Leaving on a Jet Plane
By: Noelle McBride
Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with all things French. I took three years of High School French which means I can say a grand total of three french phrases (one for each year of HS french. Lol)
Je m'appelle Noelle.
I know you are impressed. I would be, too.
I have always dreamed of going to the City of Lights and figured it was a far off wish that I honestly did not believe would ever come to fruition.
There are many things in my life (that I so carefully planned when I was 12 years old) that did not happen the way I imagined. Can anyone else relate?
Enter into the picture, my dashing husband, once he caught wind of the wish and dream of my heart to visit France, he started planning to take me as soon as possible.
In between we did more travel together than I had done in my previous 10 years combined! In the last four years we have traveled to…
San Juan Islands (twice!)
Disneyland (Once with kids and once without!)
Utah (3 times)
Both of us LOVE to travel and frankly that is quite a few trips in that short of time. Some of our trips have been to visit family, several were college trips to help our two oldest decide and then get them to the college of their choice. We also plan one big family trip a year and do lots of little quick family day trips around where we live.
The other trips we take just as a couple, are usually piggy-backed with my husband's travel for work. We are fortunate he has a job that requires him to travel periodically. I don't always go with him, but when it makes sense we take advantage of the fact that much of the cost of traveling will be covered by his employer. While he works during the day I explore the area and we play together in the evenings. This has been great fun, fueled my Wanderlust and is the secret to our frequent budget friendly travels.
Before marrying my husband, I was a notorious over-packer. I wanted to make sure I always had everything I needed. It was a serious fear of mine to forget something. I would come home from a trip with a stuffed suitcase full of oodles of clean clothes and entirely too many pairs of shoes that did not get worn.
Our first real vacation after we were married was our honeymoon to Hawaii. After staying in a gorgeous bed and breakfast for our first few days as husband and wife, we packed our bags to go to Hawaii.
I distinctly remember standing in my living room shoving a few more things in my already stuffed suitcase, that I knew I could not live without. We were on a tight timeline to catch our flight and I remember having such a panicky pit in my stomach that I was going to be without something I desperately NEEDED in Hawaii. (Ironically, I ended up needing feminine supplies in Hawaii, on my honeymoon, no less.) If I had any doubt of the amazing man I had just married, there was none after that adventure!
It took me the next year to settle into our new home before I realized that my over-packing was really a manifestation of the insecurity that had existed in my life, previous to my marriage. It wasn't just trips I over-packed and over-planned for. It was my life. (Huge A-ha!) Prior to my marriage I would haul around a purse, slightly smaller than a carpet bag and proceed to pull anything and everything out of it, just like Mary Poppins, should the need arise. With this realization it allowed me to let go of the last vestiges of that old fear. I then, began to systematically think and research what I really needed to take on these trips, became a much more savvy traveler and I am happy to report that my daily purse is now the size of a wallet. (It's true!)
As you may have already guessed, this past summer was the year my husband was able to make my fondest wish and dream come true. We spent 13 days traveling Paris, France and London, England. (Cue the crying with sheer happiness, here)
I was so thankful we had had all these little trips in between because packing for Europe took all my travel know-how.
If you go onto Pinterest you will find a plethora of packing lists and tips. In my research and during my careful planning phase I realized that good packing comes down to a few general guidelines for building a working wardrobe while traveling.
*The quantity of clothes you take depends on the length of your trip.
(If you put in the length of your trip into Pinterest, it'll show you how much to pack for that many days)
For our trip to Europe I took:
2 pants (black and blue jeans)
4 skirts (two pencil, one A-line, and one High- Low long skirt)
3 pair of shoes (1 pair of flat Sanuk sandals, 1 pair of Supergas tennis shoes and 1 pair of Dansko wedge heels)
7 short sleeve shirts
2 long sleeve shirts (button up jean shirt, pull on lightweight sweater)
1 lightweight cardigan
1 short jean jacket
1 scarf, 1 sun hat
We packed enough for 1 week of clothing. We had planned on washing our clothes in our hotel bathrooms and even did it once but it was honestly a bit more laborious than either of us thought it would be. When we went to England we found a local laundromat that catered to travelers. We washed and dried all our laundry in 2 hours for $25. This included the soap and everything. It was awesome and allowed us to later use precious time sight-seeing instead of trying to wash laundry each night. (Double win!)
If I could change anything about what I packed for this trip it would probably be to add one more skirt-or trade the long HL skirt for a shorter A-line style. The HL style was a beautiful dramatic skirt but very warm and not easily washed or dried by hand. When traveling in the summer, I find skirts to be cooler than shorts which is one reason I packed them. The other is I find them more versatile in creating a travel wardrobe. I also could have added in another dress instead of a skirt. Everything else was just about right for quantity and style.
*Use the rule of: two colors in your wardrobe and two neutrals.
This is an important one and really the key to not over-packing your clothes. My two neutrals were white and black. My two colors were deep sapphire blue and true red. Everything in my wardrobe was either those colors or a combination of them. This meant everything went with everything! This allowed me to mix and match outfits to create different ones for different days. Often my bottoms would stay the same and I would simply change into a clean top.
*Packing cubes are totally worth the investment and make life so much easier!
For years I have seen and read a ton about packing cubes. I did not think they were that big of a deal. I have always rolled my clothes into nice neat logs all on one side of my suitcase and used the other side for toiletries etc. But as I was reading and realizing what I would need to pack for this trip I knew I could not fit what I needed using my traditional method.
I looked in stores and online but could not stomach plunking down the amount a set usually ran for. I just about borrowed a set from a friend, who refuses to travel without them when I came across an ad on FB marketplace for packing cubes. A frequent traveler couldn't find exactly what he wanted for cubes so he invented his own and was selling them for a song! The reviews were good so I bought two sets, one for my husband and one for me. Best $20 on packing supplies ever bought.
I loved them and can't believe I waited so long before having them when I travel. They pack a ton more in a much smaller space and are great for keeping clothes organized in your hotel room and in your suitcase. I am a believer and will happily never travel without them again.
When purchasing cubes look for ones that are made of a sturdy material and have two zippers. One for you to place your clothing in and the other to zip everything into a smaller size. Also a nice breathable fabric on the sides is great for keeping your clothes smelling fresh. Mesh on the sides can tend to rip, so be careful of anything too fragile.
One thing I would add to my set of cubes, is a way to list what's inside. You can't see inside from the outside, you have to unzip it to see your clothing. Some other packing cubes styles I saw had clear pockets for you to slide labels into of what that cube contained. Give them a try, you won't be sorry!
*Pack 2-3 pairs of comfortable shoes
Let's talk shoes. I am a shoe snob but I wasn't always. When I was younger I would purchase whatever was cutest and cheapest and wear them out only to replace it with whatever was cutest and cheapest again. I did this cycle for years and had the shoes to prove it. But somewhere along the path of getting older I stopped desiring quantity and started looking for comfort. Plus I needed good quality, as well as comfort for as much running around as my lifestyle called for. Slowly but surely I started replacing old cheap, stylish shoes for better quality that were much more comfortable.
Knowing we would be walking a lot on this trip I was very careful about what shoes I chose to pack. (we walked about 100 miles in 13 days or the equivalent of 5 marathons. That's a lot of walking!) I did a considerable amount of research to make sure my shoes would be up to snuff.
I'll share some of my favorite brands that I think combine style with comfort. Something I find essential!
Sanuk: I found these for our first trip to Disneyland (I was 40 the first time I went to DL!!!). They are now the only shoes I will wear when we go to DL. (We walk about 23,000 steps per day when at Disneyland) What makes them awesome is the sole of the foot bed is designed like a yoga mat for your feet. (Ahh!) They have all sorts of styles and last a super long time! I've had one pair I wear almost everyday now for 3 years. Plus they are my go-to sandal whenever we travel. So those babies have logged more miles than even my running shoes! (PS Sanuk is also the official shoe of DL, as well!)
Superga: These are the European equivalent to Keds or Converse but are much more comfortable and stylish. Plus they wash up like a dream after the dirt and grime of travel. I have a white and light gray pair. I actually prefer to travel with the light gray pair because they will get marked up, no matter how hard you try. This trip to Europe I brought my white ones and they did get pretty dirty, but you couldn't beat them for comfort and style. (It also doesn’t hurt that Kate Middleton likes them too, and we all know she has impeccable taste!)
The last two brands I love; Kork-Ease and Dansko are a bit more expensive and really require you breaking them in before a trip. I found that I had to wear them daily and for long walks before I got calluses in the right places. In fact, I left my Kork-Ease sandals at home because I knew they weren't broken in enough. My Danskos looked amazing and were nice and comfortable but I did not wear them long enough so I ended up placing moleskin on the spots that were rubbed raw. After Europe they are definitely broken in! Both these brands have a wide variety of styles for different seasons and height of heels, designed to be comfortable and stylish.
*Do not pack anything you do not love
This is my last suggestion or guideline, it may seem like a major; "Duh, of course not" but I can't tell you how many times I have spoken with clients as they are preparing for a trip and inevitably they end up packing something they would not wear at home. I have also had clients that will even pull clothes from the "too small to wear right now" side of their closet, somehow expecting the smaller clothes to miraculously fit while on vacation. Packing clothes that don't fit properly takes up valuable real estate in your suitcase, not to mention is beyond frustrating when you are not at home and realize you literally have packed nothing to wear.
Pack what you love and feel confident wearing or that you know will photograph well. That is something else I learned on this trip-I knew we would be taking lots of photographs (we took about 1000 between the both of us) and I quickly learned what photographed well and what didn't. Always go with what you feel good in, what fits and what photographs best.
The rest of the information you need for packing is really easily accessible on Pinterest. There are fantastic lists that are designed for seasons and very complete in what you need for the length of time you're gone. There are even all sorts of ideas and suggestions to make you a more savvy packer and expert traveler. Hopefully these guidelines here have given you a good framework to increase your packing "know-how" when it comes to packing a travel wardrobe.
One thing you may have noticed is Dear Charly Boutique is starting to carry more basics along with the traditional trendy pieces. We've talked a lot about basics in past articles but as a quick recap; basics are the building blocks to a good functional wardrobe where everything works with everything else. They are also the foundation for packing, as well! So get excited because Dear Charly is making building your wardrobe and traveling with comfortable and stylish clothes, easier than ever!
PS Next up… Look for videos and an article on how to find your perfect fit…in everything!