Packing and Preparing for Trek America

Last updated on August 24th, 2022 at 09:36 pm

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Are you planning on going travelling? Have you booked it already? Are you wondering what you should pack to go travelling?

I decided to write this post to help out anyone who may be overthinking their packing options. I completely empathise as I spent ages researching what to pack. I was even bamboozled by the baggage options at one stage.

In 2015, I went travelling across 48 states of America with a wonderful company called Trek America. Sadly, Trek America no longer provides trips but there are links to their sister sites on their website.

Sunset in Florida

Oh, the expense!

I took part in The Great 48 trek which took at least 80 days to complete, so I knew packing would be difficult and I would never get it right.

I was right!

I ended up having to buy an extra suitcase at the end of the trek, and I wasn’t the only one to do so; this proved even more traumatic when I had to check-in an additional bag at the airport in Seattle which cost a further £100.

Not cool! And I don’t want this happening to you.

What bag should I buy?

I believe Trek America recommended taking a backpack rather than a suitcase due to storage space on the bus. However, there were several of us on the trip who had suitcases and it really was no big deal. One girl even had a ridiculously large case and no one really cared. The cases all went into a trailer along with the cool boxes for food so, don’t worry, your case will fit somewhere!

Food for thought

It costs a lot to travel 48 states and I’d spent a long time saving. We had a cash kitty that we added money to at the start and this covered our camp meals. However, a lot of us fell into the trap of buying snacks at most gas stations. Journeys between states are LONG and it became a habit in the end.  Spoiler Alert: This WILL annihilate your spending fund!  

Try not to snack as much as I did; I kind of regret that now a little.  Not only because I just consider it a waste of money, but it also adds the pounds on.

Another thing to be aware of is the vultures. It became a bit of a bug-bear of mine when people would rely on you to buy the snacks for the bus! One of the girls on our bus wouldn’t spend a penny on snacks but would eat other people’s and have their leftovers.  Not such a big deal at first but proves annoying when it’s coming out of your pocket.

Captain Cook

Seeing as we are still on the topic of food, be prepared to cook.  No matter how long you are travelling for, you will need to cook at some point. If you are going with a group, it will be for others too so research simple but effective camping meals before you go. No one wants to have spent all that money they’ve saved on burnt sausages…

Within our group, we were put into sub-groups and we rotated chores: cooking, cleaning and packing up/unpacking the trailer. This was very effective and helped everyone to bond.

My tent, Grizzly!

Not everyone thinks like you!

It’s important to remember that you and your fellow travellers may be kindred spirits but you may be travelling for a long time with the same people. It’s worth considering what kind of person you are before you go.

I’ve always been pretty chilled about things but we had a couple of trailer-Nazis who would start to pack your tent away just so they could get it sorted and on the van. We still had twenty minutes before we had to leave! It was not a massive deal until they chucked my belongings out the tent when I was in the bathroom.

Yes, it was a huge over-reaction from these fellow travellers but, in hindsight, I realise we were just very different in personalities. Everyone was also getting a bit ratty with each other as it had been three months of living in each others’ pockets.

Bring on the bears

I am going to be brutally honest with the next bit… You WILL encounter snakes and bears if you are travelling to America.  There were signs everywhere and you could even purchase bear spray!

We rarely saw them though. Just make sure food is locked away.  DO NOT keep food in your tent!!  You will quickly become the food once that bear catches a sniff.

Budget! Budget! Budget!

Going back to money… at the start of our Trek, our guide informed us that having £5k to spend would not be sufficient for The Great 48.  However, one of the other girls and I found out that at least £4k was fine; you just need to spend your money wisely.  We bought loads of souvenirs and took part in loads, if not all, of the additional excursions. Basically, don’t worry too much if someone has rocked up with £10k to spend. That’s their prerogative!

Imagine the most annoying person…

Hmm, now the next part is another brutally honest thing that I will share… The longer you travel with someone, the more annoying people will be.  Don’t get me wrong, I love each and every one of my Trek family, and we’re all still friends on Facebook (and I’m still close with a few people), but they become exactly that: family!  So, you’re going to get fed up of people and you’re going to want your own space.

There is nothing wrong with that!!

Just be honest though, and don’t let the little things bug you.  Many of us did, and I wish I could go back and encourage us all to just let the little things go.  Silly spats over nothing are just not worth it when you think about where you are and what you’re experiencing.

Also, don’t be the buzz-killer!!  Or the diva!!  These are not qualities people want to put up with for almost three months in a tight-knit van.

Right, I’m moving onto the bus… it’s compact!  And the wi-fi is crap.  However, it’s your home for a while so try to learn to love it.  Just make sure you have your headphones!!

My travel companions

I think I’m almost done with my Trek America tips… so, I’m going to talk about the tents and what you need to pack…

You don’t need to pack a tent!  These are provided by Trek.  You do need a sleeping bag though – I got a decent one from Decathlon and it lasted me the whole trip, keeping me warm and cool in the different climates (make sure you get one that is fit for all types of weather).  We were given a mat to lie on too but they’re really thin; you may wish to buy your own if you suffer with a bad back or anything, just make sure it rolls up tight.  Additionally, to save carrying a pillow with you on the plane over there, just buy one from Walmart when you arrive in the US.  You’ll definitely visit a supermarket as soon as you start the trip as you will need to buy food; so I wouldn’t bother with buying a pillow before you go (I bought a pillow case while I was over there too).

Finally, make sure you take an array of layers – you will experience so many different climates, you will need to pack for all different weathers.  One thing for sure, pack trainers AND walking boots!  You only need a couple of each garment too as you will visit many campsites which have launderettes to wash them.

The final night in Seattle, Washington

Right, I think I’m done… if you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment.

Also, follow me on Instagram to see many pics of my travels; I’ll follow back too to keep up with your own travelling experiences!

Keep safe and enjoy the trip of a lifetime!!  Take lots of pics…


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