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6 things you think you need to pack (but really don’t!) for your Bend vacation

kayaking the deschutes river

I’m currently on a family vacation in Mexico, and as you might imagine, there was a whirlwind of packing chaos in the days before the trip. Should I squish sunscreen into TSA-approved 3oz bottles, or just buy it when I get there? Do I need something fancy to wear, or will a simple sundress suffice?

While I don’t yet know the answers to those questions, I do know what you should pack for a Bend vacation. In fact, I blogged a whole packing list a couple years ago.

But the flip side of that is equally important. What are the things you shouldn’t bother packing? The stuff that’ll only take up space you should be saving for all those souvenirs you’ll bring back?

Here are six things that made my do-not-pack list.



Let me be clear that I’m not saying you shouldn’t wear sunscreen. You definitely should, even in the dead of winter. Bend’s altitude and high desert climate make you extra susceptible to sunburn, so be sure to grease up whether you’re lounging by the pool or hitting the slopes at Mt. Bachelor.

But there are tons of places to load up on SPF once you arrive in Bend, so there’s no sense risking a ruptured bottle in your duffle bag or a frustratingly crammed TSA-approved baggie in your carry-on luggage.

Consider it an opportunity for you to scope out Bend’s shopping scene while supporting the local economy. Try a great locally-made product like T’s Tonics SPF 30 Sunscreen or the variety of sun care products from Angelina’s (which has a shop in Downtown Bend). Both companies’ goodies are made with all-natural, organic ingredients and will leave your skin feeling oh-so-nice.


Fancy-schmancy clothes

I love throwing on a cute sundress and strappy sandals for a summertime date night, but you know what? It’s not necessary. Walk into any Bend restaurant—even the fanciest ones—and I guarantee at least half the people will be wearing shorts or jeans.

All that to say that if you like to be dressy, rock on with your fancy-pants self. But if you’re wondering whether you need to cram in a pair of khakis or a little-black-dress for that dinner at 900 Wall or Zydeco or Jackalope Grill or Ariana or one of countless other amazing restaurants in Bend, the answer is “not unless you want to!”


Beer growler

This sounds counterintuitive, since I most definitely encourage you to fill a growler while you’re out swilling beer on the Bend Ale Trail.

It’s mostly that I know how cool it is to have a souvenir growler from someplace I’ve visited and want to remember fondly. So many local breweries have super-unique growlers (Deschutes Brewery and Crux Fermentation Project spring to mind). You can also splurge on a deluxe growler from Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks to ensure your brew stays icy cold and fresh. That means you can take some home, along with your sudsy memories.



I’ll admit I’m guilty of cramming my purse and carry-on with snacks when I travel. Like I honestly think there won’t be food where I’m going?!

While little kids and low blood sugar certainly warrant a snack or two tucked away in a bag, don’t make the mistake of bringing so many crackers and cookies and mixed nuts from home that you neglect to get out there and sample Bend’s local cuisine.

Happy hour is an especially good time to get out there and sample little bites on a budget, so go here, and here to learn who has some of the best happy hour options in Bend.



By all means, bring gadgets to keep the kids occupied on the road trip, or toss in a pack of playing cards to enjoy around the campfire.

But make sure you encourage the little darlings to set down the iPad and spend time looking out the window at the amazing natural beauty en route to Bend. Ditto that for the grownups in the group. There’s so much to do in Bend’s great outdoors that you won’t want to spend even a minute holed up in your hotel room playing Cards Against Humanity. I promise.


If you clicked through on my link above about what you should bring on your Bend vacation, you’ll notice I encouraged you to bring your laptop, sketch pad, musical instrument, or camera. There’s something about Bend that fosters great creativity, and as an author who spent part of her honeymoon working on a book with a tight deadline, believe me—I’m the last person in the world to tell you not to bring work on your vacation.

But do it in moderation. If you’ve promised your boss you’ll do a little work on vacation, consider the amount you think you’ll do and cut it in half. Seriously. Don’t shortchange your Bend vacation by spending too much time keeping up on work email. It’ll still be there when you get back, but your time in Bend is precious and short. Use it wisely.

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