By Annslie Bigbee, Briggs & Riley Packing Expert
In November 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, with nightly news spitting out the dour statistics on the pandemics ravaging toll and politicians warning us not to gather, I was on a zoom call with two girlfriends and we decided we needed to be hopeful; we needed something to look forward to.
We decided right then and there to find a dude ranch for the week of 4th of July 2021. We were hopeful that the pandemic would be contained by then and travel would be back, but if not we would all drive to Big Sky Country where we would be outside riding horses all day anyway. We wanted somewhere with the authentic experience -- swimming holes, not swimming pools. We found exactly what we were looking for Blacktail Ranch in Wolf Neck, Montana. We slapped down a deposit for the biggest cabin they had, which slept 8 and we called up a dozen other friends to see how many would bite.
At first it was 4 of us then 5, then 6, and finally, a month before the trip, 7 of us from 6 different states (Oregon, California, Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont) were in.
The Dude Ranch provided us with a list of items to bring which factored in cool mornings, hot days and a myriad of activities, but of course we each came up with our own game plan. Only one self-imposed group rule -- carryon only. We were being transported to the ranch in one van with limited luggage space after fitting us and supplies, including the weeks’ worth of liquor my friends had acquired in Great Falls.
For those of you who are pessimistic about the ability to pack a carry on for an action-packed vacation. I am here to tell you we did it. Cowboy boots and another pair of riding boots are no small feat while packing and my feet are a size 10.
The average American packs up to 30% more than they wear on a trip. I wore every single item!
- 5 pants
- 3 tank tops
- 3 short sleeve t shirts
- 3 long sleeve t shirts
- 3 western style long sleeve snap shirts
- 1 long sleeve dressy blouse
- 3 dresses
- 3 bandanas
- 9 pairs of underwear
- 3 bras
- 1 hiking hat
- 1 pair of river booties (for rafting)
- 1 pair of board shorts
- 1 rash guard top
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 pair of pjs
My toiletries, first aid kit, extra masks etc all fit in my Briggs & Riley Traveler Tote which slid down over the handle of my spinner and fit easily under the seat on the plane and in the van.
I wore my cowboy boots and a jacket and carried my cowboy hat on the plane.
From the moment I left my house, until 10 days later when I returned home there was not a single bad moment. 7 of us met from 6 states across the country and there was not a delayed flight, bad meal, or argument. And best of all none of us got sick.