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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Efficient Vacation Packing for the Fashion Conscious

Here is a challenge: packing light for vacation, but packing enough so that you look great on your trip.  For more than 5 years, I have managed to take trips to various parts of the world, for at least 2 weeks, with nothing more than my trusted carry-on luggage and a handbag.  Why worry about packing light, you ask?  Well, for one, efficient packing is a trademark of any travel aficionado.   People who travel know that there is nothing more elegant than stepping right off the plane and out of the airport (baggage claim is for the birds).  Second, airline travel is unpredictable; sometimes opportunities come up to get more direct flights at the last minute and it's easier on everyone if you have no checked bags.  And finally, it looks ridiculous to log a massive piece of luggage through subways, cobblestoned streets and up flights of stairs.  Now, if you're the type of girl who travels with an entourage and gets picked up by private car services, then this article is not for you.  Otherwise, hopefully you can find my experiences helpful.

I just got back from a 2-week trip to London and Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The main challenge here is to pack for 2 distinct climates - the cold and wet of London and the sunny gorgeousness of Dubrovnik.  Cold weather packing eats up valuable real estate in carry on luggage, but I believe that the solution is layering.  

Here is my packing list:

  • 2 cardigans 
  • 2 dresses 
  • 2 pairs of slacks 
  • 4 pairs of jeans 
  • 12 tops 
  • 3 pairs of leggings 
  • 3 pairs of shoes 
  • 2 pairs of sandals 
  • 1 leather biker jacket 
  • 1 trench coat 
  • 2 handbags
  • tons of accessories (plus as a nice surprise, my girlfriend had tons more waiting for me from her latest trip to India)!   

Most airlines allow 1 carryon and 1 personal item.  As my personal item, I use an oversized leather handbag.  This comes in handy on day trips, but is also great if I do buy anything on my trip that I need to bring back to the US with me.  When it comes to strategic packing, it's important to have a selection of basics that you can wear at least twice.  For example, you can completely change the look of black skinny jeans by using either casual or dressy tops and by changing the shoes. The cardigans came in really handy in London, since I layered them under my jackets. The Chuck Taylors were my London rainy day shoes, while the ballet flats changed up the look on the few days that the sun peeked out.  In Croatia, the tan sandals were all I needed.  And the leather boots were a staple as they're both comfortable and cute.  As for the black wedge sandals, I wore them once, and really could have edited them out of my packing.  They were completely impractical (hey, you live and learn).  I brought tons of tops and accessories, as those are easy to pack and can really spice up an outfit.  In terms of getting everything to fit, I try to roll pieces up as tightly as possible, stuff what I can into shoes and hats, and make sure that I fill up all the little corners of the luggage.

Overall, the best advice for packing efficiently is to remember that there is a limit to how much you can wear on your vacation, so don't try to travel with your entire wardrobe.  Plus, if you do forget something, that may be a great opportunity to experience the local shopping.

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