Friday, May 30, 2014

Packing for the journey………..

Be forewarned - this is a long post. If you make it to the end, bless you. If you are bored stiff after the first paragraph, forgive me. You know I love to travel, each journey is a new adventure, and this is how I go about it.

With the summer travel season looming, several friends, including some bloggers, have asked me for packing tips. Me, the one who has traveled to all seven continents, and required clothing for several modes of transport including camels in Australia, elephants in Africa and Asia, Zodiac boats in Antarctica etc. Me who loves clothes and fashion. Me who needs a giant cosmetics bag for anti-aging products for everything, not just my face! Me who feels sorry for men who require just two pairs of boring shoes for travel, whereas we gals need a separate suitcase (we rarely get it though!) just for our gorgeous footwear!
For me, choosing the right clothing for whatever the vacation location will be, is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I still spend weeks before leaving on that jet plane trying to choose the perfect wardrobe. Some of you will think I'm too obsessive about putting outfits together, perhaps ridiculous spending so much time in and out of the closet, or just plain nuts trying to travel in today's world arena where security, baggage weight/size restrictions, and little plastic baggies have become the main thrust of actually being able to leave home on public transportation………and lightweight clothes are definitely a must.

Click pics to enlarge for details

OK, got that frustrating part off my chest, now I'll share with you a few basic tips on how and what I pack, using my upcoming visit/cruise to the UK, the Baltic states and Russia as a guide of sorts.

Neutrals don't have to be boring. I'm basically a neutral color dresser, my neutrals being - grey (in its myriad of shades from smoke to hematite), navy, dull olive, black, white, cream, tan. Then I add one color that works with all the neutrals - mine is hard to explain but think a blend of amethyst grey/hazy lilac/mulberry wine/dusky lavender. I starting gathering pieces in these shades some years back. Don't ask me why, they just seemed to work for me as I don't wear primary colors, or anything with bold patterns such as florals.
So, with your colors planned it's easier when you look in your closet, scream, and then calm down and take out all the neutrals that just may work. Of course all is dependent on the climate. Are you you traveling to tropical islands or the Antipodes Islands? For me tropical is not exciting as I don't like heat…….whereas the chilly Antipodes way out in the Southern Ocean off New Zealand, were heaven on earth when I visited!

This trip means being prepared for mixed weather conditions. Scandinavian countries are much cooler than where I'm coming from, showers are possible in June. A light raincoat and a collapsible umbrella, always a plus. I recently found a fabulous light, unlined, Eileen Fisher raincoat (above) on sale. This will be my travel coat and by the looks of the long term weather forecast, I may need it in several countries, including of course England! I love that it's already a crinkled fabric, greige, and has a snap-off hood.

Today I did my final (hopefully) run through the portable rack above - love this for organizing out in the bright light - closets are usually dark. Because I will spend fourteen nights on the elegant Queen Victoria, and five nights are classified Formal, like most women, my initial thought was "NO, no, no, evening gowns". I cannot go on vacation with one suitcase and be expected to pack ball gowns - besides, I don't even own one! Cunard is one of few cruise lines trying to continue that "Golden Age of Ocean Travel" I told you about in my last post. All well and good IF you're on a world cruise, can have additional shipped luggage awaiting you at several ports, and have millions to pay for it all! How do I get around this? Once again I'll be winging it in hopes the maître d' allows me to pass through into his hallowed dining room wearing…………… tuxedo jacket, skinny black pants or long silver skirt, a bit of bling, and carrying my cute little evening bag!  No sideways/down their nose looks at me on the Queen Elizabeth or the Crystal Serenity in this outfit, hopefully this ship will be as kind………….and there's always the Lido as an alternative dining experience where the fun t-shirt bunch hangs out because they didn't pack evening gowns or tuxedo jackets!
The rest of my clothes are basic - a few casual jackets, cropped pants, a pair of long shorts in case there's a warm day, plenty of lightweight tops with different sleeve lengths, one heavier striped jersey, a zip nylon jacket and pants for promenade deck walking/exercise, a ball cap, my lovely Aussie brimmed rain hat.……..and the usual underpinnings.

Accessories are important when outfits are limited due to luggage restrictions. I love scarves and have many, they can change your look in an instant making even a plain t-shirt look dressy. Can't take them all but have picked out lightweight favorites that work with my clothes. Same goes for jewelry - don't take precious things, instead lots of pretty costume pieces. I love bold silver necklaces, wide bangles, big rings, small stud earrings for daytime sightseeing, then some dangling glittery ones for evening.

OK - what we all have too many of, shoes of course! Above, on my silvery evening skirt - note another pre-wrinkled fabric so great for travel - is my recent purchase from the Walking Company store. I am so in love with these Taos sandals for several reasons.They are so comfortable and lightweight even though all leather, plus a cork footbed, and beautifully made in Portugal. The Velcro fastening on both straps under the silvery discs makes them very easy to do up/adjust. The heel height is perfect for me - I just cannot wear really high ones any longer, leaving them to the younger set. The gorgeous grey color is perfect for my wardrobe - BUT they also come in many other colors so I think I will have to get another pair later - cobalt blue or vintage red perhaps.

The socks came as a free gift with the Walking Company purchase - it was a new store opening in my local mall. These are the best walking socks ever with padded sole and heel, but not bulky at all. I will be wearing them with my always comfy, but far from elegant, Keene sandals come rain or shine as I toddle around the bumpy cobblestones of old cities. I also need my loafers, ballerinas, and those marvelous pewter cut out sandals - made in South Africa but purchased in Australia.

I've not a clue as to how I will fit all these shoes into my one bag. Bob's bag is larger, he's only taking two pairs of shoes - if I'm good perhaps he'll tuck a couple pairs of mine in with his. As for those anti-aging potions and lotions, and all the other paraphernalia required, who knows where I will stash them.  

You may have been one who asked for packing tips. If so I hope you gleaned something helpful here…..or are you thinking that staying at home and being an armchair traveler might just be fine after all?  


  1. Mary, you are so organised. I guess after the travelling you have done it becomes second nature. So practical to work everything around one colour and pop in accessories. Have a wonderful holiday!

  2. I am becoming more and more of a fan of neutrals, too! They are flattering, can be dressed up or down, and are typically perfect for any occasion (with the right accessories). Even though the honeymoon is 7+ months away, I am already planning what to bring to the Caribbean - even though we've got a SEPARATE Caribbean trip with Patrick, Kara, Mom, and Dad coming up in 2 weeks!! I finally bought myself a night brimmed hat for the beach (great on-sale REI purchase), some Teva sandals for hiking, and a few "swim dresses" (casual beach dresses that are made of a material similar to bathing suit fabric, so they are okay for getting wet) from Athleta. I will probably need to make a packing post, too, so that I can share my new travel goodies!

    Wishing you two a wonderful vacation -- please give my love to John, Alison, and Harriet (I believe you or Mom mentioned that you'd be seeing them in London?) I miss them dearly!

    xo Cassie

  3. I love the colors of your wardrobe Mary. I have always had a problem packing shoes! I try to pack just two pair and that NEVER works lol.

  4. Dear Mary, I love the colors you have chosen for your travels. They would work well for me this September in France and Italy. I never take more than 24 to 25 pounds of luggage. I travel with silk and cashmere, all very light and all can be layered when it gets cold. I only take 2 pairs of shoes (your silver from the Walking company and the leopard ballet flats I would love to have). If there is anything I need (raincoat?) I will buy an umbrella. Of course winter travel is a whole new challenge. Most of all, I hope that you have a wonderful time. It sounds like you're going to have a great adventure. ox, Gina .

  5. It's an art, Mary, and you've perfected it. Like you, I think shoes are very important - shoes and scarves! You will be comfortable and elegant and I just know you'll have a wonderful time.

  6. Armchair all the way here, which is why I'm so glad that you're going and will share. ☺
    Lots of great information and I have a friend who will very much enjoy reading so am emailing her the link asap. You dress so beautifully and I'm sure that no one will look down his or her nose at you!

  7. Great packing strategy. I try to take just two pairs of shoes, although for formal nights I slip in another one. Your wardrobe of neutrals is beautifully coordinated there on the rack. Love the Eileen Fisher raincoat. Packing well and thinking this all out beforehand means that you can enjoy your vacation fully without worrying about clothes and such.

  8. Miss Mary, have you ever seen this website? It is wonderful for trips with some of the great ways she showcases intermingling outfits!!


  9. I looked at the pictures and got the message. Happy travels.

  10. I'm driving to my nearest Walking company store to find a new pair of shoes for walking in England this summer. Thanks for the tips!

  11. Good tips, Mary! I wish there were room for me in that bag. ;-)
    Love all your shoe choices, and I'm going to try to find some of those socks.
    Have a fab time!

  12. great tips Mary, it's all about finding the right colors to go together and the scarves are the best tip yet! Love following your journeys!

  13. Smiling! Yes, I always start with a color theme too and then add one scarf for a touch of color with my black theme.
    I travel very light, but I agree the shoes are the challenge. I am almost packed for our adventure, but then it is only
    one week and not as long as your adventure. Taking a sarong type cloth that I can wrap for either a dress or a long
    skirt. Love crinkle, so one crinkle dress too. Oh how fun. I hope you have the time of your life with just the 2 of you.
    Happy travels! xoxo m

  14. Squeals and high fives here Mary, as your colour palette is so me!
    Neutrals in greys and the murks are perfect since I've let my greys shine through now - sadly I can no longer wear camel or cream that I always loved.
    Adore your Eileen Fisher unstructured coat, perfect for travel.
    I would have bought the Walking Company greige sandals too - very sheik!
    Love the tuxedo for evening, don't even glance at the maître d' as it glide through the door - it's perfect!!!
    Have fun - I know you will. Rosie, (one of my embroidery girls) and her husband boarded the Queen Victoria in San Francisco earlier in the year - they loved it too!

    Love to both you and Bob
    Shane xox


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