8 Must Haves for Hawaii

Our trip to San Diego this past weekend whetted my appetite for more beach-centered vacations. Fortunately, we’re off again in less than two weeks to Maui! Always the planner, I already have a working draft of my Hawaii packing list. I think I could get by for five days with just these 8 must haves.

8 Must Haves for Hawaii

one. I appreciate how easy a romper is since, like a dress, it’s a complete outfit. I love the contrasting colors and tassle detail of this one.

two. I recently purchased this retro-inspired bikini (top and bottoms) from J.Crew for a song. The high-waisted bottoms are incredibly flattering and will do a great job concealing indulgent meals.

three. What do you do when your husband is significantly darker than you and thus, never mastered the art of applying sunblock? Buy a rashguard / sunshirt so every evening doesn’t devolve into an argument over whose fault your sunburn is. I bought this one from Lands End and love it.

four. Madewell is killing it. I think every item was specifically designed for California and this dress is no exception. I have several light, easy Madewell dresses set aside for Maui.

five. I prefer spray sunblock because it’s easier to apply and because it often means getting closer to the recommended amount for adequate coverage. Supergoop! feels lovely on your skin and doesn’t have that usual sunblock scent.

six. I never travel anywhere without a pair of Birkenstocks these days. I have both the Gizeh and Arizona styles and I prefer the Gizehs just a bit more. These are perfect from sun-up to sun-down.

seven. Even on tropical vacations, light outerwear is required, if only to remain comfortable on your flight. I’ve had my J.Crew denim jacket for five years now and I love how it gets a little more worn in every year.

eight. I love a floppy straw hat to stay cool and keep my face out of the sun. This one has an extra-wide brim and is under $25.

 

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Packing Light in Europe

A friend recently asked me what she should pack for an upcoming trip to Europe. Her goal is to pack as few items as possible because she wants to travel with a (large) backpack instead of a traditional suitcase. The challenge is that she’s traveling for two weeks and through countries with differing climates (i.e., Spain and Germany & Austria). I think the following set of items accomplishes her goal of packing light in Europe while also fitting in and looking casual-chic.

Packing Light in Europe
one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve

I would pack three t-shirts (or maybe two t-shirts and one tank) in neutral colors, which gives you six different outfits with the addition of two bottoms. An over-sized cashmere sweater and a denim jacket give you options for layering depending on the daily temperature. If I was concerned about wet weather, I would swap the denim jacket for a waxed cotton jacket like this one from Barbour.

As a woman in her 30s, I can’t believe I’m highlighting clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, but I own both of these pairs of denim and they are ahh-mazing. Super stretchy and high-waisted = on-trend, flattering, and comfortable. You could also swap out the dark rinse jeans in favor of a pair of denim cutoffs.

Packing Light in Europe

I like packing dresses because they work for day-to-night and represent a full day’s outfit. Dresses are also great for warmer weather climates like Spain and this red dress is perfect for any restaurants that require polished attire. (I may need to pick it up myself for Maui and Madrid!)

As for footwear, for a trip to Europe in the summer, and with only a backpack, I’d limit myself to just two pairs of shoes: comfortable sneakers like these New Balances and a pair of Birkenstocks. If you really wanted to, you could also pack a pair of ballet flats – these Tieks fold into themselves for easy packing. I’d also recommend traveling with a foldable tote bag, like a Longchamp Le Pliage for extra space and easy transport of toiletries, a cross-body bag, and any souvenirs.

Packing Light in Europe

The ultimate trick to packing light, besides careful planning, is to wear your heaviest items on the plane. This keeps you comfortable temperature-wise and it frees up space in your luggage. With these items, I would layer the denim jacket over the cashmere sweater and a t-shirt. Since sneakers are bulky, I’d keep those out of my luggage and wear them on the flight, too. These jeans are ridiculously comfortable thanks to a heavy dose of Spandex so they’ll be comfortable even during an overnight flight.

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10 Tips for Efficiently Packing Your Suitcase

10 Tips for Efficiently Packing Your Suitcase

I spend a lot of time living out of my suitcase whether it’s for work or leisure travel. At this point, I can pack a capsule wardrobe with my eyes closed and organize the contents of my suitcase so they are easily removed and re-packed. That wasn’t always the case so today I’m sharing 10 tips for efficiently packing your suitcase.

  • Organize using packing cubes: There’s a lot of reasons to use a set of packing cubes: keep outfits separate, categorize like items (e.g., dresses, undies), or to keep clean and dirty clothes from intermingling. Personally, I use mine to keep like items together and also to separate my dirty clothes as a trip goes on.
  • Pack in chronological order: When you’re packing your cubes (or your suitcase for that matter), pack what you need toward the end of your trip at the bottom and then immediate items at the top. That way, if you arrive late to your hotel, you can quickly open your suitcase and retrieve your pajamas rather than needing to dig around for awhile.
  • Stow shoes in shower caps: To avoid marking up clean clothes, or depositing street-filth into the interior of my suitcase, I stow my shoes inside shower caps.
10 Tips for Efficiently Packing Your Suitcase
Pack heavier items, like shoes, at the base of your suitcase
  • Place your heaviest items at the bottom: There’s nothing worse than having a top-heavy suitcase fall over in the airport, or worse, backwards down an escalator. Arrange your heavy items toward the bottom-half of your suitcase so that the weight is at the base when it’s upright.
  • Use awkward small spaces for one-off items: As you arrange your shoes and packing cubes in your suitcase, use those awkward small spaces to your advantage. Stash your deodorant in the groves alone the side of the suitcase. Put socks inside your shoes. This will help you maximize the space in your suitcase.
  • Pack extra Ziploc baggies: These take up virtually no space and add virtually no weight to your suitcase. Extra Ziploc baggies are great in a pinch when your swimsuit hasn’t fully dried or your quart-size container for liquids gets busted mid-trip.
  • Stash your 3 oz. liquids at the top of your suitcase: Even if you have TSA Pre-check, there will come a time when you arrive at an airport that doesn’t offer full TSA Pre-check screening. That means you enter through the regular security line with a special pass that allows you to leave on your shoes, but you’ll still be required to remove your liquids and your laptop for screening. By placing your liquids toward the top of your suitcase, you can avoid a full unzip and just grab the bag should you need to.
  • Keep a change of clothes in your carry-on: Now that I have airline status, any checked baggage receives a “priority” tag, meaning it is unloaded first. With it, I’ve become a big fan of checking my suitcase, especially on long-haul trips to another country. That being said, I’m always careful to pack an extra change of clothes in whatever carry-on bag(s) I have so that I’ll have something to change into on the off-chance my luggage doesn’t arrive at its final destination.
10 Tips for Efficiently Packing Your Suitcase
I prefer folding clothes instead of rolling
  • Pick your poison – fold vs. roll: I’m a folder, not a roller. I find no difference in the amount of space you supposedly save if you roll your clothes vs. folding them. Similarly, if I fold my clothes nicely and place them in packing cubes, it’s rare that I find my clothing full of wrinkles when I go to unpack.
  • Check your suitcase’s weight and react accordingly: If after packing your suitcase you cannot lift it over your head, as you need to if you intend it to be a carry-on, prepare to check it instead. Flight attendants are not into the game of helping you and do you really want to bother your fellow seatmate (who is totally judging you)?
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Planning a Capsule Wardrobe for Your Next Trip

Before packing for any trip, I sit down and plan out a capsule wardrobe. With a capsule wardrobe, built around a color palette, I know I’ll have clothes that work together so I can mix and match throughout my trip. It also keeps me from overpacking, which is definitely my tendency!

Planning a Capsule Wardrobe

To plan a capsule wardrobe, start by choosing a core neutral color. My preferences are black, grey, or navy. (Brown/tan also works, but it’s not flattering on my skin tone!) The majority of my items will be in this neutral color and often include my “anchors:” pieces that I’ll re-wear, like pants, a blazer, shoes, and my handbag. Then, I’ll pick two to three seasonal accent colors to coordinate with my designated neutral. I might also mix in a color-coordinating print with a dress or a top.

Next I’ll think about the activities I need to dress for and identify pieces in my closet accordingly. Will I be going to any cultural events that might require dressing up? Will I be doing a lot of walking? Will I need active clothes for hiking?

 

Planning a Capsule Wardrobe
chambray blazer | mint green top | blue top | striped tee | floral dress | navy trousers | white a-line skirt

Above is a sample capsule wardrobe I might put together for a long weekend over the summer. A blazer serves as outerwear for places with aggressive air conditioning, including an airplane. My three tops can be worn under my blazer or alone and with either the skirt or the pair of slim trousers (loving this pair that I recently bought!). The printed dress adds some visual interest and works well for a special dinner or a cultural performance.

Planning a Capsule Wardrobe

I’d also pack a limited number of accessories that work with this color palette. I try to only take two pairs of shoes on any given trip so I like these nude sandals and navy espadrille wedges for this capsule wardrobe. I’d also take one crossbody bag, either in navy or cognac, that works for day or evening activities. And I’d pack a lightweight scarf that I can use on the airplane or against the AC.

Depending on how I mix and match, these 7 items in my capsule wardrobe can be used to create over a dozen unique outfits!

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