Clothes For Couch Surfers: Look Good Even When Your Life Makes Zero Sense

Packing for one of these trips is way easy because I never do it until, like, five minutes before I need to leave.
Publish date:
December 18, 2013
clothes, couch surfing, travel bags

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This time last year, I was flying back to Baltimore from San Francisco after “RACHIE’S WEST COAST ADVENTURE” landed me flat broke, homeless and sadder than ever before. I had basically tried to run away and force some sort of life to happen before I’d developed any actual skills or coping mechanisms, and all I did was wait tables and cry in random hotel rooms for a while before I finally gave in to my parents desperate phone calls begging me to come home and be safe for a bit.

So I went back to Maryland and then I was like, “NO” and I hopped in my car and drove up and down the East Coast for a bit before finally settling in Jackson, MS, with my perfect boyfriend. I eventually found a job here and sort of, I guess, settled. Cringe.

Probably the best part of Jackson is how easy it is to be other places relatively quickly. From here, I can easily road trip away for a weekend to Atlanta, Memphis, some beach on the Gulf Coast, Birmingham, or my personal favorite place to go -- New Orleans. These road trips satisfy, even in the smallest ways, my general sense of restlessness.

I guess this is called couch surfing, except not like the website because I know the people I’m staying with. I’ve watched way too much "Law & Order: SVU" and I basically don’t even look strangers in the eye at this point in my life, so there’s no way I’m sleeping on one of their sofas, or letting them sleep on MINE. A.K.A., MURDER ME IN A WEIRD WAY.

Packing for one of these trips is way easy because I never do it until, like, five minutes before I need to leave. Basically here’s what I always bring with me:

  • One “nice” dress outfit, typically something sort of sexy that I will never wear once the whole weekend
  • Clothes that I can sleep in

In my own home, I cannot fall asleep with clothes on. I really don’t get how people do it. Everything gets so tangled and awful. But when I stay on sofas and stuff, I have to stay dressed because what if there’s a fire or if I suddenly become a sleepwalker? It could happen.

So, it’s important to wear clothes that can double as blankets. These are great for car or bus rides too, unless you’re the driver. Then, maybe don’t sleep.

Y’all, I am having a MOMENT with dusters. I think it’s because my mom just moved to Florida and gave me all her old sweaters and dusters and I’ve been sashaying around town in a look I can only call “Talbots Stevie Nicks” and everyone hates it but I LOVE IT. Dusters for everyone! And weirdly long, slouchy cardigans too.

Ideally, when packing for your weekend away, you’ll want to bring as little as possible so you’ll have less to worry about and lug around. When I was schlepping around after college, I carried everything I owned in a suitcase across the greater SF Bay Area and it was miserable.

OK, but what are you gonna carry your stuff in? What if you don’t get to go to your friend’s house right away and you’re stuck carrying all your stuff into a restaurant or something? You don’t want a rolling suitcase. Remember those kids in school with rollie backpacks? YUCK. (And by yuck, I mean -- my parents wouldn’t buy me one and no, I’m not over it, mom and dad.)

A great weekender bag that’s big enough for some spare underthings and maybe a pair of pants is all you need. You don’t want something too big. If it’s small enough, you can use it as a pillow on a bus or something if you need to! (I have a thing for doubling bags as pillows, I guess. I’m very sleepy always.)

A fancy duffel or a backpack is cool, too. Those are easy to carry around.

So far as what other clothes to bring on a random weekend on someone’s sofa, I suggest comfy dresses, tights, and some sort of shoes you can wear socks under. Then, you can pull of the tights and boots and sleep in your dress with your big sweater as a blanket!

If you’re planning a big adventure, like more than a week of couch surfing and wandering, here are some things you need to have on your person:

  • Some sort of clothing refresher, like Febreeze
  • Oil blotting sheets
  • Some powder deodorant, for sprinkling inside shoes or your bag if things get funky (You’re someone’s guest!)
  • A raincoat or umbrella
  • A swimsuit (You NEVER know.)
  • Some sort of allergy medicine, in case the house where you’re staying has pets you might have a reaction to
  • Your OWN little shampoo and soap (Don’t use someone else’s for an extended period of time. I mean, that’s what I do, but I know it’s unacceptable and if I’ve ever stayed with you then I am sorry and I won’t do it again!)
  • Face wipes (ELF makes really cool lotion wipes so you can get moisturized on the go, too!)

You’ll also want more clothes, I guess, to choose between. Try and pick items that are versatile and layer-able. When I was wandering around for a while after college, I only wore about 50% of the clothes I had brought with me. Lugging clothes around is the WORST and it will make you hate everything you own, so don’t do it.

I highly suggest taking a crazy, weird trip and sleeping on sofas and in random hotel rooms for a while if you’re driving your own self crazy and you’ve got nothing holding you back. Just make sure you look good and everything else will feel all right. Dress for success, right? Sometimes success means a dress you can sleep in and wear to lunch the next day.

Have you ever run away from reality for a while too? What did YOU wear? I’m feeling mega restless again. Anybody got a sofa somewhere I can sleep on?