Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Bonjour & Welcome! Conscious by Chloé is a Sustainable Lifestyle Blog focusing on Zero Waste, Slow Living, and Ethical Fashion.

Our Car-Camping Checklist

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Tonight, Octave and I are headed out for what will probably be our last road trip of the summer together. After a one-week trip across the State of Washington, we're headed to Eastern Oregon until the end of the week (I am FINALLY going to see the Painted Hills!).

For the past year and a half, we've been hitting the roads of most of the 13 Western States with Charlie, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser Octave refurbished when we first moved to Oregon.

After many car-camping adventures, I think I pretty much nailed the whole packing thing and can confidently share our checklist with you.

Some of the products mentioned are really Charlie-specific (tent, shower), but for the most part, this is a simple packing-list for a road trip, big or small (I'm actually planning a car-camping trip to the coast with my little car in 2-weeks).

I hope you'll find this packing-list useful and that it will inspire you to hit the road - no matter the size of your car (remember our trip to Iceland?).

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bedroom

Lately, I've been bringing the pillows and duvet we have at home instead of our camping gear.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Kitchen

We go grocery shopping the day before our trip and store everything we shop in bulk in... Ziploc bags. While this seems wasteful, it is actually the best solution for us so far. While we'd love to bring Mason Jars on trips, the roads and paths we use with the Land Cruiser can be VERY bumpy. Ziploc bags are reusable, lightweight, sealable (we've all seen the videos or bears breaking into cars).

  • Dish soap in a GoToob + Dish sponge + Dish towel
  • Colander

Filter your washing up water with the colander and throw whatever remains in it in a cathole (more on that in the bathroom section).

  • Garbage bag

Even though we aim to produce no waste, we always carry a trash bag with us, at least to pick up the trash left by previous campers.

When we feel lazy or when we're in a rush, we'll stop by a coffee shop in town in the morning and get a caffeinated drink to go.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bathroom

  • Shower (or this portable shower)
  • Flip-Flops (to shower in the dirt)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (DIY: coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil mixed together)
  • Soap
  • Solid Shampoo
  • Dry Shampoo (DIY: arrowroot and cocoa powder)
  • Microfiber towel (I personally love my microfiber robe)
  • Washcloth (for the times when it's way too cold to take a shower but you still want to feel clean)
  • Toilet paper
  • Shovel (check out this article to learn how to dig a cathole)

I also recently started using a GoToob filled with water as my travel bidet!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Safety

Chose the right product according to the region you visit. Are you in bear country? In a humid area? Etc.

Power

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Extras

You can make your campsite as comfy and pretty as you want it to be. It just depends on how much space you have in your vehicle.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

  • Paper Maps (always useful, you do not want to rely on electronics only)
  • Satellite Communicator (only if you travel to remote areas)
  • Washington Discover Pass
    For access to Washington state parks & other state recreation lands in Washington.
  • America the Beautiful
    For access to all National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in the USA.
  • Northwest Forest Pass (day use)
    For access to all Forest Service operated recreation sites in Washington and Oregon where a day use fee is required (unless you already have the America the Beautiful pass).
  • Oregon State Park Permit (day-use)
    If you're camping at a state park, you don't need a day-use parking permit. Just display your current state park camping receipt on your dashboard.

I have to admit that it takes a while to process all this information. So don't forget to check a map as you plan your trip, to know which areas you'll be covering, and don't hesitate to check out the state website or stop by the first ranger station on your itinerary. We've always had the best experience there and met the most knowledgeable people about the regions we visited!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

In conclusion

Getting all this equipment is not cheap. I'm aware of it, believe me! As Octave uses this rig for his filming business, it made sense for him to outfit it with the best gear. And this is pretty much the only way we travel now (except when we go visit our families in Europe), so it's an investment made for many, many trips to come.

After this initial investment, all our holidays cost us is food & gas. (and the occasional treat).

Spending time in nature is the best way to disconnect, recharge your batteries, get away from the daily hustle. And it's so much fun to "play house" in a different way, where your only preoccupation is to be safe and warm.

Camping on public land is free, you guys! Get a good map and hit the road.

So load up your car (or beg a motorized friend to go on an adventure with you) and hit the road, you won't regret it.

Be safe, protect your land, and report back! I want to know all about your camping adventures!


Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

In-Flight Essentials

In-Flight Essentials by Conscious by Chloé

Following up on Tuesday's article about jet lag, and considering I'm flying across the country to meet my parents in Florida next week, I thought I'd share with you my in-flight essentials to make my air travels as comfortable as possible:

  • ESSENTIAL OILS ROLL-ON - I like to massage a little oil on my temples to help me fall asleep and prevent migraines. To be used with moderation so the scent does not inconvenience your fellow passengers.

  • EAR PLUGS - Constant captain announcements, babies crying, neighbor snoring, you name it. My ear plugs are the first thing I put when I get on board. I even sometimes only wait until I've left the plane to take them off. It makes the transition to the outside smoother.

  • FACE MASK - I still do not get the logic of blind opening and closing policy of the airlines I've travelled with. So my face mask is my best ally to trick my body into thinking it's sleeping time.

  • CASHMERE THROW - I'm always cold on airplanes, no matter how hot it is. So socks and a soft throw are a must. I usually repurpose my throw as a big scarf or a picnic blanket according to my destination. And it's so much more comfortable than the ones provided my the airplanes (which are usually wrapped in plastic!).

  • COLLAPSIBLE CUP - This one is my latest travel purchase. I used to only fly with a stainless steel canteen but realized that a cup is pretty handy for the occasional tomato juice (say no to single use plastic cups!).


What's the one thing you always pack for a long flight?

A Glamping Retreat in Southern Oregon

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

The week after my birthday, Octave took me for the most relaxing retreat in Southern Oregon. As a field scout, he was offered to stay at a brand new glamping resort at a stone's throw from Smith Rock State Park.

The timing could not have been more perfect as I had been sick for a couple weeks now and all I needed was sun, nature and rest.

We left on a Thursday morning and headed South for a sunny break, but still found tons of snow at Government Camp when we stopped for coffee, a last taste of winter before spring settles down...

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Packing is really not a fun activity for me. I tend to freak out the night before a trip. But this time, I decided to take the "more is more" approach, meaning that I pretty much reached for all the little things that would make our stay as relaxing as possible.

I packed everything I needed to feel at home such as blankets, candles (not sure they were allowed in the tent!), and many little accessories to relax, relax, relax like an aromatherapy eye mask, essential oil roll-ons... and books!

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

After we settled down in the tent and contemplated on taking a shower in the middle of nature (it was still a little chilly for that), we took a nap during a particularly windy afternoon and went for a stroll as the sun was starting its descent.

We followed nature paths, walked through the meditation labyrinth (!) and stopped at the edge of the cliff where we watched the sun set. It had been a while since we last spent time in nature, with no one in sight (we were the only ones staying in the resort on that day). It reminded us of our last road trip the previous summer, where we slept in deserts and forests, and woke up at sunrise.

Winter has been pretty long here in Oregon and we could not wait until we would be able to sleep outside again. This little escape in the middle of the week was a perfect taste of what's to come, except that it was way more luxurious than what we're used to (I mean, a gas fireplace in the tent?!).

Later, we drove to the city to have a quick dinner, came back in the dark night to gaze at the stars, far from the light pollution of civilization.

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

Tillak Goods for Conscious by Chloé

Tillak Goods for Conscious by Chloé

The next morning, we packed our stuff and took one last stroll around the resort. We went to get a late breakfast/an early lunch (can you call that brunch if it's in the middle of the week?) in town, stocked up on snacks at a health food store and finally headed to Smith Rock State Park for a quick mountain bike ride.

I had been wanting to visit Smith Rock for a long time now and so I was really, really happy to be able to cross it off my list! The sun was hot, but the breeze kept us cool. On the way down, we stopped by the river for a snack and to watch the birds and ducks frolicking.

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

We then drove back to Portland early enough to beat rush hour and made one last stop at our favorite frozen yogurt parlor to make this short escapade last a little longer.

Glamping at Panacea at the Canyon by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp

A Glamping Retreat in Southern Oregon

Eat

Dinner at Terrebonne Depot

Brunch at One Street Down Cafe

Shop

Cornucopia Natural Foods

Stay

Panacea at the Canyon

Visit

Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park by Conscious by Chloé


Photographs by Octave Zangs for Hipcamp.

A winter Iceland Road Trip

Iceland winter road trip - South West Iceland Road - by Conscious by Chloé

Last winter, Octave & I flew back to Europe for the end of the year celebrations. As we would spend Christmas apart, each in our own family, I wanted us to have a couple days to ourselves before flying to Oregon and diving back into work. So I suggested we give a try to this Icelandair offer and stopover in this dreamy island for a couple days at no additional cost (the ticket was actually cheaper than a direct flight to Paris).

So, after having spent a couple days apart, we met at the airport in Paris and flew to Reykjavik to start our 7-days winter Iceland road trip.

Here is a map of our itinerary and the places where we stayed and visited (or wished we could have visited):

In winter time, most of the smaller roads are closed or hard and dangerous to access, so our itinerary was pretty simple, we sticked to the ring road and went around the island counter clockwise.

Day 1: Landing & Prep

We landed at Keflavík International Airport and picked up the 4x4 Toyota Rav4 we had rented. We chose this model because, according to our measurements, Octave would be able to lay down in the trunk once we pulled down the back seats. Did I mention that we planned to car-camp for most of the trip?

Should you travel during winter or summer, you'll want to rent a 4x4, either to drive in the snow, or explore the trails. I have to admit that I was surprised that no shovel was provided with the rental (we haven't had to use one during the trip, but I would have felt safer with one in the trunk).

We drove to Reykjavík to stock up on groceries and buy a propane canister to cook on the road. Later on, we tried to find a good restaurant for a well-deserved meal in town but all were packed, booked or closed. So we ate at a Mexican hole in the wall.

Then we headed off to spend our first night at an Airbnb a couple miles from the city. I remember having some work to finish by the end of the night and watching the fireworks through the living room window while Octave was sleeping and our flatmates were having fun in the snow... It was New Year's Eve!

Note: Check the Airbnb's "community cupboards". There's usually extra propane canisters that previous travelers have left there as they are not allowed on airplanes. Save some money and just grab a used one instead of buying a new one at the shop. Also, hot water smells like rotten eggs, you'll notice that when you take your first shower. Don't worry, it's safe.

Day 2: Seljafoss & Black Sand Beach

We got ready and started our day early. Some of you might know that the days are pretty short in Iceland in the winter (around 4 hours of light per day when we were there), so you want to make the most of it by doing most of the driving at night.

We first stopped at the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, then the Skógafoss Waterfall and finished our day trip by spending some time on the blacksand beach.

We then drove to Vik and parked our car on the Klettsvegur camping grounds.

Note: Camping grounds are closed for business in the winter, but some are still accessible. So whenever possible, we parked there, otherwise, we found a calm spot on top of a hill or outside the city/village to spend the night.

Iceland winter road trip - Seljafoss - by Conscious by Chloé
Seljafoss

Iceland winter road trip - Skógafoss - by Conscious by Chloé
Skógafoss

Iceland winter road trip - Black Sand Beach - by Conscious by Chloé
Blacksand Beach

Iceland winter road trip - Black Sand Beach - by Conscious by Chloé
Blacksand Beach

Day 3: Jökulsárlón & Höfn

After our first night in the car, we prepared breakfast and headed to Jökulsárlón. We hiked around the lake and Octave shot some time lapses.

We finished the day in Höfn.

Note: We would usually cook breakfast at our camp spot, picnic for lunch and have dinner at a restaurant or café, to get warm before our nights in the car and get some wifi to prepare our itinerary for the following day.

Iceland winter road trip - Jökulsárlón - by Conscious by Chloé
Jökulsárlón

Iceland winter road trip - Jökulsárlón - by Conscious by Chloé
Jökulsárlón

Iceland winter road trip - Höfn - by Conscious by Chloé
Höfn

Iceland winter road trip - 4x4 Toyota Rav 4 - by Conscious by Chloé

Day 4: East Coast

We drove most of the day and settled down in Eggilstaddir for the night.

Iceland winter road trip - Iceland East Coast - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Iceland East Coast - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Iceland East Coast - by Conscious by Chloé

Day 5: Hverfjall Crater & Myvatn Thermal Baths

We got up early and made our way to the Hverfjall crater. The road was covered by many inches of snow but we felt adventurous. We drove down the trail, parked our car and started our hike up the crater at sunrise. Driving back up the trail was finally less difficult than we had expected but our adrenaline levels definitely reached a peak.

We stopped for a moment at the Namafjall Geothermal Area and I convinced Octave to dip into the Myvatn Nature Baths. It was a great idea to make this kind of relaxing stop in the middle of our road trip and beat the usual crowds of the Blue lagoon.

Note: Don't forget to pack a swimsuit.

Iceland winter road trip - Hverfjall Volcano Crater - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Hverfjall Volcano Crater - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Hverfjall Volcano Crater - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Hverfjall Volcano Crater - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Namafjall Geothermal Area - by Conscious by Chloé

Day 6: Kirkjufellsfoss & Iceland horses

Once again, we spent most of our day driving but it might have been my favorite day as we got to watch the most beautiful and long-lasting sunrise. The skies were blush and purple, so surreal!

We stopped at the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and then got to pet the cutest horses.

As the sunset approached, we decided to treat ourselves to a night in the cutest cottage.

Note: We chased the Northern Lights during our trip but the forecast was not in our favor.

Iceland winter road trip - North West Iceland - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Kirkjufellsfoss - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Kirkjufellsfoss Horses - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Kirkjufellsfoss Horses - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Kirkjufellsfoss Horses - by Conscious by Chloé

Day 7: Þingvellir (Thingvellir) & Reykjavík

We woke up well rested after a night in our warm cottage and started our last full day in Iceland, on our way back to the capital. We made a stop at Thingvellir and walked with the crowd in the Almannagjá Gorge.

Finally we made our way to Reykjavík for a walk while the sun was still up.

We had lunch at the Kex hostel. Then we visited the infamous Hallgrimskirkja and got coffee at Reykjavik Roasters.

We might have also got yet another coffee at the Laundromat Cafe.

Dinner was uneventful. Feeling unadventurous, we spent our last night in the same Airbnb as our first night, but in another room.

Note: Our friend Eva had recommended us the Grillmarkaðurinn and the Fish Market (Fiskmarkaðurinn). We're keeping them on our list for our next Iceland trip (probably in the spring or summer this time!).

Day 8: Krýsuvík & Taking off

During our last morning, we visited one last geothermal site, the Krýsuvík Geothermal Area. We passed the Blue Lagoon with no regrets and headed to the airport.

Note: Before leaving the Airbnb, we made sure to put our propane canister in the community cupboard for a lucky traveler to find. Also, we forgot an indie SoCal band's CD in our rental car and hope the next road tripper will enjoy it!

Iceland winter road trip - Kleifarvatn River - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Krýsuvík Geothermal Area - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Krýsuvík Geothermal Area - by Conscious by Chloé

Iceland winter road trip - Iceland South West - by Conscious by Chloé

Tips

Driving

You will find some useful information about driving in Iceland on unpaved roads, highland roads and in winter conditions on this leaflet. Or watch this video.

You car rental company will also probably give you this flyer.

In short:

  • Everyone must wear a seatbelt regardless of where seated in the car.
  • Headlights are required around the clock, while driving.
  • If you are not driving a 4x4, you are not allowed to drive on mountain roads (as identified on maps).
  • Driving off-road is forbidden!
  • Respect speed limits.

Use the Vegagerdin website to check the road conditions.

Safety

112 is the single emergency number in Iceland, representing all the response parties to accidents, fire, crime, search, rescue and natural disasters on land, at sea, or in the air.

Download the 112 app to call for help by pressing the red Emergency button. Your location will be sent by text message to the 112 response center. Remember that even though your phone shows no signal there is a possibilite that you can send text message. You can also press the green Check In button regularly to send your location so if something happens. Only the 5 last location’s are stored so it is recommended to check in regularly.

Gas

Fill up your tank whenever you can. You never know how far the next gas station will be. Here is a link to all you need to know about gas stations in Iceland, including a map.

GPS/Map

With our US T-mobile contract, we had data at no extra charge. So we did not care to buy a local SIM card or get a paper map (also considering we were sticking to the main road).

Northern Lights

Check out the forecast, be patient.

Groceries

Stock up on groceries in Reykjavik before you leave for your road trip. We shopped at groceries and gas stations along the way, no complaints!
Here is our shopping list:

  • In the bulk aisle: nuts, pistacchios, dried fruit, fruit.
  • Oatmeal
  • Apple sauce
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salami
  • Fish jerky
  • Toilet paper
  • Gas can

Iceland winter road trip - Car camping in a 4x4 Toyota Rav 4 - by Conscious by Chloé

Packing list

Sleep

Eat

Electronics

Wear

  • Hiking boots
  • Raincoat
  • Ski pants & jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Thermal t-shirt and leggings
  • Swimsuit

Octave shot Four Hours, timelapse series, during our one week trip through Iceland during the month of January, 2016.


Have you ever been to Iceland? What was your favorite part? Where will your next road trip be? Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.