Travel & Eats: Ten Items You Should Have Packed Before You Left Home
This article is going to give you packing ideas for women because 1)I am a woman who loves to pack and 2)if your significant male other is anything like mine, you have to fight to get him to wear a shirt with a collar instead of a tee-shirt so don’t even agonize over what to pack for him. Seriously. Throw a few items in a suitcase for him and you are done. Shirts? Pants? Underwear? Check, check, and check.
Now, we ladies are a little bit more particular. Since I have been traveling extensively for the last three years, I have learned a lot about packing; what works and what does not work, and how to get by on a lot fewer clothes than I ever would have dreamed. I am not even going to tell you what many of the other packing articles will tell you which is to stick to one color and mix and match and please. We need a few choices and we like some colors, right?
So, here you go. The perfect packing list.
- A LBD. You do have a Little Black Dress, correct? Because if you don’t, you should immediately go shopping. Your LBD can be short or long but short is generally better because a long LBD is just a whole lot dressier and limits what you can do with it. Your dress should be as simple as possible so you can dress it up or down and should be comfortable, well-fitting and preferably have some stretch to it. Actually, have some stretch to it is a phrase that works for every item in your wardrobe, at least for me. Your LBD absolutely does not have to be expensive. Crazily enough, I have found darling jersey dresses at Walmart and you can find equally cute things at T.J. Maxx, Steinmart and other similar stores. Just keep trying on and looking and you will find it.
- Some maxi dresses. When I was in high school, I had some mad sewing skilz and spent a lot of time making my own clothes, including a fabulous purple wool maxi skirt that I kind of wish I still had since maxi’s are now all the rage. Instead, I have purchased several jersey maxi dresses and pack at least one or two every time I travel. Maxi dresses can be worn very casually – I have seen women wearing them to the grocery store with casual sandals – or very dressy, depending on the jewelry or shoes you add. They are also very comfortable and very flattering, if you choose the right style. Try some on until you find one that is just right and I guarantee you will love it. Anytime I can wear something that is as comfortable as pajamas, I am happy.
- Pashminas. I honestly didn’t know about pashminas until I was on a cruise and the online store had a $10 sale which included pashminas in every color. Since they were only $10 and the rainbow of colors was a little intoxicating, I might possibly have purchased several. That night, I wore a cute maxi dress to dinner and needed something to cover my shoulders, so I grabbed the turquoise pashmina, threw it on and was a pashmina convert. Pashmina is just a really fancy word for shawl but these soft, over-large scarves really are great to wear over your shoulders. They are also wonderful on a plane. Tuck one in your purse and use it to cover up instead of one of those nasty airline blankets.
- A really good pair of black pants. I am not of the school that says black pants make you look slimmer; I think that any color is flattering if it is well fitting. However, black is great to travel in because it doesn’t show those chocolate stains from that fabulous soufflé you dripped on them last night. Or maybe that’s just me. But they are also great because any top will match them and I have learned that if you wear a super cute top, nobody really notices your pants. Your pants should be comfortable, flattering and stretchy, as mentioned above. I am still trying to find the perfect pair of black pants but I have several that are almost right. Keep looking and trying until you find the perfect ones.
- Tee-shirts. I am not a fan of destination tee-shirts. You can keep all those baggy, unattractive tee-shirts that tell where you have been – they are just not for me. However, I am a fan of nice, fitted, colorful, attractive tee-shirts like those from Jones New York or even Banana Republic or J. Crew. The great thing about these tee-shirts is that they are comfortable, flattering and you can dress them up or down. Wear one with jeans and a ball cap for a tour? Casual. Wear one with black pants and some cute jewelry? Dressy.
- Underwear. Unless you are a lot more risqué than me, you are going to need some undies to wear under those first five items I know you have already packed. Everyone has their favorite places to buy bras but I can personally recommend Soma. I discovered Soma at our local mall recently when I was just too fed up with the uncomfortable bras I had been wearing, went in and threw myself on the mercy of the sales staff that proceeded to fit me with the most comfortable bras imaginable. They have a lot of choices, but I love the racer back with a front close option as they are comfy and easy to put on. I also love the fact that you can get matching panties but if anyone else wears a XXL (which sounds huge but seems to correlate to a 14-16 at Soma) and is equally anal about having their panties match their bras, bear in mind that you will need to buy the matching panties online because the stores don’t carry XXL or larger. Make sure you buy plenty of pairs because they will discontinue the style and color right when you decide they are perfect and you won’t be able to find them any longer. Oh, darling mauve panties with lace which matched the bra perfectly…why did I not buy more of you? I highly recommend the Travelers panties as they are comfy, pack well and will rinse out easily in the sink and dry quickly. Don’t go crazy and pack all your bras and panties – one bra, a few panties and a strapless bra are all you need to bring.
- Sleeping Items. My daughter was amused when I appeared out of the bedroom of our beach house on Tybee Island in a silky gown and matching robe. She herself was decked out in sleeping pants and a tank top, apparently the de rigueur sleeping outfit nowadays. I actually also have plenty of sleeping pants (seriously, how did we live before these were invented) but I like to take along a silky gown and robe as well when I travel. They don’t take up much room, and the robe comes in handy to toss on when you get out of the shower or are putting on your makeup and fixing your hair. Plus, when you wear a lovely matching gown and robe set you can totally look like a 40’s movie star and who would not want that?
- Bathing suit. Speaking of 40’s movie stars, I have discovered the perfect bathing suit for we travel boomer women. I found the first one at, of all places, Walmart. It’s a Catalina suit that is only about $30 and it’s the best bathing suit I have ever owned. I loved it so much that I have bought it in several colors and recommended it to several friends who also purchased it. I found an almost identical suit on Modcloth and bought it but, honestly, it cost three times as much and is not as nice as the ones from Walmart. I’m serious – buy one. You will love it.
- Shoes. I am not even going to tell you how many pairs of shoes I took on our first cruise because I can’t remember but, suffice it to say that it was a lot. Way, way too many. I am not going to advocate bringing one or two pairs of shoes with you – get real – but this is not the time to pack every single pair of red sandals you own. Pick and choose the cutest ones that will match several outfits, maybe one dressy pair and some tennis shoes if you plan to do a lot of walking and that’s plenty. I don’t care for a lot of the walking sandals that are, quite frankly, kind of ugly but I do have a pair of Naturalizers that are similar to these. I can be as practical as the next gal, but I am all about the cuteness as well.
- 10. Jewels. I know you listened to me and packed that LBD and some simple but cute tee-shirts so now you are going to need some jewels to change them up, dress them up and make them look different so you can repeat some outfits because, unless you want to bring three or four extra suitcases, you are not going to be able to bring a completely different outfit for each day. This is not the time to pack those wildly expensive diamonds and emeralds you have tucked away – I’m assuming you have these, even though I don’t – but costume jewelry will be just fine. Take each set of matching necklaces and earrings and put them in a small sandwich bag, then put each of those bags in one large plastic bag. Believe me; you don’t want to root through all your jewelry that is jumbled together and tangled up each time you are getting dressed up. Now take that bag and put it in your purse or your carry-on because, even though it’s costume jewelry it took a lot of time to pick out all that cute stuff and you don’t want it to disappear out of your suitcase as it makes its way to your ultimate destination.
So, there’s your ultimate packing list. Now you just need to plan the ultimate vacation. In my case, this means anyplace with a fabulous beach. What about you?
About the Author:
Jan Ross is a freelance travel writer who travels the world and writes all about it. Her favorite things to do are taking foodie tours, finding fabulous new shops where she can buy shoes and other desperately important accoutrements and lounging on a tropical beach while a white-jacketed waiter brings her a frozen drink on a tray, possibly accompanied by some sort of succulent cheese or decadent chocolate. She may be just a tiny bit spoiled. She maintains a travel blog at www.wanderlustwonder.com where she writes about these topics and many more.