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Tricks for Traveling Light: Clothes

Everything in two bagsWhen I travel, I go as light as possible. Every item I take is carefully chosen, and everything fits into my carry-on bag and my "personal item"

Usually, my carry-on bag is an Osprey Aura 50 and my 'personal item' is either a day-pack or my laptop bag.

Your goal should be to get everything into the two bags you bring aboard the plane.

Yes it's possible. Anyone can pack this effectively and efficiently. I'll help you know what to look for in clothing to enable you to pack light and still be prepared for whatever you encounter on your adventure.

Basic Guidelines
The clothes you bring on your journey should be:
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Fast drying
  • Multi-functional
  • Have secure pockets
  • Be comfortable 
  • Reflect your personal style
Why are these qualities important?
When we travel, we don't know what we'll run into around the corner. Laundry facilities aren't always accessible. It's important to have the option to wash a pair of pants in a sink in your hotel room, letting them hang to dry overnight. You might spend a morning hiking and the afternoon shopping. You'll have more time to do both if you don't have to stop by your hotel room to change clothes. If you were to say, go to an outdoor retailer, and say, "I need clothes that dry quickly, won't wrinkle and resist stains," you'll might be directed to a long sleeve button up shirt and a pair of zip off pants

This outfit would be functional, but I think it is also equally important to feel stylish and comfortable in your clothes. When I first started traveling, I thought I was forever doomed to wear quick dry cargo pants and button ups. This is most definitely not my style. It also identifies just about anyone wearing it as a tourist. Consider where you're headed. Going to Paris, Monaco or Italy? You'll want to feel stylish and chic. Headed to the Caribbean? Breezy clothes fit the mood and the environment. Bright, vibrant colors are fun in Brazil, but may not blend well some parts of the Middle East.

When choosing styles, consider the following things;
  • Your destination: will you need to cover your skin or can you wear tank tops and shorts?
  • The styles you already wear on a daily basis
  • What kinds of clothes you are comfortable in?
  • Clothes that make you feel good
  • The activities you want to participate in
After lots of research and trying on hundreds of outfits, I've found a few pieces I wear until they have holes in them, and then I go buy the exact same item. Here are a few of my favorites:

Its hard to believe, but every single item shown above serves more than one purpose and is made from quick drying fabric. These are not only my favorite travel clothes, but clothes I enjoy wearing when I'm not traveling.

Here's the list of the above items:
-Bliss Knickers by prAna- exploring town, climbing, hiking, swimming, biking
-Bliss Pants by prAna- exploring town, going to dinner, hiking, climbing, biking
-Yoga pants from prAna-long flights, climbing, hiking, dinner, exploring
-a functional tank top from prAna- climbing, yoga, dinner, exploring
-Patagonia R1 1/2 zip jacket- long flights, chilly nights, hiking
-ExOfficio hoody- sun protection, skin coverage for conservative areas
-Columbia Marrakesh Maven dress- out to dinner, dancing, exploring town
-tie front shrug to wear with tank tops and sleeveless dresses to cover skin

When you shop, look for brands that make travel oriented clothes. Most brands that make clothing for the great outdoors make clothing for travel. prAna, Columbia, Patagonia, ExOfficio, Mountain Hardware, The North Face, Royal Robins, and Isis all make high quality travel clothes in a wide range of styles. For fast dry times, look for high polyester or nylon content. Stay away from high percentages of cotton and spandex. A little spandex (2 to 8%) is a good thing because it makes clothes more comfortable on long rides and diverse activities. Merino wool is a great option for warm and cool arid climates. It's soft, dries quickly and can be worn over and over again without starting to stink. Think about what is already in your closet that you enjoy. Try to find pieces that have a similar cut or look. You might already have items in your closet that will work well. Read the labels! Often you'll be surprised you already own clothes well suited for travel.

Try to choose pieces that you can layer or pieces that are multi-functional. Every item you bring should serve more than one purpose. A long sleeve tunic top layers well over a tank top for chilly nights, provides sun protection or covers skin when visiting a conservative area. I always bring pair of black yoga pants that dry quickly. They are comfortable on long plane rides and perfect for rock climbing. Long tunics or dresses can be belted and worn with heels or sandals for dinner and dancing, or layered over jeans or leggings for cooler weather or more causal evenings.

Sometimes I bring things that break those rules...

I've also learned to bring a few things that don't fit those standards. While I was in Dubai, I really needed a pair of heels, or at least a pair of dressy flats. We went out to dinner and dancing a few times and I really didn't fit in wearing water sandals or hiking shoes. A dark pair of jeans that fit well and look good can be dressed up or down, worn with hiking shoes or heels. One might think, "How would I have room in my bag for a pair of bulky, heavy jeans or a bulky pair of heels?" Packing efficiently left plenty of room for jeans. Because I know I'll get a fair amount of use out of a pair of dressy shoes, I can justify the space I'm taking up with them.
I also took a bikini, even though I was going to a very conservative country. I actually used it quite a bit! Usually we swam in secluded coves, which we had entirely to ourselves. Once in a while we would swim on a resort beach, where bikinis were a common sight. Flip flops are also a staple I bring from home or buy once I arrive. At our house in Oman, the front yard was gravel. I would have to put on shoes that laced every time I wanted to run out to the car. Flip flops make air port security a breeze, public showers safer, and running down the hall of the hotel for more ice more convenient.

Wondering about that pretty bag in the photo above? Check out my post next week on bags for traveling light.

Snow and Hot Chocolate :)

It snowed today in Raleigh! Although it will probably negatively impact my drive back to Greenville tomorrow, it was nice to drive home from work through a winter wonderland. The trees and houses are pretty with a blanket of snow. Our neighbors have their Christmas lights up which looked really awesome in the snow. To celebrate my mom made hot chocolate while my dad and I worked on various projects for the leather shop.
Dad's hot cocoa:

Mom's hot cocoa:

My hot cocoa:

It was only after the fact that I noticed that Dad has just whipped cream, my Mom just has marshmallows, and fittingly, mine has both.

Outdoor Gift Guide- Stocking Stuffers Part Two- Endurance Athletes

1. Keep their noggin and ears warm on a run, ride, or paddle with a windproof Gore Bike wear helmet cap $25.95
2. Chilly mornings often make for warmer afternoons. Help them transition without slowing down with Smartwool arm warmers $25
3. If they run in Vibram Five Fingers, their toes may be a little chilly in colder temps. Keep their toes and legs warm with Injinji's new outdoor calf length merino wool toe socks $16
4. Earbuds that fall out are annoying. Koss' Sport Clip Headphones won't fall out.
5. Keep them amped, even while on the couch with Christopher McDougall's Born to Run $15
6. Hard work on cold days often makes for sore muscles. Ease their pain with a Body Wrap from Carex.
7. Keep their hands warm during 3 seasons with these Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Glove When its just chilly, they block the wind without overheating. Add a liner glove for toasty hands on colder days.
8. Fuel them to the finish line with Cliff Energy Shots. Compact enough for a back pocket, fast and easy to down on the go.
9. L-Glutamine helps with protein synthesis, immune system support, cell hydration and has no known negative side effects. Get it from GNC for just $5.99
10. There's nothing less refreshing than warm water after a workout. Polar Insulated Bottles keep drinks colder longer. $11.99
11. Help them stay hydrated, without all the sugar. Elete electrolyte additive can be added to water to boost electrolyte levels without the performance zapping effects of sugar. $4.99
12. It's hard to find a good skin protection that stays on when you sweat profusely. Sol Sunguard's MultiSport formula keeps skin protected from sun and wind even while sweating. This formula "breates" to let sweat out while retaining its protecting qualities.
13. Bodyglide is a must-have for all types of endurance athletes from expedition kayakers to marathoners and cyclists. Sweat and friction combine to make for one uncomfortable experience in really awful places. Prevent it with Bodyglide.
14. Cliff Shot Bloks provide simple and complex carb fuel in a pre-portioned package. Just need a little boost? Eat one or two from the pack. Need a kick in the rear? Eat the whole pack.