I love to shop. The idea of shopping in preparation for our trip abroad was marvelous. I blissfully made lists and gathered ideas from Pinterest on what to pack, figuring out what I had to buy and what I already had. I organized my closet. It was awesome.
First and foremost, I went and picked out the biggest but lightest hardside suitcase I could find. It was a horrifically bright shade of turquoise and would surely not be mistaken for anyone’s but my own. Our relationship was a love-hate one. I loved its spinner wheels and the ease of which I could carry it, but it was too large, only being able to fill it halfway before it went over all the weight limits in Europe. My backpack ended up carrying far more than I wanted.
Upon returning home, I knew the thing had to go. First, a replacement was needed. I kept my eye out for a great sale (and I love a great sale). Black Friday came, and I found the loveliest London Fog hardside I could have ever gotten…at 75% off. What a steal. It’s retro with a neutral finish, and its spinner wheels and medium size fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately it did not accompany me on this last adventure, but I hope it will on future journeys. A serious traveler must have one loyal companion: their luggage.
My family has teased me in the past for packing too much and having the heaviest bag. I was determined this time that that would not be the case. I was going away for three weeks, through different climates, and travelling casually then formally on the cruise. Outfits for all occasions were needed and I still wanted to look great for all the photos we would be taking. Getting “stylespirations” from Pinterest was easy; I took a lot of ideas from capsule wardrobes (the concept of having only a few classic mix and match peices in your wardrobe). I have been working towards this concept since then, and it has saved me money and prohibited poor shopping habits.
I played around with a lot of neutrals and basics, throwing in jewelry and scarves to add interest. I learned the importance of packing clothes that keep well, maintaining their shape, and are easily cleaned and don’t require ironing. Wearing different bottoms is key, as this can provide you with infinitely more outfits compared to just bringing different tops. As a jeans-only kind of girl, this was different for me, and for future holidays (and even my everyday life) I definitely want to step out of this comfort zone. Dresses are also fantastic because many are lightweight and don’t take up much room, and they can easily move from day to night.
I’ve recently begun wearing orthotics after a few years of torturing my feet. Finding comfortable walking shoes was a must so I picked up an amazing pair of sandals (it’s hard to put orthotics into open footwear). They are a similar style to Birkenstock‘s, from a brand called G.H. Bass & Co. For me, walking around in my gym shoes was not an option because I wanted to blend in better than that. We also stayed away from backpacks as much as we could, especially in places where pickpocketing is a major threat. We all carried little crossbody bags that would fit just essentials. Some days we wished we had brought a slightly larger satchel or messenger bag, but we did just fine and were glad we weren’t weighed down.
Sticking to one backpack or hands-free carry-on and one small to medium size suitcase per person is imperative. Seriously, it’s more than enough. I confess that I am typically an over-prepared packoholic, but I downsized a lot for this trip and I know I could even more in the future. It’s a pain for one person to carry two rolling bags especially if they aren’t spinners (ahem Baba) and it’s important to keep one hand free. For the adventurous no-makeup sort only bringing carry-on luggage makes things easier. We more than paid the price for our bags. Although, I can proudly say that I wore everything I packed on our trip (unlike some people, ahem Baba). Every item was versatile and worked together.
As I am not really the go au naturelle type, I would never leave my makeup and skin care regime at home, hair products included. This stuff is definitely what made my suitcase heavy. My every day makeup bag is full. Since I plan on travelling more in the future, I will be investing in travel-sized version of the makeup I have to lighten my load (no bringing a full-size Naked pallet and a full bottle of foundation).
One thing the three of us ladies did was share a curling iron and straightener, and made do with small hotel blow-dryers. That saved us both space and weight. We also shared hair products so no doubles. It’s still ends up being a lot for a few high-maintenance ladies but it works. Our power converters gave us trouble when plugging in our hair tools, but it worked for things like charging our phones and cameras. This was not pleasant. Not that my hair holds a style with the humidity anyways, but it would’ve been nice. Luckily on the cruise ship there were American plug-ins (Yay!), so we curled and straightened our hair happily for ten days.
You can buy little travel-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but with the dust and everything we went through almost an entire regular bottle of each and ended up throwing out the last couple drops on the way home. None of us wash our hair on a daily basis either, and I personally try not to wash my hair more than twice a week.
I cannot stress the importance of Ziploc bags. Keep anything that can leak out in those freezer bags and your luggage will be liquid free. Literally every single time I’m on a trip something leaks out and I am thrilled that I have whatever it was in a Ziploc. Then all I have to do is give the bag and its contents a rinse. I’ve also heard you should keep your shoes in a bag (or shower cap!) so the soles don’t dirty everything; this would be good to put into practice as well to keep the dust off your clothes. I am still working out ways to keep everything in your luggage smelling fresh. Our suitcases started to smell dingy and we could not get that smell out. I’m thinking maybe dryer sheets?
I’ll probably do another post later on with more pictures of what we took and how I pack, but that’s for another time. I still need to get on with this story!