My World of Lighter Packing

21 May

In college, I would show up for a weekend away with little more than an overnight bag and my purse. My friends would gape at me and wonder how the hell I was going to make it through the weekend with so little “stuff”. It’s easy, people. REALLY easy. Packing 17 outfits for a 5 day trip, including two practically identical pairs of brown heeled wedges is idiotic on so many levels. Why do we girls, in particular, do this to ourselves? Why pay for checked luggage when we can fit everything into the overhead bin?

Over the past 20-plus years, I have perfected the art of packing. I believe this comes from decades of camping with my family, weekends visiting my dad, and of course that little stint abroad – including the time I spent 10 days in Italy with only an over-the-shoulder bag (which also carted 10kg of parmigiano cheese). It’s officially down to a science.

In just 24 hours, 4 of my favorite ladies and I will be heading down to Myrtle Beach for a long Memorial Day weekend of celebrating our nation’s finest by saluting them with tequila sunrises. We’ll be gone for 4 full days, and are cramming ourselves and our stuff into a little toyota camry. Our bags, which need to be kept to a minimum, will contain bathing suits, bar attire, warm clothes, something to sleep in, and “normal clothes” to wear during the day. Not to mention hair supplies and makeup! That’s a lot to fit into a carry-on sized bag. So we must be prepared. Not all trips are created equal – obviously a trip to the beach is a little different than a trip to the mountains. But for this standard Beach weekend, here are my staples.

 

The Duffel Bag:
There are literally thousands of options to choose from. Whether you keep recycling your old Vera, switch to a sturdy yet stylish L.L.Bean or Northface, or simply grab one from Walmart, a medium sized duffel bag is integral. Backpacks are my second choice. I find them to be much more efficient for trips where you need to take your stuff with you at all times (i.e. a European adventure!). But for our purposes, a duffel gives me more space, and the ability to simply toss it from the car to our rooms.

Swim Stuff:
A bathing suit takes up basically no room in a bag (also, hi let’s discuss how cute ModCloth’s suits are). Same goes for a coverup. But the towel is a traitor. There is literally no reason to bring more than one. Never. If it gets wet, wash it (or just don’t). You are likely staying at either a hotel or a friend/relative’s house which means you don’t need a second one for showers – there are always extras…

Comfort Clothing:
These will be used in multiple ways. A pair of thick black capri leggings, long/short sleeved t-shirt, and a hoodie provide a magical combination for traveling women of all shapes and sizes. You can wear them on the car/plane/whatever both to and from your destination. They are also perfectly acceptable sleepwear. And there is certainly no shame in wearing them around the house or in the evening on the beach when you and your ladies are just downing one bottle of wine after another watching the waves come in.

Day-to-Day Attire:
You’re at the beach, so let’s be honest… I don’t need much of this. I’ll be basking in my suit under the UV rays til the cows come home. But just in case I do need something to wear between the beach and the bars, here is what is going into my own bag:
1 pair of black shorts
1 grey maxi-dress (or substitute for a maxi-skirt)
1 colorful loose-hanging top
1 solid-colored tank or blouse
Choosing individual articles of clothing that can match with more than one other option will double your outfits. Besides, you’ll likely be wearing them for less than 4 hours each day. It’s not like you’re getting them dirty.

In-Da-Club:
Friday and Saturday nights in a warm environment are not difficult to prepare for. I feel like describing the clothes you should bring for a night out is ridiculous. We all know what we like to wear when we go to the bars. My personal preference (and plan) is as follows.
Night One – A Fun black sundress with a red belt
Night Two – A bandage skirt and bright top

Shoes:
You need a total of three pairs of shoes for all of the above outfits. One of each. That is all.
1. Sandals – These will be paired with your comfy clothes and swimwear
2. Flats – Choose your color wisely, because these should be able to match both your casual clothes and possibly your bar outfit
3. Heels (optional) – If you’re feeling bold. But if you can already tell they’ll be staying in your bag, do yourself a favor and leave them behind and go for a sparkly pair of flats
There is seriously zero reason to bring another type of shoe.

Note: For those of you who think you need to pack exercise clothing and tennis shoes on this trip, I laugh in your face. You’re on vacation. Just stop. You will not be invited to my beach house.

Misc:
Make up, shampoo, shaving stuff, hair dryer, straightener sunscreen… If you’re going in a group, which is generally the case, it is completely unnecessary for each individual to bring their own version of the previously stated items. Bring your own razor and makeup, and then divvy up the rest. 2 hair dryers and straighteners, one bottle of shampoo/conditioner, and one bottle of sunscreen can easily be split between a group of 5. Sharing is Caring, ladies. (PS, for Sunscreen, no matter what your skin type, you don’t need more than 30 spf.)

Oh Em Gee Look at all this extra room I have! Now what do I do??:
Here is your chance to add in an extra shirt, or a jean jacket to complete an outfit. (Note, I’m not saying this is absolutely necessary…) I guarantee your bag is lighter and happier, so there’s so much more room for activities!! (This is also known as shopping.)

Welcome to my world of light packing. I hate sifting through mountains of clothing when I’m on a trip. And I love having extra room so I can bring more stuff home with me! The key points to remember here are to be prepared. Try all your clothes on before you pack them, and come up with your actual outfits. Pick clothes that mix and match well. And don’t forget that you’re with your girlfriends… SHARE YOUR STUFF! Feels like college…

Belle

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