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On Packing, for the Ladies

By Tracy on (with 0 comments)

CoolMax brand label Art and I have traveled extensively over the past several years, many of our trips have lasted a month or more but I've never faced a packing challenge remotely as difficult as this! Even an airplane as cavernous as the Pilatus has its limits. I'm relying on many of my old standbys like my lightweight travel shirts that wash out in the sink and dry overnight- they're made of high-tech blends of polyester microfiber, nylon and CoolMax fabrics. There are many good labels but Columbia and Royal Robbins are the brands I seem to have the most of. I like how the long sleeves convert to short by rolling and buttoning them in place and the pockets are great for carrying credit cards, ID, and cash, instead of in my bag. A good place to shop (believe it or not) is Cabelas, REI, and Bass Pro Shop. There are tons of great colors and some of the fabrics really feel like cotton these days. The important thing here is weight; these high-tech materials are super light, and pack really small. I also like the travel pants that wash out and dry overnight for the same reasons, and shocking as it may sound to those of us who prefer to shop at Neiman's or Bloomingdales, but tried and true JC Penney has a fantastic selection of inexpensive khaki pants that are wrinkle-free, stain- resistant, and virtually indestructible. Given that we only have a month before launch- yikes! I shop on line to save time and expedite shipping.

As for evening attire, it seems to always work out that I put together a lot of outfits that I end up hardly, if ever, wearing. I get all excited about this or that piece that's been in the closet- just waiting for this trip; ultimately, after a long flight, customs, baggage, taxis, and late check-ins, I end up going to dinner in a Columbia shirt and khaki pants! We were on a trip once where another couple we were with kept shipping things home- it seemed almost every week, and climate change, they were packing up another box. They spent many hundreds of dollars shipping dirty laundry back to the States; ouch. If we have to much stuff, Art and I will just drop it all off at the nearest church charity box (We have given things to our guides also). I try never to bring along things that are so special that I can't leave it behind if need be. In the end, no matter how great our selections, everyone will still be seeing us in the same outfits for three months. With this in mind, I am packing two dresses, a small collection of "smart casual" knits that mix and match, and I never leave home without my black pant suit- it's never let me down.

Over a three month trip, however, even a great suit gets dull, and given limited packing space, I like to spice things up by accessorizing as I go. It's fun to wear things from the country you're currently in. It's far easier to buy a new scarf, belt, or dress in a nice shop somewhere than to try to get rid of a bunch of extra stuff you don't have room for and really don't need. I'm as guilty of overpacking as anyone else, for our five week flight around South America, I came home with all sorts of things I never used. For a two- week trip to Central America last fall I packed what I thought was a week's worth of clothing and still came home with stuff I never used. This is why I've decided that, for this trip, I'm packing for just two weeks- you heard me, only two weeks. Rather than trying to cover every possible fashion occasion for three months and twenty-seven countries, (Even Princess Diana would have had trouble with this one!) I'm heading the other direction and going minimal.

Perhaps this will be the trip that I finally use and wear everything!

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