A few years ago, my family and I went on a one-week vacation to Guatemala. When we arrived in Guatemala City, our bags didn’t make it with us. Four days into the vacation, with no bag in sight and wearing nothing but the clothes I had brought with me to the very remote posada on Lake Atitlan, I sadly realized that the annoying stench that just wouldn’t go away was coming from me. That’s what you get for sleeping and wearing the same clothes for four straight days. Ever since that fateful trip, I’ve changed the way I pack for long or short trips.
First and foremost I no longer check my bags. Nope. Not anymore. Most recently, I spent two weeks in Australia and one week in Venezuela with naught but a carry-on.
As I get ready to visit my husband’s family in Australia over the holidays, here are some tricks I will use to pack as little as possible yet create a number of fabulous outfits for multiple occasions.
First off, what will you do over your holidays? If you’re planning on lots of outdoor activities, your slinky heels may not be the right shoes to pack. Similarly, if you will walk all around your home city or town, comfortable shoes are a must. Will you have a lot of parties or family functions to attend? What will the weather be like?
To minimize fluster on packing day, two weeks leading to your trip keep notes on the functions that you have to attend and then write which articles of clothing will work best with each function.
While in Australia, I know that we will go to my niece’s dance recital followed by a jazz party. Stain resistant or dark clothing is a must, as my niece will want hugs and may smear make-up on my clothes. We will most likely dance at the jazz party, so whatever shoes I wear on this day will have to be comfortable for at least 7 hours.
We are having brunch at a friend’s house on a Saturday morning and later in the evening my sister-in-law and I are planning for girls’ night out. On a Sunday, we’re planning on driving the Great Ocean Road and in the evening, we’re having a family dinner with the in-laws. Monday will find us shopping in the city with plans in the evening for dinner out or at home. With this loose agenda in mind, I know exactly what I will need to pack.
Precise is Nice
Once you’ve identified where it is you may go and what it is you may do and what the weather will be like for the holidays, now comes the time to focus on the bare essentials.
The non-negotiables of packing are the unmentionables. How many undies and bras will you need? Once you have your final number, add three more undies. One never knows.
Will you need socks? Always add an extra pair of socks, and remember, when packing, to stuff your socks in your shoes. What will you wear to sleep? As these answers always swim in my head, I take out my suitcase about a week before I take off, and simply throw in whatever it is I think I will need when it comes time to pack.
Specific is Terrific
Whatever clothes you take with you have to (yes, they have to) play triple duty. The ratio of 3 tops to 2 bottoms will yield 6 combinations. My corduroys and blouse are perfect for brunch and girls’ night. I will pair the t-shirt and cardigan with the denim skirt for the Great Ocean Road trip. For our day in the city, I’m planning on wearing the tank top underneath the silk blouse with my skirt. If I get cold, my cardigan will keep me toasty. For dinner out with friends, the long-sleeve t-shirt, the cardigan and corduroys will be perfect. If I get bored with repeats, I have a few great jewelry pieces that will keep my outfits exciting. The jersey dress in a cinnamon color will be perfect for the dance recital, dancing at a jazz club, for shopping in the city, for dinner with the in-laws or dinner with friends. Hey, if people don’t see you two days in a row, they’ll never know you’ve repeated an outfit.
The Dashing Wardrobe
With all of my functions in mind, here’s what I have planned.
- Cinnamon colored jersey dress
- Light-weight grey colored corduroys
- Black silk blouse
- Black cardigan
- Fuchsia colored tank top
- Periwinkle colored long-sleeve t-shirt
- Solid colored pashmina
- Denim skirt
- Pair of ballerina flats
- Pair of nude-colored Oxfords or Converse
- Socks (at least 2 pairs)
- Bathing suit (one never knows! I always travel with bathers—as the Australians call it).
You may think, whoa! That’s a lot of clothes. Take into consideration that I will wear the corduroys, the long-sleeve t-shirt, pashmina, cardigan and Oxfords/Converse on the plane.
Once all is packed, along with your toiletries, you’ll breeze through security knowing that you’ve planned for the expected and unexpected. Best of all, your luggage will be there when you land wherever you destination may be.
Keep in mind, wherever it is you’re going, most likely, a Laundromat or washing machine will be near. Socks, unmentionables, t-shirts can be washed by machine or by hand. Try to keep your clothes selection to dark colored pieces. They often hide stains better. If you love light colored clothes, plan to wear them towards the beginning of your trip that way, if need be, you can launder them.
Check out both locations of Leather World, for buying just the right carry-on suitcase:
30 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
4 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116
Martini blogs on the Boston fashion scene at BeyondBostonChic.com. She goes in search of the latest trends and snaps shots of men and women around the city who really understand style.