29 June 2015

Summer traveling, nursing-friendly suitcase packing

So yes, Team P is in Oslo! Still in Oslo, as a matter of fact. And I promise promise you recaps, but I’m waiting to write those until we return. So how about I fill you in on the planning that went into our departure? More specifically: WHAT I WORE. Even more specifically: What I wore as a nursing mom who spent half this trip on a family vacation and half at a conference for work! Tall order, I know.

I’ve covered my clothes packing lists before, and they all seem to have their own complicated twist. Here’s one from a wedding weekend in Buffalo, in which I had to cram a fancy dress in a carry-on. Here’s another from a Thanksgiving visit to Phoenix, which ranged in temperature from near-freezing (in STL and at the Grand Canyon) to mild 70-something degrees. And here’s the packing list from last year’s visit to Switzerland, which featured a wedding and freezing temps to work around (but no baby bump yet, ha). So yeah, I’m pretty hardcore on planning my packing.

And yet this packing list felt this hardest, partly because it’s a European trip that involved work, but mostly because of the BABY. Traveling with Baby P meant that I couldn’t necessarily rely on wearing outfits a few times (because: barf), and also every single outfit needed Easy Boob Access. Yes, I’m still Baby P’s primary, if not only, source of nutrition. In the privacy of my own home, I can hike my shirt up, but even with a nursing cover, I wasn’t about to do that in public, you know? Too much belly, too much boob, too much attention.

So! I basically came up with an extremely nursing-friendly, conference-appropriate, European packing list. I KNOW! It took so long to put it together (with all the other packing to-do) that I didn’t get it into Stylebook to make fancy graphics. But I did take photos of the items, which feels like an impressive feat in itself. And if you’re in the market for clothes for a European getaway, or a combo conference-vacation, OR just a nursing capsule wardrobe, I’ve provided sources where possible! (With no affiliate links because I am just not a fan.)

Let’s start with shirts. There are bona fide nursing tanks, with the little snaps on the shoulders, and yes, I brought one of those. It’s from H&M.

But I can only do so many shirts with shoulder-snappies (they feel so casual, plus that telltale click is weird in public), so I grabbed this cross-front one from Old Navy too.

Then there’s the old nursing standby of button-up shirts. I brought a basic navy-dotted shirt (you saw it in last year’s Swiss packing list; it was from H&M) and a chambray from Old Navy (the exact isn’t online but they’ve got a lot to choose from!).

I especially love the chambray button-up as it can serve as pseudo-cardigan for any other shirt (especially the tanks) by wearing it unbuttoned and tied at the waist!

I also loaded up on those flowy henley shirts from H&M that I mentioned back in March. Fortunately, because of the different patterns, it’s not immediately obvious that it’s the same shirt in different colors and patterns.

The henley-style buttons are just barely low-cut enough for nursing access, but just barely is good enough when searching for comfortable, nursing-friendly, not-totally-shlubby shirts for an international work conference!

Since Norway is on the cool side year-round, I needed additional layers. So I added a basic black cardigan and my standby khaki jacket:

Seriously, I’ve had that jacket for well over a decade. It came from Wal-Mart. I KNOW.

And what could be more nursing- AND Norway-friendly than scarves?! I brought two – one navy and white, one black and cream. Both came from Target on clearance and neither are online, but goodness knows they have a wide selection of lightweight scarves if you’re in the market!

Even when I’m not nursing, scarves are my favorite thing to pack for any destination that dips below 80 degrees. They mix a pattern into my outfit, I don’t have to worry about jewelry, and I am dang prepared for whatever weather our travels throw at us. Also: they can cover up barf. Surely you are sensing a theme!

Then there’s pants – so much easier to think about because they’re nothing special for nursing! I brought basic black cotton leggings for the flights (elastic waistband, yay):

They came from Target a few years ago, so they’re not online. But I wish I could link to them because they’re a bit thicker and more structured than normal leggings – not inappropriate to wear to the conference with the shirts above, and they can kinda-sorta pass for skinny dress pants if you don’t look too closely.

Then basic skinny jeans:

I really love these Levi’s Denizen jeans from Target (I know, I’m so fancy) because they also have a flat elastic waistband. No button digging into a travel-bloated belly! I can’t find those exact ones online but these are similar (and similarly-priced).

I brought red pants from H&M (past season, these and these are similar, though different color selection). With the top above I can basically recreate this outfit, ha:

And olive high-waisted pants, also from H&M (and also not shown in the color I have, blah):

You might notice that because all my shirts are neutral, they go with all my pants that I brought, even the red ones. Because everything matches, I could probably have packed one fewer pair of pants too (probably the olive ones?) if it weren’t for the questionable barf vs. laundry situation.

Even though it’s chilly in Oslo, I brought a few dresses too. Nursing-friendly dresses are crazy hard to find, but this cross-front maternity dress from Old Navy works well:

It’s not really noticeable that it’s maternity, though it is a tiniest bit longer in the front if you pay super close attention. Whatever, just gives me permission to stop sucking in my stomach.

The nicest thing in my suitcase is this Ralph Lauren dress with again, a wrap-style front (mine isn’t online, but this one’s super-similar, I tried it on the same day I bought mine and wanted both so hard):

True wrap dresses look awful on me (please tell me why! I would love to wear them but cannot!) but the faux-wrap style fits my figure in the right places and has the all-important easy boob access. A winner!

Finally, shoes. I debated and debated and ultimately decided that YES, I would use valuable suitcase real estate to bring my brown leather boots:

They just work well with the dresses, they’ll keep my legs warm in pants, and they’re so broken in and comfortable now, even with the heel. (Mine are Franco Sarto from Marshall’s; get thee to a TJ Maxx-brand store for your own designer boots for cheap!)

I’m a little ashamed that I actually brought four pairs of shoes total, but I made sure there was no redundancy:

In addition to boots, there’s sneakers, ballet flats, and sandals (all from Target). The faux-converse style sneakers were great for walking around the cobblestone paths at the sites we visited. Other than ease of airport-shoe-removal, other two are less practical. But they took up only a little space in my bag, and can pass for dressy, which is good for the conference.

So final tally for my 10-day vacation/work European trip with nursing baby:

2 tanks
5 shirts
4 pairs of pants
2 dresses
2 cardigans
2 scarves
4 pairs of shoes

Not my lightest packing ever, but I brought more than I’d normally pack because of probable baby vomit combined with unknown laundry situation and the conference being at the end of the trip. If it weren’t for those factors, I’d have packed one or two fewer shirts (probably one henley and one tank) and one less pair of pants (the olive ones could’ve been cut). As it turns out, Baby P has not been particularly barfy, and I totally could do laundry at our Oslo apartment. But surely the opposite would have been the case if I’d packed lighter, right?

The beauty of this packing exercise, though, is that I now feel like I have nursing capsule wardrobe for the next several months. Anytime I need a totally public-nursing-friendly outfit (or four or five), I can pull one together easily. And of course, the basic idea behind this packing list can work for any lady, nursing or not. It’s all about neutrals, mixing patterns, and layering.

Rather than show you all the outfits I pieced together from this packing list... I’ll just show you Oslo trip recaps. Coming soon after we return, promise!