Packing for the Bush

The question I hear most at this stage is, “How do you pack for an extended trip to the Bush?”

For starters, this is a fairly short excursion. We’re talking about six weeks. In the past, we’ve had to pack for six to eight months. There’s a little more pressure to be thorough for longer stints.

We have a system, though, that works for long and short trips. It’s a system we taught our nephews and niece when we took them camping, or even just out for a day, since we were not the thorough packers their mother was. It’s a super-simple revolutionary system that works in many situations, not just packing for a trip. It can even be a life-altering system. Really. And I’m going to share it with you, right here, right now. Are you ready? You’re sitting, right?


Here it is: If we don’t have it, we don’t need it.

Seriously. We do our best to bring things we need and things we’d like to have with us, but we don’t sweat it. There is little that we can’t do without, from household supplies, to food, to specific fiber colors, to clothes–if we don’t have it, we’ll use something else or do without.

When I’m at home, I put vanilla soy milk in my tea most of the time. I like it. But I don’t need it. I prefer lightening my travel burden to having something I enjoy but don’t require. Simplicity trumps luxury.

Our first year caretaking, we maxed out what we could take on the airplane to Bristol Bay, then shipped half a dozen boxes of personal items.

Our second year caretaking–in the arctic where it was significantly colder and more remote–we took only what we could carry on the airplane to Kotzebue.

There’s freedom in traveling light, and in being able to painlessly do without.

So that’s how I pack: I plan and try to cover the most basic needs, and then I shrug and say, “If I don’t have it, I don’t need it.”

Categories: Alaska

1 reply »

  1. Fantastic philosophy–not just in regard to packing, but on a much broader scale as well. How very wise you are.