It’s summer and that means lots of trips out to the lake with friends and family. Whether you’re a tag-along or you’ve been visiting a family home for years, packing for the cottage usually ends up with a few things left at home. Don’t worry, the list may be long and bring back memories of packing for summer camp, but great fun always comes after organization. Just me? Read on, anyways, to make sure you never leave for vacation without the basics!
Sunscreen. Although a staple when it comes to the summer months, when you start packing it’s easy to forget to the one thing you need to stay safe in the sun. If you’re like me, and refuse to put those heavy creams on your face, you’ll have two or three sunscreens to be used, depending on the weather, activity, or body part. The last thing you want is to arrive at the water, ready to get your relaxation on only to find out you brought the wrong lotions.
Bug spray. The cabin you’ll be heading to should have lots of this, and at the very least, citronella candles. But, if you’re planning on doing more than sitting around on the deck or dock, bring the spray. Stepping into a forest full of disgusting little creatures, especially a whole swarm that suck your blood, should make anyone stop for a minute and make sure they’re prepared. It won’t protect you against ticks (remember to check every time you are in long grasses or near any trees…even if you’re just sitting under one and not a thicket), but you’ll have a couple less bugs to worry about.
Proper footwear. By this, I mean, pack a few options. It’s easy to slide on our flip flops and think we’re ready for a summer weekend away. Hiking? Take your boots or your runners. Long walks? Runners for sure. Although you may feel like you can walk for hours in your flip flops they’re horrendous on your feet. Your pedicurist and your older self will thank you. Do you wish you could float right onto shore without touching the bottom of the icky lake? Water shoes are cheap and will take away the icky when coming back to land. Bring the flip flops for easy things like the deck or dock. Sneak in some slippers if the nights tend to get chillier – slippers make everything cozier.
Layers. You’re going to be outside; why wouldn’t you have a jacket, sweater, long-sleeved t-shirt, multiple t-shirts, and even more tank tops? My go-to layers are: a light zip-up hoodie, a full hoodie for chillier nights (usually saved for the early to late season trips); as many plaid shirts I can fit (seriously, it’s a problem); three extra tank tops for the days needed; two extra t-shirts for the days needed; long yoga pants; sweatpants; capri yoga pants; work-out, easy to move in, shorts for walks or hikes; cute and comfy shorts for hanging around the cabin or dock; two different types of bras; plus so many socks and underwear I could move in for a year. It’s all about layers and options.
Rain Gear. You’ll most likely not be spending time outside when the rain starts to pour. If worse comes to worse, there will most likely be a spare jacket hanging around the cabin. But, bring your own just in case you need to nip out for firewood, get caught
in a storm, need to do a quick clean-up/saving of the floatys, or need to moor the boat before the white caps come rolling in. Sometimes, you’ll be having a great yoga session only to get surprise rained on within seconds. Besides, jamming yourself into an xs when you’re not even close is frighteningly uncomfortable. If it’s been particularly rainy the last few days, rain boots are a must. It may look dry on paved streets and lawns are so lush that nary a speck of dirt will fall out, but once you hit true nature, mud will occur in every step.
Books. Yes, this list isn’t just for the clothing pieces. I don’t know how anyone would forget, as these are the first items to be thought of when packing for me – but books! Lots and lots of books! A really great cabin will have a shelf, or 5, of long-forgotten books from other guests or ones from the owners ready for you to peruse, but choosing between Pride and Prejudice or *insert sappy terribly written romance novel here* isn’t going to cut it. Bring an interesting novel, a beach read, and an extra in between to keep your options open. Throw some magazines on top and away we go.
Leave the tech at home. This means tablets or kindles, too. As great as it is to have an assortment of magazines and books at hand in just one tiny device, grabbing a real copy that you can hold in your hands will feel so much better when you’re outside enjoying the sun and water. Besides, you won’t have to worry about dropping it in the lake when you’re boating around or float on your giant flamingo.
Don’t forget the charger. That being said, no one can live without their cell phone. Bringing it doesn’t mean you have to be on it the entire time and having a phone while on the road is much safer. Somehow, a charging cord always gets forgotten, no matter how many times I write it down on a list. Besides, if you’re not charged up, how are you to take a ‘gram and let the world know you’re enjoying a weekend away in nature?
Lake friendly toiletries. If you’re like me you’ll most likely bathe in the lake instead of taking a shower when you’re out at a cabin. Some cabins won’t have a full shower, others will be off limits when the cabin is full (due to filling of the tank too fast), so make sure you have products that can be used in the water. Sunscreens are notoriously horrible for washing off in the water and you don’t want your soap, face wash, or shampoo to leave any residue that could be harmful for the aquatic life. Head to Lush and grab some natural products that won’t – or will keep it to a minimum – harm the Earth. That being said, all natural things are not necessarily good for you or for the Earth. Keep in mind when seeing the word ‘natural’ that methane, oil, and turpentine are natural items.
Anything that would be expensive/not available at a small general store. This includes tampons, pads, specific toiletries. If you’re a specific type of beer drinker only, bring it. If you like one brand of grapefruit juice and hate the others, bring it. If you like salt and vinegar chips, bring it. It’s easier to bring the items that you will need than to worry about whether or not a store may or may not carry it. Extras that are always needed and always run low? Hair ties, bobby pins, and water/gatorade. Bring a pack of all – by the time you leave they’ll be gone, I’m sure.