Glacier National Park, Part 3 - Planning and Packing

Our trip to Glacier was fantastic in every way.

So you've mapped our your trip to Glacier and made those accommodations and gotten your park passes, what's next?  Get that gear ready to go.  This can be as simple or as complicated as you like.  I vote for simple, but you do you!

Well laid plans make for happy travels!

Glacier National Park, Part 3 - Planning and Packing

I think we did a pretty good job of packing and also had some misses.  It is so hard to pack for a long trip and really think it through.  First, here is my first rule of packing.  

Lay everything out day by day and assess what you really need and can live without!

Don't overpack.  You will regret it.  My husband literally packed 5 extra shirts and not enough pants and shorts.  I'll just leave this right there.  Plan what you pack.  He's not reading this so I can say this 832 times, and it will fall on deaf ears.

I was pretty basic on this trip to make life simple and just enjoy the trip without too much fuss!

I would pack one extra outfit that you can either travel home in or have as a back up.  This is my standard rule of thumb.  Trust me on this.  I travel for a living with my job, and this travel tip will pay off at some point.  You can thank me later.

Pack to dress in layers.  The weather in Montana is cooler at night and in the morning and will typically warm up during the day.  I wore shorts often but had long sleeves or something else that I could use until the temps rose mid day.  Be versatile with your clothing choices.  And, when you lay everything out make sure you look for ways to mix and match items easily if needed.

While you will need bear spray on the trail, you can't fly with it.  Consider renting some when you arrive in bear country!

So what do you need?

  • Tee shirts and breathable shirts for hiking and activities (preferably short sleeved)
  • Hiking pants/shorts or even skorts
  • Hiking shoes or tennis shoes depending on the trails you plan to access
  • Flip flops for showers
  • Water shoes or other sandals
  • Hiking socks
  • Bathing suit - just in case you are at a place to swim or a hot spring
  • lightweight jacket or pull over for mornings and nights (a flannel shirt can also accomplish this)
  • rain jacket
  • hat
  • bear spray
  • sun screen
  • personal toiletries
  • water bottles
  • back pack or cross body bag
I would not advise buying bear spray in advance.  You cannot fly with it.  But, you can rent it.  So, just put it on your list and rent some unless you are traveling with someone local.  My in-laws live in Montana and own bear spray.  So, they had spray that we used on this trip.  

If you would like, you can also get bear bells that you can attach to you.  I'm not a bear expert and do not claim to provide expert advice here.  But, I was in Japan during a bad typhoon season once, and bear bells were used to deter bears that were coming out of the mountains.  It is certainly something that you could travel with on a plane.  

Most of our time was spent outdoors on this trip.  Plan wisely to accommodate your travel plans!

What don't you need?

I wear make up and jewelry daily in my every day life.  I packed both of these things and could have done without both.  I'm still confused about my choice to pack to really unnecessary items like these.  I would have been fine with some face and eye serum along with my face wash and moisturizer and called it a day.  I never touched my make up on this trip.  Feel free to drop me a line and tell me how crazy I am for packing these things.  Any who....

You don't need nice or dressy clothes.  Think practical, multi use and outdoors.  I did abide by this!  If you have a dress that works for outdoor activities and something else, fine.  But, don't overthink your clothes.  If there has ever been a time for practical in my life, this was it.  And my clothes lived up to that expectation.

Every where we looked seemed more beautiful than the last.

What is some of my favorite gear?

One of the best investments you could make in your travels are the right shoes.  We prefer hiking shoes.  These are more like trail runners and work great.  I didn't take my hiking shoes on this trip because we did lighter hikes, so regular trainers worked fine.  However, if you are going to be doing long strenuous hikes, get the right shoes and break them in before you go!

Hiking Shoes

You can spend a lot of money on hiking shoes.  If you are investing more than you typically spend on a pair of shoes, really do your research and think through how you plan to use them on the trail so that you have something you can wear a long time.


My new favorite bag is a cross body bag.  However, I really enjoy compact items too.  We have several bags we use.  
  • Cotopaxi bags are amazing and hold up great.  This cross body bag is what I used our whole trip, and holds quite a bit.  It is comfy and just practical!
  • The Stowaway Backpack is a great way to have compact gear that expands to full size.  

Miscellaneous Gear

If you pack smart and plan ahead of time, your trip will be enjoyable and fun.  Make your clothing and gear choices versatile.  It will make for an easier trip all the way around.  

Until next time...happy camping!

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