Did anyone else totally screw up their packing for TBEX, the recent travel blogger’s conference in Denver? I did, egregiously. Having deferred to the Rocky Mountain location at Keystone Resort, I completely overlooked the fact that it was in the 90s in Denver. I packed as though I were summering in Seattle – a raincoat, jeans, long underwear, and layers, you know. As a result, I ended up wearing the same skirt and rotating through my T-shirts for the entire trip. Oops.
I departed for a week in the south of France just two weeks later, determined not to make the same mistakes. My destination: Bordeaux for the wine festival – Le Fete de Vin. There were to be some fancy evening dinners, a fair amount of walking, two events on boats. The weather was forecast to be hot with some chance of thunderstorms. I might need to clean up – the cliche of French style is a cliche for a reason – but I would also need to cover some ground on my feet. Plus, there were the hours in transit, long-haul flights, lurking around airports.
I totally nailed it, with room to spare, and I still had long underwear and a raincoat.
On the plane
- Phoebe dress by ScotteVest: While it’s not a particularly flattering cut on me (it’s too blocky, if that makes sense) it’s a nice piece for transit. I liked using the big pockets for my lip balm, passport, podcast-filled phone and wallet. I’d like a more fitted shape, but when you’re spending ten hours folded into an airplane seat, who cares?
- Striped long underwear by Columbia: I have last season’s version and I wear them as leggings often – they’re totally cute. I get cold on the plane, and they’re a great layering piece.
- Zip front hooded sweater from Triple Aught: One of my favorite sweaters. It’s warm, has a stylish cut, and has zippered pockets.
- Cushe Wildrun shoes: Easy to get in and out of at TSA checkpoints, plus, they are great for walking.
- Dahlgren alpaca socks: Big wooly ones. They’re for skiing and hiking, but also for napping on airplanes.
- Pashmina scarf: Really? I need to tell you this? Right, I didn’t think so.
- Keen strappy sandals: They dress up beautifully, work for shorter walks and they absolutely make the transition to evening wear. Bonus, they don’t take much space in the bag.
- Chaco Paradox shoes: I intentionally packed a second pair of walking shoes; my feet like it when I give them something else to live in. Also, they’re cute and a little unusual in style. They felt very appropriate when I was striding about vine-covered properties.
- Five nice shirts: No particular brand – four of them white. Linen, muslin, silk, cotton. Lightweight – all of them.
- Two pairs of shorts: Longish shorts. Yes, you can wear teeny tiny shorts while swanning about the south of France. Go right ahead. Mine are just above the knee. I’m a modest dresser, especially when traveling.
- Two black dresses: One silk for evening wear, one Dharma dress from Aventura. The Dharma dress is a perfect travel piece, fine for summer dress weather in the day, but absolutely makes the transition to evening. I never wore the silk dress, but I was glad I had the option and it takes up almost zero space in my bag.
- Footless lightweight stockings: Didn’t wear those either; it was way too hot, but I packed them in case I found I needed to go all out with the dress up.
- ExOfficio rollup pants: Mine are a pale blue/gray, with a white shirt; they look like business. They’re very light, so great for heat or for when you need a little coverage from the wind or sun.
- ScotteVest Lucy Cardigan: Also new from ScotteVest, this lightweight wrap works perfectly for evenings out and covering up a sleeveless dress. It feels soft, looks cute, and is very nice for summer evenings.
- Rain shell from Westcomb: (You can take the girl out of Seattle but … ) I didn’t need it, but I always pack a raincoat – always. I can’t help it.
- The other stuff: Socks and underwear (I wish I’d packed better socks), a swimsuit, an absurd amount of cables and electronica, product and meds.
- Packing cubes: I’m not brand loyal when it comes to a system, but I actually am a convert to packing this way. My clothing stays cleaner, it’s easier to find things in my bag, and I end up packing more efficiently.
I could have easily traveled for a month or longer with this kit; for a week, it was perfect. The events turned out to be more casual than I’d expected but I wasn’t sorry I’d packed for more formal as the choices I made added little weight or bulk to my bag. I had exactly the right clothes for everything I did and had the weather gone south, I’d have had the pieces I needed to make the transition. And I had room in my carry-on sized bag to spare.
It’s rare I win so completely at the packing game. I’m hoping I’ve turned a corner and I’ll get it this right for all my future trips.
Image: Nancy Packs Her Suitcase via Flickr (Creative Commons). Awesome photo and SO not me.