What to Pack for 36 Hours in Memphis

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Whether you’re planning a trip to Memphis, Tenn., for the National Civil Rights Museum’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination; to take in musical history at Graceland; enjoy some of the country’s best barbecue; or all of the above, here’s what you’ll need.

We’ve shared packing essentials for any 36-hour trip in previous lists, so when Elaine Glusac, our travel columnist, recently returned from Memphis, we asked her to share a few specific things she was glad she brought with her — or wished she had taken.

Then we turned to Ria Misra, an editor at Wirecutter, for the best items to fill those needs — and her expert suggestions for other things to pack to make the most of your trip. Here are their picks.

Don’t forget your:

  • Collapsible travel tote. “I wish I had a magical bag like Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter stories to swallow up all the gear I need to travel with. Catching live music is a vital part of visiting Memphis and it’s hard to dance with a giant tote,” Ms. Glusac said. Since we can’t magic away the inconvenience of carrying a bag around, the next best thing is a convertible bag that’s flexible enough for different needs. Ms. Misra suggests the Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote, which transforms into a backpack to carry a change of clothes and water bottle if you’ll be out all day, converts back into a tote for walking between shops and restaurants, and (while Ms. Misra notes that doesn’t come with a vanishing spell) it can be packed down into its own pocket when empty.

  • Sun protection. “A hat with a bill to shade your face is essential,” noted Ms. Glusac. Wirecutter recommends the Tilley LTM6 Airflow Hat, which will protect both your neck and your face from the sun. It’s comfortable and stylish, too. Even with sun protection baked into the hat’s fabric, though, you’ll still want to apply a good sunscreen and use it correctly.

  • Travel umbrella. We just mentioned sun protection, but keep in mind the weather can change quickly in Memphis. That means you’ll also want a small umbrella. This Lewis N. Clark Travel Umbrella is small and lightweight enough to tuck into a bag to protect you on days that rain, but not take up too much space on sunny days. Plus, if the wind kicks up, it’s sturdy enough to weather a sudden thunderstorm without buckling or breaking.

  • Comfortable walking shoes. “Memphis is a fairly casual town and since you also need good walking shoes you can pull off comfort and style with some pumped-up kicks,” Ms. Glusac said. If you don’t already have a favorite, broken-in pair, Ms. Misra suggests the Mizuno Wave Rider 21 or the Brooks Ghost 10 for walking around town or for cycling in Shelby Farms Park.

  • A collapsible water bottle, like this Platypus Meta Bottle. It’s perfect for those hot Memphis days in the sun, whether you’re out shopping on South Main or checking out the museums. When you do get where you’re going and order a drink, the bottle collapses down to half its original size and is easily stored in your travel tote or daypack.



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