Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm a Travelin' (wo)Man


Stripes on stripes!
I'm going to bypass the Academia/Sartorial section today because I have a lot to say about the Friend Friday questions. All you need to know about my outfit today is that I forgot to safety-pin my belt to my skirt to keep it from riding up, so after an hour of constantly adjusting it at work, I stapled it. The staples didn't show because the belt is metallic, and I was saved a lot of aggravation. Office supplies FTW.

Now, on to the Friend Friday questions! They're about packing for travel, and I love to travel. I've traveled a bit around the US, including Puerto Rico, and since 2002 I've visited Europe four times, each time for at least three weeks. Packing for long trips like that is a challenge and I definitely get tired of the clothes I bring with me, but I love spending enough time in a place to get to know it a bit, so I keep doing it. So far, I've been to the UK (England, Scotland, and Wales), Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Turkey. This summer, Cary and I are staying stateside and going to California for 10 days. We're leaving June 16, and I can't wait!
    When it comes to packing for vacation, what's your mantra? After a grueling seven weeks of hauling a 70-pound suitcase around Spain and Switzerland in college, my mantra is "lighter is better." Mainly because Cary resigned as my bag-carrier after he had to carry that suitcase through Zurich, a city made entirely of stairs. So I try to pick pieces with a lot of versatility, or that can be worn over and over again (hello, jeans), and I bring a lot of accessories to jazz them up. Accessories don't weigh much.
    Ronda, Spain, 2005. I wore this shirt and these shorts alllll summer.
    What are your must packs? Comfortable shoes are number one. I'm pretty unconcerned about being my most fashionable when I'm going on a trip that requires a lot of walking, and most of our trips do. I've found that nothing will make me hate beautiful palace, museum, or cathedral more than having sore feet and a sore back. Besides that, a cardigan or jacket for layering is a must. I get cold easily, and freezing on a plane or at night in a new climate is the worst. And of course, I always bring the camera (although Cary takes all the pictures).

    El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico, 2009. My Keens sandals aren't pretty, but they kept me from falling on my booty while hiking in the rainforest.
    What are you happy to leave behind? I will be happy to leave my laptop behind on our upcoming trip to California - it's heavy! Cary has an iPad, so we can check email or update our travel blog easily from that. In the summer, I'm always happy to leave the heat and humidity of my home state behind as well. Almost anywhere else has better weather right now.

    Any packing secrets to get everything into one suitcase? First, don't pack too much. Really think about what you need and if the pieces you chose can be worn more than one way. If you're going to be gone for more than about 10 days, plan to do laundry while you're there. Once you've narrowed it down to the bare essentials, rolling your clothes saves space. So does bringing travel-sized containers of shampoo, sunscreen, etc. (and if you're carrying your bags on a plane, rather than checking them, security requires you to do that anyway). Finally, you might consider getting a suitcase that can expand to accommodate more stuff if necessary. I have this bag from Rick Steves' website, and I love it. It's size-adjustable, can be worn as a backpack, and is carry-on sized. I find that this bag, completely full, is about as much as I can reasonably carry anyway.

    Kings Cross Station, London, England, 2008. Heading to Hogwarts with all my luggage.
    Beach reading... what are you taking with you to read in the sand? I'm not going to the sand this year (I live in a coastal state), but I've been reading Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon this summer, and it's great beach reading - historical fiction/sci-fi/romance/action thriller. Last year in Austria and Germany, I read the entire series of Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde on my iPod (thank you, Kindle app), and loved them. And when I was in England three years ago, I read a crime thriller set in Yorkshire, the name of which I can't remember. It's always fun to read novels that are set in the place you're visiting. Maybe I'll try to find a book set in California this year, although it will not be The Grapes of Wrath. That book is definitely not vacation reading.

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