What to wear/pack...Part 4

Old Apr 24th, 2007, 11:44 AM
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What to wear/pack...Part 4

This is the fourth in series of threads about packing light. I am once again tempting fate by posting in advance of the trip in question (to Paris for one week, leaving in approximately 72 hours). I say that I'm tempting fate because the last time I posted in advance the trip ended up being cancelled at the very last minute, as described here:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34795253

The above thread also contains links to the two earlier "What to wear/pack..." threads.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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The first three "What to wear/pack..." threads all dealt with trips that occurred prior to the present restrictions regarding liquids in carry-on luggage. I've since flown to Europe twice, both for one week periods.

The first one was to Italy, last September, and I actually checked a small but sturdy bag to carry my toiletries and my usual pillow (which expanded to keep the toiletries from banging around in all that empty space), and carried on my clothes and shoes and work papers (of which I had more than usual). It was a direct flight (ATL to MXP) so very little chance that my bag would go missing, but I couldn't afford to be without anything other than toiletries for even a day on that trip (which was work).

The second was to Lisbon, on holiday with a friend, in March. Because we'd rented an apartment (so had access to a washer/dryer right there) and because we were transferring in Madrid (with usual risk of lost bag at that point), we both elected to carry-on, including toiletries. No problem whatsoever with running out of things, and I pitched most of the little bits of stuff left over in favor of fitting in purchases made while I was there.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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Toiletries aside, what am I going to take on this trip? As usual, I'm considering...

1. the weather (warm this week, 25 Celsius, so probably also warm next week)

2. whether the destination is city vs countryside/resort (as I dress more casually for the latter)

3. work vs holiday (this trip is all holiday)

4. season (darker colors for winter and fall)

This last point is hard for me, as I wear so much black that I tend to fall back on black even in warmer weather. Paris is on the grimy side, too, so there's another reason to stick with black (or at least a lot of black).

Hmm, what to do...
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 11:51 AM
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Well, old habits die hard, so I'm sticking with black. So as to not look too very severe, and also to deal with the expected warm temperatures, I'm taking mostly dresses and skirts in black cotton and prints. This option tends to present a problem for many of us, as the really comfortable walking shoes that many of us favor (or boots, in my case) don't necessarily look all that great with skirts and dresses. To that end I made a point of buying a pair of shoes last year that would work, black suede ballerina sling-back flats from Cole Haan (last season's, so I can't give you an easy link). They're made with Nike Air cushioning, so they're actually very comfortable. No arch support, so I won't use them for really hard-core touring, but fine for city walking and hanging out in cafes.

And just in case I end up someplace where I want to wear heels I'm taking a pair of mid-heel black mules.

On the plane I'll wear my bulkiest and sturdiest shoes. Boots, actually, very sturdily made cowboy-esque black ones that I purchased in a tiny shop in Lisbon just off Camoes square.

So, to summarize, shoes are...

1. ballerina flats

2. dress mules

3. boots
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 11:52 AM
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Comments/questions welcome, by the way. The previous "What to wear/pack..." threads all have considerable helpful content from others, and this one will hopefully be no different.
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Therese, glad to see you are still willing to help Fodorites loose the packing pounds Deborah
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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DeborahAnn, what about the wedding? Has that happened yet?
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 01:28 PM
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I'm taking two cotton dresses, both sufficiently tailored that I could dress them up or down.

1. sleeveless black cotton with white print, mandarin-style neck, just below the knee

2. sleeveless polished black cotton, fitted, right at knee
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 01:36 PM
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Good memory Therese, the wedding was last August and it was absolutely unbelievable.

About 1/4 of the females of all ages wore hats, I didn't bother and I made the right decision because we endured winds off the Mediterranean so fierce few of the hats stayed in place.

The ladies of the immediate family did change outfits between the cememony and the reception so I wore both dresses.

The celebration did last all through the day, night and next day but that is another story Deborah
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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Details, I need details. Two dresses? Which two dresses? And what about the shoes?
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 01:47 PM
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After dresses comes skirts, right? I'm taking three.

1. black cotton A-line, to the knee

2. black and white cotton houndstooth check, straight, to the knee

3. black and white cotton all over print (vaguely floral, but not really), to the knee
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Old Apr 25th, 2007, 01:57 PM
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I tend to wear or carry a cardigan when I'm touring, and this time I'm taking three:

1. black cotton with ribbon detail at neck, three quarter length sleeves

2. white cotton with ribbon detail at neck, three quarter length sleeves

2. black cotton, lined, with ribbon rose embroidery, three quarter length sleeves
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 02:02 AM
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Three total pairs of trousers:

1. blue jeans, a bit stretchy, to wear on the plane

2. black jeans, a bit stretchy

3. black dress trousers

Along with the jeans and the boots on the plane I'll wear a black blazer (in a cotton moleskin, a good transitional fabric) over a white top from Zara. Zara makes several different sorts of tops that have built in bras of various types (not the shelf-type bras that you find in camisoles in the U.S.), and they're very nice for layering and comfortable for sleeping on the plane.

The blazer will serve as a sufficiently heavy top layer if there's an unexpected cold wave, and will make anything else in my wardrobe look a bit more business-y.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 02:23 AM
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In addition to the basic pieces listed above, I'm taking lots of tops, some of which can be layered if necessary, and appropriate underwear. I won't bother to describe them at this point.

Switching topics now, here's my warning to anybody who doesn't want to talk about women's underwear:

STOP


GO BACK


READ NO FURTHER


Okay, now we can proceed. One of the most frequently asked questions at Fodors is regarding the suitability of shorts when traveling (or, frankly, ever outside of actual hikes involving actual mountain trails, but that's another discussion). Issues include admission to churches (because one is too scantily clad), admission to nice restaurants (because one is too casually clad), and vanity (because not everybody looks great in shorts, including yours truly).

So why do we wear shorts at all? Well, because they keep us reasonably cool, and recent summers in Europe have been very warm indeed. Dresses and skirts are an alernative for women that are actually even cooler: not only does the fabric stop at your knees, but it blows about and lets in more air than shorts. And there's no fabric between your legs to wad up and get wrinkled and sweaty.

But here's the rub (and yes, the pun is deliberate): unless the woman in question is very thin, she is likely to experience chafing where her upper inner thighs rub together. And in warm weather this effect is exacerbated, and walking just makes it worse.

So, what to do? Well, baby powder works nicely if you don't mind re-applying it during the day. Pantyhose would fix the chafing, but then, oh dear god, you'd be wearing pantyhose. A third option, and the one I choose, is underpants that are designed a bit like bike shorts. They're form-fitting and light weight. You can choose a smaller size if you want to take advantage of some of the "compressive" properties, or just get a larger size if you don't care. No panty lines, no chafing. Target sells a brand called Assets. A bit pricy at $15 per pair, but worth it for me.

From a functional point of view you end up wearing a thin version of bike pants with a skirt over top of them. The most comfortable option (far more comfortable than shorts, IMO) and one that means that I never have to consider whether or not I'm appropriately dressed.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 02:39 AM
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I always pack a light pair of bike pants in event of god awful chafing.

Keep going Therese.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 04:23 AM
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Good to know that there's somebody else out this with this problem, Sarvowinner. And willing to admit it to boot.

One of the reasons that I decided to post Part 4 in this series was that another thread asking "Why pack light?" had recently been started, and the answers have been interesting. One poster is particular is presently getting some feedback about her assertion that traveling light means traveling poorly dressed, and that's precisely what I won't do.

For reference, the thread may be found here:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34986843
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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So, yes, all well and good to have selected a carefully edited number of coordinating, comfortable items for your time abroad and packed them in a suitcase small enough to permit easy navigation on foot and in trains and so forth. What if they never make it to your final destination?

This particular trip carries close to zero risk of that particular occurrence, as I'm traveling directly from Atlanta to Paris on Delta. But were I connecting in Atlanta (from, say, somewhere in Florida) and traveling on from Paris (to, say, Lisbon or Montpellier) I would have experience more than a twinge of anxiety over a possible lost or slow bag. It does happen (it's happened to me), and although it's not the end of the world it's also something I can easily avoid.

So that brings us back to that pesky quart (or liter) size plastic zip-loc bag. Is it big enough? What can I do maximize the space? I'm going to list some of my favorite tricks, but feel free to include yours as well.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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Before I talk about specific ways to maximize your carry-on fluid allotment, let me point out that I will definitely be checking my luggage for the return trip. I'll check the original bag and carry-on a separate one (that I'd packed flat in my carry-on for the outbound flat, though sometimes I just use a shopping bag). The original bag will likely contain a couple of bottles of wine and perfume, wrapped in plastic and padded by my clothes. I've never had anything break, and given that wine bottles are designed to be shipped that's not too surprising.

Anyway, since I'm checking my bag on the return I can buy toiletries as I'd like while I'm in Paris, and that's the first "trick": don't bring something that you'd actually rather buy after you get there.

For this particular trip, I'm assuming that I'll buy:

1. shampoo and conditioner (probably Phyto, but if I find something I like better I'll likely buy it as well---I pick hair care products in part based on their smell)

2. toothpaste: I like to try different flavors of toothpaste, and routinely find something a bit different when I travel

I am taking a very tiny tube of toothpaste (that came with my toiletries kit on Delta, unexpectedly upgraded to Business when returning from Madrid). Nicer hotels in Europe often have these tiny tubes, and I keep them for this sort of packing.

I'm also taking a small amount of one of my favorite shampoos, Phyto Neutre (which smells a bit eucalyptus-y), enough for two shampoos. But rather than waste a whole rigid plastic bottle I'm putting it in it's own ziploc plastic bag.

The plastic bag trick is one that you can use for shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer---anytime you don't need a really large volume of something for the period in question, or are planning to buy replacements while traveling.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 05:34 AM
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Another pesky problem: aerosols. I avoid aerosols in general, as they just seem ridiculously wasteful from a packaging point of view. Even the travel sizes tend to be larger than I like, but if absolutely necessary get a small size and get rid of the cap. The cap itself is often enormous and takes up crucial space in your quart bag. In order to keep the container from inadvertently spraying you can wrap something around the base of the nozzle so that it can't be depressed, or (like me) just figure that it's unlike to occur. I do occasionally wrap these items in a sheet of plastic wrap, just in case.

Another type of aerosol is inhaled medications. I use two of these, and because the contents of the inhalers is liquid they both need to go in my quart bag. By taking the "bullets" out of their plastic holder (bring them along separately, in the bag that holds your medicines or toothbrush or whatever) you gain valuable space.
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Old Apr 26th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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Therese,
Just an FYI. Your inhaled meds can go in ANOTHER plastic baggie and not take up space in the "offically" safe plastic baggie. Meds are exempt from the 3 oz 'rule' (becuase of course they are safe. Just another example of the consistency and well thought out policies of the TSA!)
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