We drove 900 miles from Miami to get to New Orleans by May 19th for the Starting Bloc Institute for Social Innovation. The institute brings together fellows from all over the world for a series of workshops and activities designed to inspire, instruct, and stretch our limits.
We had the wonderful opportunity to attend the institute thanks to Starting Bloc for a partial scholarship, 54 generous donors who helped us raise $2,240 to cover the rest of our tuition and transportation, and to Danielle Dirks and Caroline Heldman for hosting us in Orlando (on the way) and in New Orleans.
This was not our first road trip – a couple years ago we spent about 4 months on the road traveling to 28 states and basically the circumference of the United States – but this time we wanted to do more camping. We decided that when we finished our program in NOLA we would head out to Colorado and camp along the way. Now the biggest implication for that is PACKING. I’m going to dedicate most of this post to our packing process, and tips we’ve picked up traveling so much.
Step 1: Clothes
Depending on your lifestyle, clothing may be just something you wear as you explore the world, or a huge part of your identity! For us, having a variety of clothing that aligns with our attitude for the day, and the vibe we get from our new location, is a HUGE priority. That means that figuring out what clothes we are packing determines how much space we have for other stuff.
We both organize our stuff in two big categories:
athleisure / comfortable for travel and professional / dressed up
Then Lea divides each of those packs into tops + bottoms, while I (Nastassja) divide mine into pieces that mix and match items + outfits. We end up with big piles of clothes.
Usually we filter through those options 3 or so times to get down to the smallest number of items we can bring that still fit our diverse needs. At this point we roll all of the clothing and put it in our moving wardrobe.
Ikea and the container store have some magical packing items that have helped us construct a perfect dresser that fits in the trunk of our car.
These plastic black rectangles and clear drawers can be taken out in pieces, but also accessed from the car without needing to move anything. This has been game changing for our long term travel.
We’ve found that packing shoes vertically helps them take up less space.
Of course, if you know us, you know we also make and sell bow ties, so we needed to pack all of our supplies to make our next collection of bow ties plus our current inventory.
Step 2: Eating
We also have a traveling kitchen, with utensils, a cooler, a Bunsen burner skillet, a little George Forman grill, a water boiler, and an espresso maker. With this we can make a surprising amount of food on the go!
Step 3: Sleeping
After being primarily nomadic for 3 years we have learned a lot about blow up beds. That’s why we decided to bring our extra high queen size blow up bed with a wonderful mattress topper. To really be comfortable on a blow up bed long term, it needs to be high enough that even if it sinks you wont touch the ground (16-24 inches I’d say), it HAS to have cross fibers in the middle, if not the bed will not maintain its shape. We also brought jersey sheets because they stretch along with the blow up bed if it stretches. Finally we brought our own pillows – without a good pillow you can really add to neck and back pain on a long road trip.
We also brought camping supplies. This is from our target run before taking off, we got core supplies like a lantern, pepper spray, extension cord, bug spray, and batteries.
Step 4: Self Care + Entertainment
We bring along some great bodywork tools that help us stretch and realign our energy lines after long days on the road including our yoga mats, The Miracle Ball (designed to relieve back pain, learn more here), Smovey (a vibroswing that generates Qi-flow, burns calories, and stabilizes your back and spine, learn more here), a Foam Roller (for self-myofascial release which aids in the recovery of muscles and assists in returning them to normal function, learn more here), trigger points map (which maps referred pain, and locates the trigger points which can be used to release knots and relieve pain, learn more here) and a 3 lb Kettle Bell (a simple tool for posture and to combat the negative effects of long term sitting, learn more here).
You can see some of our food in these photos too!
Last but definitely not least, we brought a milk crate of books, dvds and records plus our record player (the brown suitecase looking thing on the top right). Some of the records include Archandroid, Parliament, Le1f, Erykah Badu, and some cool jazz compilations. WE also found some hidden jems like the ray bradbury theater, season 1 of fringe and a bunch of great books.
With all that and a super intense real world tetris game – we are ready to go!
On the Road
We took off in Miami on collins avenue with Lea driving (as always since I don’t actually have my drivers license).
We try to avoid driving in the dark, and this first night was especially rough because there was a huge storm, but we had a place to stay in Orlando so we really wanted to make it there. This is about that part of the trip where every radio station has given out and you finally give into the local music.
Road Trip Realization #1: Florida takes weirdly long to get out of, especially including the panhandle.
Road Trip Realization #2: Insects can be super loud.
Road Trip Realization #3: There are 2 time zones in Florida.
When we finally made it to Alabama, we were reminded that we have been wanting to listen to the Alabama Shakes album Sound & Color. This was the perfect time to discover such an amazing album – would definitely recommend it!
Then we were finally in Louisiana!
The first thought on our mind was food, and we found this awesome BBQ place near where we were staying called The Joint.
~*~Our next post will share our experience of Starting Bloc NOLA ~*~