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Packing for an Adventure: Green Tortoise Style

The trick to packing for a Green Tortoise (or any adventure, really) is packing your whole bag and then removing a quarter of what you put in.

Just kidding. Kind of.

Our philosophy on luggage is: If you can’t carry it in relative comfort, you’ve probably packed too much.

Something I hear often is, “I definitely brought too much.” Not to worry. We all do it. Lucky for you, we’ve got a thorough list of “must-bring” items, along with some recommended things that won’t weigh you down too much on your travels. Keep reading for our suggested packing list, as well as some of our personal recommendations for great travel gear.

All of the contents of a duffel bag displayed on the floor before packing for an adventure
Bags are packed for a Green Tortoise adventure


We recommend traveling with one “big bag” (a duffle or soft backpack is best), which is similar to your checked bag at an airport. Your “day bag” should be similar to a book bag or hiking pack. Something you wouldn’t mind toting around all day. Then, you might have camping gear like a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and tent with you. Once you’re loading the bus, those are stored separately from your luggage.

The Essentials

Travel Documents

Always remember to check the travel requirements at your destination. Of course, it’s a good idea to have copies of your passport, identification and travel insurance policy with you (either hard copy or saved to a password protected folder in your phone). I like to take screenshots of tickets and important travel documents and then save them in a folder in my photos app.

Clothes You Can Layer

Especially when camping, you can be exposed to a range of temperatures. On our adventures, we travel through varying elevations, as well. The best packing practice is to bring comfortable clothes that can be layered. Don’t forget, it’s okay to wear the same thing twice!

When I pack for an adventure, I always plan for a week and a half to two weeks, even if I’m traveling for far longer (like during the Alaska Expedition). Most of the time, I’m on the road for over 3 months and visit laundromats about every two weeks.

The clothing in my bag usually consists of:
– one down jacket
– one wool long sleeve shirt
– 2 thinner long sleeve shirts
– 1 – 2 t-shirts
– 4 tank tops
– 5 pairs of leggings
– 2 other pants (hiking pants & jeans)
– 3 pairs of shorts
– A medium-weight pull-over hoodie
– A rain jacket
– Underwear / bras for a week and a half
– Swimsuit
– A hat
– and I always throw in one nice outfit for the off-chance that I’m not on the trail and actually out to a fancy dinner!
– I also manage to stuff in a pair of hiking boots and my favorite Chaco sandals.

I’m a big fan of packing cubes to keep my clothes organized. They come in very handy when I’m hunting for something deep inside the duffel bag with the light of a headlamp!

Two people hike with backpacks in the Canadian Rockies at Banff National Park. Trees line the dirt path with snow-covered mountains in the distance.

Packing For A Camping Adventure
Sleeping Bag | Sleeping Pad | Tent

One of my favorite camping gear hacks is that REI usually has an annual sale in March. They almost always put some quality tents on sale. I have had great success with REI branded tents, too.

Even during the summertime, it’s wise to have a 3-season sleeping bag if you’re traveling to the upper latitudes or camping at higher elevations. I’m a big fan of Backcountry if you’re hunting for quality gear at a discount.

Of course, when you’re packing for an adventure, you’ll want to be considerate of space. That’s why these types of inflatable sleeping pads (no larger than a water bottle when they’re packed away) are a favorite among our passengers.

Miscellaneous Items

Towel – I’m particularly fond of this Nomadix microfiber towel. When camping, it’s nice to have a real, big towel after a hot shower. These roll up rather small relative to their size! Plus, they’re quick drying.

Toiletries & Personal First-Aid Kit – there are the givens, like toothbrush & toothpaste and sunscreen. I recommend bringing some facial towelette or baby wipes. They’re great for freshening up in your tent!

Reusable water bottle and / or water bladder

Lunch container: (something like this one on Amazon) We rarely serve pre-packaged snacks. Often times, you’ll have the chance to pack things like baby carrots, trail mix or grapes for lunch. So, it’s a good idea to bring a container or silicone baggie to carry those types of snacks.

Headlamp / Flashlight (check your batteries!)


Phone Charger / Cords

Three people are hiking with backpacks up a trail in Death Valley National Park.

Other Considerations When Packing For An Adventure

We all have different priorities when it comes to our “stuff.” Some people love to use hiking poles, while others simply cannot live without their electric toothbrush for a week. Bring them! If it makes you happy or comfortable, make space for it. If you’ve never used something before, it’s highly unlikely you’ll start using it while you travel.

A few other things that can come in handy during a camping trip on the Green Tortoise Adventure bus:

Eye mask
Ear plugs
A guidebook (like Lonely Planet or Moon)
Bug protection – some people like to use wipes or spray, while others utilize bracelets and nets

When you’re packing for a Green Tortoise adventure, don’t forget the basics, but don’t overdo it! Hopefully this will give you some guidance on the must-haves to help you make room for the souvenirs on the way home.

If you’re ready to pack your bags, check out our calendar and join an upcoming adventure!