12 December 2013

Winter traveling, holiday suitcase packing

Have you noticed, dear readers, that I’ve been seriously slacking on the “what I wore” posts lately? Let me explain. I started that series for accountability’s sake; I wanted motivation to be creative and dress more professionally for work. (Actually, “accountability” and “motivation” and “creativity” are the reasons I blog every day about anything.)

So even though I’m not showing you what I’m wearing to work very much anymore, it’s not a hoodie and beat-up jeans every day. Promise! I’ve actually done the opposite: dressing nicely is such a part of my routine now that I don’t even think, “Hey, I should take a photo to document my extra effort.” Which was sort of the whole point. Hooray! My nutty blog plan is working!

Still, even if I don’t talk about it very much here, I do spend a lot of time thinking about what to wear. And one of the times I think about clothes most is when it comes to PACKING. Since the last packing post seemed to help several of you out, I thought I’d do another one based on my Thanksgiving travels!

As you’ll recall, Mr. P and I spent our Thanksgiving in sunny Phoenix. Average high temp: 70 degrees.

But we also traveled to the Grand Canyon during our Arizona adventure. Average high temp: 40 degrees.

And before we could even get to Phoenix, we had to get to the airport here in St. Louis via the metro. The nearest metro stop is about a mile away, and we had to walk there at six AM. Temp at that time of day in STL: 18 degrees.

(Ok, there wasn’t snow on the ground then, but still, SAME IDEA.)

So that’s a fifty-degree temperature spread that I had to accommodate in a single carry-on suitcase. How did I manage it?

After lots of flinging clothes around, this is what I finally settled on to pack (excuse the crappy lighting and mobile photo, this was taken quite literally at nine PM the night before we left):

Here’s what I took for our five days of travel:
  • three long sweaters/sweater dresses (2, 5, 11 – the last one is actually Mr. P’s that I keep stealing)
  • three tank tops (4, 10, plus a plain cotton one for layering)
  • two pairs of skinny jeans
  • one pair of leggings (6)
  • two cardigans (3, 9)
  • one dress (7)
  • two scarves – one woolen (1), one fashion (8)
  • two pairs of boots – one black and tall, one brown and short (not shown)
  • one pair of ballet flats
  • one belt
  • one puffy winter coat that could be squeezed into my suitcase

Just like when I told you about packing for our summer wedding adventure, I tried to stick with similar colors that work well together. This time, there was sort of a jewel-toned happening, with lots of greens and blues and purply-maroons. Sticking with a palette like that made mixing and matching patterns much easier.

My choices also allowed a lot of LAYERING – absolutely essential for that temperature spread. For instance, to get to the airport in freezing St. Louis, I wore that gray sweater dress (2) over jeans, plus a cardigan (3), a woolen scarf (1), and black boots. The sweater dress has cap sleeves, though, so once I arrived in Phoenix, I lost the cardigan, scarf, and boots and was ready for the 70-degree weather. Layering also saved me the days we went to the Grand Canyon and to the hockey game, where it was chilly.

Although it seems like a lot of clothes, I wore (and needed!) every single thing in my suitcase at least once, and had the perfect amount of clothes to feel like everything truly got worn but wasn’t gross or stinky. And I was prepared for every situation... except one: HIKING. I figured I just wouldn’t go, but after a few days of lots of eating and little activity, I agreed to borrow a pair of shoes and go for it. I didn’t, however, borrow hiking clothes. Sure, I could’ve cobbled together something (that cotton tank plus my PJ pants) – but I’m used to long, brisk walks in dresses every day, and there didn’t seem to be a point in changing. I can happily climb a mountain in a strapless bra and dangly earrings. Booyah!

Finally, although it seems like a lot of clothes, thanks to the magic of bundling...

it easily fit in my suitcase. (Even in the dark, now-10-PM lighting. Sorry!) Here’s how I bundled:
  • a: both patterned tanks and a pair of jeans
  • b: striped sweater dress and leggings
  • c: blue sweater and cotton tank
  • d: black dress, jade cardigan, and fashion scarf
Combine that with the gray sweater dress, cardigan, and woolen scarf I was already wearing, and that’s all my traveling clothes in less than half of my suitcase! With zero wrinkles! Plenty of room for PJs, another pair of boots, my laptop... and a bread pan and bread mix to contribute to the dinner. Because Thanksgiving!

So that was my holiday packing plan! It worked out super well, even if I don’t have the photos to take for evidence. I hope this helps! And if you need more packing strategies, this fantastic post from Audrey is even more delightfully systematic, AND she actually takes the time to photograph everything she wore. Check it out! I’m going to need those tips come Christmas traveling.

Happy sartorial trails to you!