Five packing tips from NCAA student-athletes
We reached out to Shawna-Lei Santos (So., Libero) of St. John’s, and University of Texas student-athletes Sarah Palmer (Sr., Libero) and Molly McCage (So., MB) to get their tips on packing as part of our #WednesdayWisdom campaign.
Shawna-Lei has traveled internationally with us as a member of A2 High Performance program. If you’re planning on going out of the country, pay heed to her advice.
Sarah and Molly are only part of a volleyball dynasty that has gone to the NCAA Tournament the past 10-consecutive years and more importantly are defending their 2012 National Championship. Brilliant athletes on the court, they’ve got packing down to an art so much so it’s mostly an afterthought.
1. WHAT MAKES IT IN THE SUITCASE FOR THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
“Basics, basics, basics. Only travel with the things you really need – gear, practice clothes, game jersey, pajamas and toiletries. It really helps to travel light for the longer trips.” - Sarah
“It’s not hard to pack for long trips since our team is big on matching. We have a ‘fashion captain’ who texts us ahead of time to determine what to wear and when we need to match. From there I make a checklist for myself to plan everything out and then I go over the list again to make sure I have everything.” Who is the fashion captain this year? “Megan Futch this year and we select a new one each season.” – Molly
If you’re a fan attending one of the NCAA Tournament matches (buy those tickets soon!) this advice still rings true. Pack light and save that extra room to bring home mementos after your team wins the big one!
2. PACKING FOR A TRIP THAT COULD SPAN MULTIPLE CITIES
“It’s all about mixing and matching. When I go shopping for casual clothes, I actually think of all the traveling I do. I lean toward more basic, versatile clothing. I have a lot of gray, white and black layering pieces for the places with colder climates.” - Molly
“I am someone who checks the weather app on my phone every morning. For the times that we travel to other cities, I usually look up the weather in advance to know if I need to bring warm clothes or not.” – Sarah
Play it safe. If there is a possibility of going to multiple cities without a stop at home, make sure you have warm-weather clothing and cold-weather gear like a jacket. If you think you’ve packed too much, make sure the jacket gets to stay in the bag. You can always do laundry at the hotel for your everyday attire.
3. CARRY-ON 101
“We are usually told to pack our game-day gear in our carry-on because you never know when you could lose your bag.” – Sarah
“I always pack my game-day stuff in my carry-on on the way there. I’ve heard too many stories about people losing their luggage and not being able to play.” - Molly
“I always carry my uniform in my carry-on because there was a trip when my checked bag got lost when traveling to a tournament. I was about 12 or 13 years old, but luckily my dad put my jersey in my carry-on along with my other necessities. My checked bag came in a day or two later and that would have been too late for my tournament. Without my dad packing my jerseys I would not have been able to play in that tournament. Moral of the story: always carry your volleyball necessities when traveling, no matter what. If you don't have your volleyball gear, you won't be able to play and that is much worse than losing your bag.” -Shawna
We’re partial to packing game-day items in the carry-on. Athletes prep weeks, months and years for events. Why leave playing up to chance if your bag makes it to your destination. No one wants to watch the NCAA Championship with the star sitting on the bench because she doesn’t have a uniform or shoes.
4. WHEN NOT KILLING VOLLEYBALLS, LEARN TO KILL TIME
“I ALWAYS bring my laptop to kill time, so I can catch up on all my shows on Hulu. I also bring books to do homework.” – Sarah
“I like to listen to music or watch my favorite TV shows on Netflix.” Favorite things to watch? “Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy and even Glee.” – Shawna
If you’re not the type that likes to explore the city think about packing something to entertain you between matches and practice. Something as small as a deck of cards or apps on your phone could lead to hours of fun.
5. WORST THING YOU EVER FORGOT TO PACK
“Extra knee pads come in handy when competing in long tournaments in case it gets a bit wet from that day of playing. Febreze/body spray will always keep you and your gear smelling nice. Glasses of course will help when you’re not wearing contacts, it’s healthy to let your eyes breathe.” - Shawna
Bringing spares of things make a trip a little more comfortable. Items for hygiene, like Febreze, make it more comfortable for those around you.
WHAT MAKES OR BREAKS A TRIP FOR YOU
“Bringing local snacks from Hawai’I definitely gives me a little energy and joy. I really enjoy Li Hing gummy bears and worms.” – Shawna
“Some of the mandatory things I always bring on trips are my IPod and Beats headphones. Listening to my music before games is a must.” What’s on your playlist now? “Watch Out For This by Major Lazer, Work Remix by A$AP Ferg, Dreams and Nightmares by Meek Mill.” – Sarah
“I definitely always need to bring my ChapStick. One trip to Iowa State I forgot to bring my face lotion. It was terrible. I always make sure I have my ChapStick and face lotion for when I travel. Traveling is just not easy on my skin!” - Molly