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What I’m Packing for My Mountain Vacation

Every summer, I like to bring my kids back to the place where I spent so many special months when I was growing up: the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho. Not only is it a nice little break from the city, but it’s a chance for them to get back to the earth and to feel like kids again, with a lot less TV and device time and a whole lot more time spent in the great outdoors.

 

As you probably know by now, I receive so much from retreating back into nature. Whether it’s a hike, or a daily run, it’s my way to turn off and tune in. I must admit, I do love a bit of city hustle, but, after a year of launches and list building, I’m looking forward to silencing my phone and going off the grid. For me, going into the mountains means no cell service – literally – which brings more connection time with my husband, my kids, and my inner being that’s been gently pleading for a break.

That said, a trip off the grid also requires some prep work: making sure that I’ll have all of my essentials at arm’s length, and that my kids have everything from swimsuits and to snacks. When you’re up in the mountains, there’s no Postmates, Instacart, or any other on demand app that keeps my “productive” mom game strong. Don’t get me wrong—it’s definitely a low-key trip, but I like to be prepared with some of my creature comforts and a few new finds to pass the time (because that’s part of the fun of travel, right?!!?). I make sure to edit carefully, with a few extra items sprinkled in for good measure.

Here’s what I brought on my favorite summer trip into the mountains. Feel free to use this list to any destination you have happening this summer (my sincere hope for you that you’re heading into nature for a well deserved recharge, too):

Knot Front T-Shirt

There’s nothing like a clean, crisp white tee, but I like that the front knot gives this a little something extra. Plus, it can go from an outdoor hike to lunch to drinks with no problem.

Triad Toner Pads

Look, when we’re outside all day in the hot sun, I’m not going to lie, my skin can get grimy. These cranberry toner pads help me to refresh quickly while still giving my skin a hit of moisture. It’s a win-win.

L Space Tara Bikini

This comfy bikini combines style with sportiness—perfect for a dip in the lake or even to wear as a top on a hike. The tie front makes sure everything stays in place when I’m chasing after the kids!

Ouai Hair Oil

When it gets humid, this hair oil is my savior. Just a couple of drops and my ends look smooth and refreshed.

Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser

Even when I’m in the most rugged locations, I like to take good care of my skin. This ultra-rich cream cleanser always gives me the glow I’m looking for, and the cleansing mitt makes sure my skin is super-clean.

Frame Denim Shorts

I live in jean shorts during the summer. I like the wash on these, and the frayed edges give them a more rugged, edgy vibe.

Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand

On the days when I actually feel like doing my hair, I want it to be as easy as possible. This styling wand is one tool that multitasks, with three removable wands for any style I’m feeling: beachy waves, tighter curls or even a more glamorous, movie-star wave situation.

Lululemon On the Fly Pants

Can we talk about how happy it makes me that athleisure is a thing now? These stretchy sweats are exactly what you want to lounge around in for lazy days spent reading inside—but they’re also cute enough to wear out to brunch. Win-win.

Ouai Wave Spray

To be totally honest, I rarely feel like doing my hair while we’re at the mountains, so this wave spray is my BFF while I’m there. A few spritzes and it texturizes your hair into effortless beachy waves. Done!

Lululemon Down & Around Jacket

It gets pretty chilly up there at night, so I always pack a coat that’s insulated enough to keep me warm, but light enough to move around in if we’re chasing fireflies at night.

RX Bars

When we’re going going going all day, both the kids and I need a snack (or a few). I always stash a couple of RX Bars in my bag. They’re high in protein and made from wholesome ingredients, and the kids’ versions are so good, I eat them too!

DryBar High-Tops Self-Grip Rollers

If you need a hit of volume (and I often do!), these effortless rollers are essential. You just leave them in for 10 or 15 minutes when your hair is still warm from a blow-dry, and voila! Your hair is bouncy and beautiful.

Alexander Wang Kori Block Heel Booties

These super-stretchy shoes are versatile enough to wear just about anywhere, and the cut-out cantilevered heel makes them more interesting than your average booties.

Lululemon Align Pants

We’re so active when we’re in Sun Valley (hiking! bike rides! running! running after the kids!) that a good pair of workout leggings is a non-negotiable. Technically they’re yoga pants, but I wear them for everything.

 

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38 Comments

  • Me

    You are funny.. who brings hair rollers and a styling wand camping? Lol I love you, tho! And I love your blog! Keep it up!

  • Hailey owens

    I just received some of the OUAI leave in conditioner in my Allure beauty box and I LOVE IT. I have naturally curly and dry hair so it soaked the product right up. I’m so glad you guys had a good time. Stay safe on your travels. Love you, Padafamily!

  • Hailey Owens

    I just received the OUAI leave in conditioner in my Allure beauty box and I LOVE IT! I have naturally curly and dry hair so it soaked it right up. Be safe during your travels. I love you, Padafamily.

  • Hailey Owens

    I recently received the OUAI leva in conditioner in my Allure beauty box and I love it! I have naturally curly and dry hair so it soaked it right up. Thank you so much for sharing this! Be safe during your travels. I love you, Padafamily!

  • Elena Alkhimova

    Genevieve, your family is so beautiful! I love уou all !!! I’m always looking forward to your new blogs and vlogs. It’s so nice to watch photos when all your family together spend time. Be happy Padalecki family!

    • Jenny

      Thank you for showing us ways to be still glamorous in nature. Don’t worry about what others said. It’s just a matter of simplification and affordability for everyone, and it’s highly subjective. You have shown us that it’s possible to be rich, low-key, and glamorous without settling for less! I inspire to live like that one day! 🙂

  • Katherine

    Hey Gen💜
    It sounds like we all need to unplug and get away since the world we live in is go go go go all the time. I love how genuine you are and honest with your blogs and videos on YouTube. The only time I go camping is at Tx Renfest in November every year and that’s only for 2 nights. Please don’t change because who you are is amazing. Please give my love to Jared 💜 y’all mean alot to me. Your kids are adorable! they grow up so fast!

  • Elizabeth Dickey

    I am SO glad all five of y’all got to go up there! I’m glad Jared was able to make it. I’m glad the kids enjoyed it (judging from the pictures!) Being a native Houstonian, I’ve never been much for nature or anything outside the city. But as I’ve gotten older (and living close to the Appalachain Mountains in central NC) I find myself wanting more and more to go live out in the country. Live off the land and be less “connected” to the things that make the 21st century a techy-tech universe now. But that would be a conflict of interest with my desire to move back to either Houston, San Antonio (my childhood vacation spot) or Austin (the ONLY Texas city I’ve never even visited!)
    Thanks for sharing this with us! Thanks for giving us the small glimpses in your lives that you do. So many take it for granted. I hope you know that I do not <3 *hugs*

  • Tracey

    Hi Gen!

    I really love your posts. All of them! But tbh I got a little confused about this one. I totally and wholeheartedly agree with and love that you love to get off the grid and get back to nature, but how do you plug in a curling iron when camping?!? 😂.

    Keep up these amazing posts, as they truly are amazing and inspiring!!!

    Love 💕 you and your family so much!

    Tracey

  • Delphine

    Bonjour à vous. Je suis entièrement d’accord avec vous. Cette façon de pouvoir s’évader et oublier le reste du monde le temps d’un instant. C’est incroyablement reposant. Oublier la technologie, vivre de la nature et de ces merveille. Continuez comme ça. Prenez une bouffée d’air frais et avancer la tête baissée…

  • Johanna Weston

    I follow you and Jared and love reading your posts. However I have to agree with Tracey. I was expecting tips on outdoor essentials and got confused when I got to the curling iron unless you’re staying at a cabin with power. Maybe I just assumed you were camping outdoors :-/

    I definitely wouldn’t be worried about having nice waves while in the woods lol. I’ll take it into consideration when I do finally go camping (I’ve never been!)

    What about facial sunblock? Is there a brand you like? I’m still searching for the right one, I find them all to be too thick and greasy. Would love to know what you use.

  • Clari

    I do not know if you’ll read this … But …I love your style! you could give more tips on beauty products, your skin care routine and makeup preferences! Kisses from Brasil!!

  • Madison Anderson

    Gen,
    I know what you mean by sun valley mountains being super beautiful and helps open the inner soul. I was just up there at the beginning of this week with some of my friends and it definitely opened my heart even more for nature. Also your camping supply list is an amazing help for anyone who wants to go out and in joy nature. You’re a true inspection.
    Much love,
    Madison

  • Madison Anderson

    Gen,
    I know what you mean by sun valley mountains being super beautiful and helps open the inner soul. I was just up there at the beginning of this week with some of my friends and it definitely opened my heart even more for nature. You’re a true inspection.
    Much love,
    Madison

  • Madison Anderson

    Gen,
    I know what you mean by being in nature helps you turn off and tun in. I was just up there at the beginning of this month and it helped me open up to nature much more. You are a true inspiration.
    Much love,
    Madison

  • Madison Anderson

    Gen,
    Someday I hope to learn even more from you. You are my roll model. Thank you.
    Much love,
    Madison

  • Michelle

    I so totally adore your whole family And thank you so much for sharing with us. I too am confused. You are camping in the mountains but you take $600 dollar shoes with you? And does the hair curler work on batteries? I do not mean this to be mean I just don’t undrrstand it.

  • Cory reina

    your family is beatiful

  • Cory reina

    your family is beatiful. Me encanta tu forma de ser eres una inspiración para muchas girls. Te admiro mucho.

  • Isabel

    Hi Gen. great blog post! However, i just wanted to point out that many of your readers don’t have the budget for beautiful really expensive clothes like this. and a curling iron in the woods? i understand that this is what YOU use, but maybe you could do a post where you keep stuff catered to those of us who aren’t famous actors? like maybe an “under 50 bucks” kind of thing? just a suggestion. i know a lot of your readers would enjoy that kind of thing, myself included. that being said, i admire your determination to spend some time outdoors and unwind with your fam, and i think you’re a super cool person, so i don’t intend any of this is negative. think of it as friendly feedback! xoxo Isabel

  • Clari

    I do not know if you’re going to read this … Anyway, I love your style. You could give us more beauty tips, tell us your skin care routine, your favorite makeup, the cheaper products that you like! What about? Your family is beautiful! kisses from Brasil!

  • Trinity

    You must be “glamping” or staying in some big fancy cabin that is like right outside of a little city? I really love you, but these products do not sound like you are off-grid roughing it in the rugged mountain wilderness.
    So here is my list for those who can’t spend $1,790.00+ just to feel glamorous in the woods:
    Front knot tee- Any tee will do, with or without knot. Feel free to knot your own tee. If you don’t own a tee, you can buy them super cheaper in multipacks from places like Walmart or Dollar General or Goodwill, or if you want to take it up a notch, Target.

    Triad Toner Pads & Elemis Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser- You can also buy toner and cleaners and moisturizers at Walmart, Target, or any drug store….if you feel you really actually NEED them while camping in the wilderness. I hate MLM companies, but I, personally, do own some Norwex body cloths. They clean off dirt, grit, oil, makeup, and clean and sanitize your face and skin. A 3 pack costs $20 I think. If you really want to get fancy, after cleansing your face, buy a little bottle of argan oil, or jojoba oil and apply a small amount to your face before bed.

    Ouai Hair Oil & Wave Spray- Totes unnecessary. But if you take along some argan ot jojoba oil from above, just put some of that in your hair. One product, Dual-purpose. Boom. The wave spray? Just do without, or throw some salt in some water and make your own if you really need beach waves in the mountains.

    L Space Tara Bikini- Fam, any bikini will do. Or even a one piece. Target has really cute ones and you can often find good deals in the clearance section. But Walmart and Goodwill also sell swimwear.

    Frame Denim Shorts- Any shorts. ANY will do. Just don’t take your $100 ones because if you are hiking and roughing it in the off-grid wilderness, there is a good chance they could get very dirty and stained…but then, I guess if you can afford $100 distressed shorts, you can probably afford to buy new ones if they get ruined. However, if you are like me, hitting up Goodwill for some shorts or jeans to cut off into shorts will work just fine. And you probably only have to pay $4-$6. If you’re lucky, they may even be name brand! If you are picky about name brand and have a few more dollars to spend, try looking at Plato’s Closet.

    Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand- Again, unnecessary. And not realistic if you are really roughing it. You want cute waves? Listen, braid you hair and get your hair wet (maybe even use your homemade salt water), take a dip in the lake or river, whatever. Let your braids dry overnight, next morning, take your braids out. Voila! Waves.

    Lululemon jacket, pants, and leggings- Stretchy pants and leggings can be easily and cheaply found at Walmart, Dollar General, and Target….or really cheap at Goodwill. So can a jacket. It is not imperative that these items be Lululemon.

    RxBars- This item is actually okay. Though $20 for 12 bars is a lot for not many bars. You easily make your own protein balls. Just look on Pinterest for recipes. Most are gluten free and you can also find low-carb/low-glycemic options. Winning.

    Dry Bar High-Tops Self-Grip Rollers- Don’t take this. Honestly, your hair will probably be in a bun, ponytail, or a hat for most of your wilderness adventuring.

    Alexander Wang Kori Block Heel Booties- You don’t need $600 shoes to camping or hiking. If you really want good hiking shoes, you don’t need to spend more than $100. There are tons of options out there. I prefer hiking sandals if the weather is warm enough, they are water proof and from Lands End. I found them at a thrift store for $2. I’m really interested in getting some barefoot hiking shoes that allow me to feel the ground better when walking and that allow my feet to move more naturally. Those will cost more, but still are not $600.

    It’s honestly possibly to still look cute in the woods without spending $1,790. You probably already have everything you would need, if not, head to a thrift store, or Walmart.

    • Will

      I live in the mountains of Colorado and do a lot of hiking, camping, backpacking, etc. First rule is pack as light as you can. If you don’t need it, don’t take it. If you’re going to spend money, spend it on good clothing (layers, people!), shelter, and footwear. My hiking boots cost $160, and it was worth it. My backpack was $150 and it was worth it. Most of my clothes are Under Armor, Columbia, or North Face which also aren’t cheap, but the layers are very well worth it when it’s 40F outside at night and then the sun comes up and it’s cooking you where you stand. But I won’t replace these things for many, many years.

      Most people have to lug stuff around… even if you’re car camping, everything takes up space in your car and you will always default to simplicity and comfort before the trip is over. I wash my face everyday with Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, because it’s cleanser and moisturizer in one. You don’t have to wash it off like a soap. If you’re roughing it, every drop of water is precious… and heavy! A gallon of water is 8lbs and you need one gallon a day when backpacking. So the less you can use for anything except drinking, the better. I leave my hair in a bun under a hat the entire time and never touch it. Baseball cap, or wool hat at night. I wash off in the (VERY COLD) river with biodegradable soap and a cloth. I promise, if you’re really roughing it, you will quickly not care what you look like at all.

      I love Gen’s style most of the time, and she has her “glamping” style that there’s nothing wrong with, but I’m rather attached to keeping it simple outdoors. Especially if you have to carry your own stuff.

    • Isabel

      Trinity-
      I loved how you “re did” Gen’s list there :)) Honestly, i LOVE Gen. i think she’s such a cool person, but this post just didn’t make sense for me. your list was a lot handier, more practical, and waaaay more affordable for those of use who are not blessed in the money department. i personally think it would be cool if Gen did a more practical and affordable list post, but then again it’s her blog and her thoughts, so i won’t complain too much.

      • Teri

        Love your list ‘redo’, Trinity! Much more practical items on a more realistic budget.

  • Fatima

    Hey gen!
    I really luv u and ur cute famliy ❤…..you all are so adorable
    Coz of your blogs i think that i really know you well. I hope you would read it and reply so that i kniw that you read it.
    I just wanted to say that now i know that you luv mountains so much so i wanna advise u some mountain valleys to visit them in ur holidays…i really hope u would maybe try to search them on internet so that maybe u make ur mind to visit them. So the names are swat valley, gilgit valley, naran. They are so beautiful and i luv nature too so i recommended you….hope u look into it…
    Thank you
    Love, Fatima😃

  • fatima

    hey GEN!!
    hope ur enjoying ur trip ….i will make this quick and hope that u read it and maybe reply it. i feel like i know u very well because of ur blogs and very thankful for posting. as i am getting to know u so i also know that u r a mountain girl and wanna suggest u some mountain valleys to visit that are like heaven on earth. that names are, swat valley, gilgit valley, naran , hunza valley, neelam valley, murree. these all r in one country and i know u will luv them.u can even search on net for more info and that i m not lying (heheh)
    thank you and keep posting
    -love. Fatima

  • Jenny

    Thank you for showing us ways to be still glamorous in nature. Don’t worry about what others said. It’s just a matter of simplification and affordability for everyone and it’s highly subjective. You have shown that it’s possible to be rich, low-key, and glamorous without settling for less! I inspire to live like that one day! 🙂

  • Jenny

    Thank you for showing us ways to be still glamorous in nature. Don’t worry about what others said. It’s just a matter of simplification and affordability for everyone, and it’s highly subjective. You have shown us that it’s possible to be rich, low-key, and glamorous without settling for less! I inspire to live like that one day! 🙂

  • Kim

    Good article! I love seeing other people’s vacation and ideas they use to fill their backpacks. I personally can never go a day without my hair oil. Even if I was camping, it’s a must have for my hair. My favorite has argon oil and other conditioners in it. I look like an alpaca without it. Hahaha. Keep up the good work. I like reading your blogs even if I don’t always comment.

  • Jessie D

    The outdoors is my therapy. It’s much needed after being stressed from work and day to day life getting so hectic. I live in Arkansas, it’s perfect for someone like me who loves to be outdoors. Swimming, hiking, and camping are my favorite things to do here. Where ya’ll went in Idaho sure looks like a lot of fun and relaxing too! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to visit!

  • Visit Sun Valley

    So awesome to see y’all coming back to Sun Valley! Hoping it was a rejuvenating stay and that you venture back this way sometime soon.

  • Visit Sun Valley

    So awesome to see y’all coming back to Sun Valley! Hoping it was a rejuvenating stay and that you venture back this way sometime soon.

  • JESSICA LOZANO

    this website is about empowering women, sharing Gen’s life, ideas to live a balanced life and her favorite items while traveling or staying in. It’s not about criticizing or being judgemental. She could have chosen another way to build a business and she decided to do it while helping others. Very cool. It’s better to be grateful than critical to her for doing it. It’s best to build each other up. If you wouldn’t say something to someone in person, best to not say it at all. Have a great trip Gen!!

  • Melinda

    Gen I love your blog. Especially when it deals with being a mom. But, honestly, I expected your packing list to really be for essentials a regular person would take on a camping trip. Was hoping for some tips on camping with kids. I recently took mine on their first camping trip. Maybe I’m a bit bias because I’m a Park Ranger.

  • Kimberly Ford

    Gotta have the Chubby Chap, made in Idaho. I cannot live without it AND I buy it at Valley Apothecary, right there in Ketchum. Best lip balm I have ever used! 😎

  • Stephanie

    First, Gen your blog is beautiful and we can all see your shining spirit and love for family throughout.
    Some constructive criticism, mostly about the “product-placement” and advertising that is blog-heavy here. The list is specifically written for a certain lifestyle and it can get harsh for readers “like me” who are not financially-blessed to only see high end products. For example: Lululemon on the fly pants, is not actually practical for a camping trip unless you want to pay $108.00 dollars [when you click on the title link]. I’m not sure if you have time to read the comments here but most have suggested that you add lower end products for lower-incomes, but it’s not like you have to think about everyone because you are just blogging about your life. For what it’s worth you will have more of an audience if you can just mention some lower-end tips or products, because we all want to feel included, no matter what our $ level is in life, we are all human beings in the end. Just my two cents!

  • Courtney Watson

    Dear Gen! Please at least once give yourself the gift, the total freedom, of not worrying about your hair on a camping trip! Trust me, nothing is more majestic or freeing than to wake up and simply brush your teeth and splash some water on your face before heading out for the day. Plus, I can’t help but think about the impression it leaves on children–to see that dad just gets to wake up and go, but that even when camping, mom must keep up appearances with curlers and hair rollers and product and whatnot. Give the kids the gift of seeing mom not giving a single F about her looks. Thanks for your blog–I really do love it. This one just kind of left me feeling like wait, what? Also, I know I’m not the audience this is inteded for–I can’t afford any of these items. I get that. But at least I can afford to camp without worrying about my hair!

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