Pack It In
By: Sharon Mosley
Heading to the beach this summer? It’s never too early to start thinking about your packing “to-do” list. Put pencil to paper and come up with a plan. Get organized and create a vacation wardrobe with mix-and-match separates — plus a few great accessories — that will have you sipping margaritas when you reach paradise, not worrying about those fabulous gladiator sandals you left at home.
Here are some travel tips to help you start packing for your trip to Margaritaville:
— It sounds pretty basic, but unless you’ve been to your travel destination before, you need to do some homework. There’s no excuse not to “google” that out-of-the-way island that you plan to visit. And, of course, check the weather forecasts. You may need to stick in a sweater or two. I always call ahead to the hotel to make sure they have hair dryers, toiletries, etc. There’s no need to pack a bulky hair dryer if you don’t need it.
— Start a list. Weeks before I go on vacation, I often wake up in the middle of the night and make my mental lists. Now, I keep a notebook on the bedside table and jot down items to pack, even putting together outfits in my sleep. It works. Then I start putting things in my suitcase, so I don’t end up having to pack everything at the last minute. You can do a final edit later.
— Think outfits. This is the easiest way to make sure you don’t forget the white jeans that go with the black tunic that doubles as a swimsuit cover-up, etc. Plus, it’s always much easier to limit yourself to one or two neutral colors that you can mix and match. Black and white is my “go-to” color scheme, and it always seems to work.
— Pop in some color. If you’ve got your neutrals down in your basic pieces that you pack, then you can easily “pop” them with boldly colored accessories. I have a turquoise pashmina that works wonders with my black-and-white combos. Then I take some silver and turquoise jewelry that goes with every outfit. A crushable straw hat (Target has a great one in the “garden” section now) is another way to add some fun to your beach wardrobe and not take up valuable space.
— Limit your shoes. I know it’s tempting to take those fabulous Jimmy Choo high heels you just bought, but remember how much room shoes can take up in your suitcase. Stick to a pair of comfortable flats or sneakers that are comfortable for walking and maybe one pair of dressier shoes, like jeweled sandals, to wear at night. I need to have my Old Navy flip-flops. But don’t try to take a pair of shoes for every outfit. Been there, done that. And how much are we paying for the extra weight in our luggage? You shoe freaks out there … try to control yourself! After all, you’ll be barefooted most of the time, right?
— Dress for comfort: Cotton, linen, jersey. Think cotton sundresses, gauzy skirts, loose-fitting linen pants or shorts. Go easy on the stuff that wrinkles and choose ones that have Lycra blends. I’m a great fan of the “Travelers” collection at Chico’s. Everything can be rolled up and stuffed into your suitcase without worrying about what it will look like when you arrive in humidity-ville and you feel like a limp dishrag — at least you won’t look like one. Remember to make your clothes do double duty. That cotton tunic will come in handy as a swimsuit cover-up and can easily be dressed up with jeans for a casual evening for cocktails at the bar on the beach. I often pull on a long, gauzy skirt over my swimsuit and top it off with a lightweight cardigan sweater when I want to be a little more “dressed” for lunch by the pool.
— Layer, layer, layer. Yes, I know you’re headed to that tropical paradise and really don’t want to wear anything but your swimsuit (of course, there are some of us who would rather wear anything BUT a swimsuit), but if you’ll be in and out of restaurants and shops, you need to consider taking lots of lightweight “extras” to pull on and off, which will easily fit into a large tote bag. Beach towels do NOT make great cover-ups when you’re strolling down the beach. In fact, they are a definite what NOT to wear in Margaritaville.
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