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Travel & Eats: Five Tips to Packing for a Multi-Climate Trip

Travel & Eats: Five Tips to Packing for a Multi-Climate Trip

By Jan Ross ~

The hardest trip I have ever taken was when we spent a few days in San Francisco in the spring and then flew to Hawaii. San Francisco was very cold, especially at Fisherman’s Wharf where we were staying, and Hawaii, of course, was very warm. I had to plan everything from a very, very cold ferry trip to Alcatraz in San Francisco to a very, very warm trip to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Oahu. What to take? What to wear? How to keep up my fabulous fashionable image but not pay a fee for an overpacked suitcase? Here’s how.

1. Get over yourself. Although, of course, you always want to look completely fabulous, this does not mean you must have a completely different ensemble for every single day. I am the last person to advocate taking 2-3 pieces in 2 colors and switching them around – please. We do have an image to uphold. However, you always want to pack a LBD, a nice pair of black pants (I recommend Norma Kamali from Walmart; the jersey pants are great for travel and very inexpensive. You can even rinse them out in the sink!) and a nice black wrap or cardigan. It’s OK to wear the same sweater, t-shirt, or jeans several times. Nobody will notice, believe me.

2. Jewelry. Nobody will notice you are wearing that LBD almost every night if you wear different jewelry or wear it with or without your cardigan or wrap. Statement necklaces are very stylish and inexpensive right now and a great way to change up your outfits. Alternate that LBD with your black pants and a cute top every night and that’s all you need to pack.

3. Layer. That cute black cardigan you’re going to wear over a dress one night will layer nicely with a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans. You can even add a pair of silky long underwear if it’s really chilly. The real secret to managing in a variety of climates is layering. If you are going to tuck anything else into your suitcase, make it another comfortable and colorful t-shirt from Old Navy or Gap. They are versatile and can be dressed up or down.

4. About that long underwear. If you don’t have a pair of silky Cuddleduds, you need one. They are great to wear under your clothes when it’s really cold, but you can also wear the top as a long sleeve t-shirt and the entire set to lounge around your hotel room or stateroom. No pajamas necessary!

5. Shoes. Yes, you have five pairs of completely darling red shoes but this is not the time to display them. I hate to tell you how many pairs of sandals I took on my first cruise. A different color for every outfit and we had to step around them all week in our tiny stateroom. Find a cute pair of dressy black sandals for evening, comfortable flats to wear on the plane (Old Navy has great cheap and comfortable flats) and possibly out touring (if they are very comfortable), and tennis shoes to wear when you are going to be doing a lot of walking. That’s all I took for two weeks in Europe a couple months ago and I was absolutely fine.

Coco Chanel said to stop at the mirror on your way out the door and take off one piece of jewelry. Less is more. The same idea applies to your suitcase. Pack it, then take out a couple of pieces. You probably won’t need them. And if you do? I guarantee there will be shopping just about anyplace you go. This is precisely how I ended up with a darling flowered dress from Hawaii and a hooded sweatshirt from San Francisco. Not having anything to wear is the perfect excuse to shop. Like we really need one.

Jan Ross is a travel writer who has visited a variety of climates and learned to pack economically while still looking fabulous. She maintains a travel blog at: