I've opted for the cross body Pac-Safe purse instead of a smaller daypack. This fits sunglasses, smartphone, RFID wallet with multiple zippers for different currencies and tissues... It also has a water bottle pocket. Done! It is usually my first layer of luggaged followed by the carry on sized backpack and then I pick up the guitar and rolling duffle with the remaining two hands. Off I go!