I can only take one medium-sized duffle bag? What do I put in it?
How often you do laundry will be determined by how many pairs of socks you have (in cold weather) or how many pairs of underwear you have (in warm weather when you're not wearing socks). Girls who wear underwear like mine ( a dozen pairs for every two pairs of boxers a man can pack) are at a definite advantage...
You don't want to get stuck doing laundry more than once a week, so plan the socks and undies accordingly. Remember that you will probably not be able to seperate your laundry into dark, light, and white, so make sure all your colorful, bright stuff has already stopped bleeding. You will also be washing your sheets, clothes, towels, rags, etc all together, so you'll probably have to give up on fancy things like fabric softener. Also, be prepared to industrial-drying-machine-dry MOST of your clothing. Anything delicate or line-dry only will require a LOT more work. Worth it? You decide. We have motored down the road with five pairs of very pretty panties and one completely impractical dress hanging dry from various spots in the van.
Everything else in your bag will pretty much get worn more than twice. At least. So love it, and love it as something you are going to experience again and again and then have to let go of when it is frayed from wearing three days in a row and washing once a week.
Make sure you pick clothing that will not wrinkle, or that has a natural wrinkled appearance. You will not have an iron, and even if that shirt comes out of the dryer unwrinkled, you will need to put it back in your bag and wear it again and (maybe) again before it hits the dryer the next time.
We thought about dark versus light clothing, but since we have a blonde dog and a red dog, wearing all black because it doesn't show stains just wasn't going to work no matter what; we just took clothing we liked regardless of color.
At least one item in your bag should be something that you love and adore, something that you look great in even if you are PMS-ing, have gained five pounds, are having a really bad hair day (hair tangled, full of leaves and seedpods, no shower in sight for at least two more days), smell bad....you get the point. Have something on hand that will make you feel better when you put it on. Something you will never get tired of, no matter what. Something that you will still adore when it starts to get little pinpoint holes in it, or the seam starts to tear, or the hem comes out in places...
A note about dressing up: our budget (and the fact that we had two dogs waiting for us in the van) did not allow us to hit expensive restaurants, night clubs, that kind of thing. But, just in case, I did carry a little black dress and a pair of kick-ass boots. I am such a grrl, I know. I wore that dress at least once a week, sometimes two days in a row, with the boots, and often covered by a heavy wool sweater in colder climes. So, yes, I might have been overdressed for a road-trip, but I looked gorgeous while I pumped gas and didn't violate my Everything-You-Take-Must-Have-a -Constant-Purpose dogma, either.
When you cannot possible wear that same pair of shorts and three shirts ever ever gain, hit a thrift store, a Goodwill, or a consignment clothing store. Trade in your old stuff for a whole new wardrobe. You can do this for less than 20 bucks! When we experienced a drastic weather change, we did the Thrift Store thing again for warmer or cooler clothing. Buying a Eddie Bauer wool sweater for $1.50 is a triumph you should all experience.
If you find yourself stuffing the same article of clothing into the bottom of your duffel bag, get rid of it. You don't need extra baggage, not when you may have to move that bag around and around and around the van each and every day. The big thing is to let most of your clothing come in and out of your life, experiencing it and letting it go, experiencing it and letting it go. Don't collect. Don't store. Just wear, and wear it out.