What to pack is one of the biggest trip stressors most solo travelers experience when preparing for a luxurious weekend getaway.
Repeatedly, this dilemma is what I hear about from women who ask me for advice. After forty plus years of travel, I have developed a streamlined packing routine that I would like to share. First and foremost, I strive to follow the cardinal rule of French style: less is more. French women have been praised for hundreds of years for their sense of fashion and good taste. The basic tenants of their dressing philosophy are that women should wear timeless, well-fitting, classic clothes. Black, white, navy, beige and brown are the base colors. Dresses, flats, jeans, a stylish jacket, tasteful jewelry and the timeless scarf sum up the simple but chic French style.
Why What You Wear as a Solo Traveler is Important
First impressions are important. People judge you by your appearance and act accordingly. The hotel staff, a restaurant maitre d' or the stranger on the street will, intuitively, respect a solo traveler who is dressed well. With safety being the number one concern of all solo travelers, wearing tasteful attire goes a long way to helping you fend off a potential, unwanted encounter and sets the stage for attentive, quality assistance by service personnel. Someone who is poorly dressed will more likely be a target for trouble.
Packing lightweight is another key strategy.
Your luggage weight is important to your safety and your mobility. A heavy, overpacked suitcase screams inexperienced traveler, a situation a predator looks for. You should invest in the lightest, sturdiest luggage with rollers you can find. Being mindful in selecting lightweight clothing and shoes is also important, as well as limiting the amount of cosmetics, toiletries and tech equipment you are bringing.
Organizing your suitcase as much as possible will reduce your packing stress.
Use specialty bags or pouches for separating your jewelry, toiletries, tech equipment and even your shoes. Shoe bags are a staple of mine. Putting your dirty shoes in with your clothes is not sanitary and can damage your clothing. Many people now are using packing cubes to organize their clothing; I do not. I like to pack my tops, pants, dresses, pashminas/scarves together. I will often pack outfits separately if I want to be ultra-organized, a habit that keeps me from rummaging around in my suitcase trying to find something.
Now for the hard part: what to pack for a luxury getaway.
Start by checking the five day weather forecast. We all know weather around the world has become harder and harder to predict, but checking the forecast is another packing prerequisite, lest you will find yourself buying additional clothing for comfort at your destination. I use the weather app on my iPhone before and daily during trips. It lets me know if I need to have a jacket, sun hat or umbrella handy. Next, I go over my itinerary and decide what types of clothing and shoes to include.
Keep in mind the culture and style of the place where I will be traveling when deciding what to pack.
For the North and North East, I tend to dress more conservatively with a pop of color for interest. Casual chic is the theme for West Coast trips. Dresses, cropped pants, sleeveless shells and a stylish jump suit are great for the southern, summer climes.
4 examples of clothing groups that are well suited for specific cultures and climates:
1. Sophisticated Big City (North/Northeastern United States)
Beige and black are the basis for this Big City or North/Northeastern packing ensemble. It includes: two dresses; one sleeveless and the other with three-quarter length sleeves; two pairs of black pants, one dressy and the other, jeans; two tops, one, a long sleeved silk and the other, sleeveless and unstructured; two shells, one black and one sand; a short cropped jacket and a lace button down shirt for evening. Shoe selections include black wedges, black dressy sandals and a pair of beige and black toed flats. Two pashminas, a scarf, a crossbody purse, a sun hat and a stylish backpack complete this grouping which is less than 20 items.
2. Vibrant Big City
For a more vibrant look for a Big City or West Coast trip, a grouping like the one to the right would be recommended. This ensemble includes: one black and white maxi dress with black shrug; two pairs of pants, white jeans and black straight legged pants; two three quarter length sleeved tops, one turquoise with pattern and the other a white unstructured linen; a sleeveless black tunic; and a three quarter length colorful jacket with matching shell. A pair of metal detailed sandals, black dressy loafers and a pair of turquoise silk wedges are the shoe grouping. Three pashminas; solid, print and multi colored; plus a sun hat, cross body purse and stylish backpack finish this set.
3. West Coast
When dressing for the West Coast you need to think comfortable sophistication. This versatile grouping prepares you for many different types of activities and weather changes. One sleeveless, white cotton dress for day or night; two lightweight patterned tunics; two shells, one black and one white; three pairs of pants, black, white and coral; two tops, one a black and white jersey, chevron print and the other, a coral long sleeve blouse; plus, a beautiful white, black and coral patterned jacket, which is well suited for most occasions. The shoe selections chosen are a pair of black lace ballet flats, black wedges and a pair of comfortable, stylish walking sandals. A statement pashmina, a trendy black backpack, a sun hat and a cross body purse finish this collection.
4. The South
Deciding what to wear in steamy, hot southern climates is always challenging, even for a woman like myself who was born and raised in Louisiana. Think loose fitting styles and cuts, clothes that don't cling but are fashionable. This southern grouping begins with a versatile black and white chevron patterned jumpsuit accented with a black shrug; three pairs of pants, one black cropped legged, one peachy beige silk ankle length and a pair of jersey wide legged pants. This grouping also includes: one classic, three quarter length sleeved white shirt and two unstructured tops; plus one black shell, a loose fitting contemporary, summer print dress, which is suitable for most day activities; and a statement jacket complete the set's clothing pieces. An accent coral, colored pashmina and a black and white checked one, as well as, a neutral colored cross body bag, a stylish backpack and a sun hat are the ensemble's accessories. The shoe selections include a pair of white casual flats, black wedges and a pair of chic, strappy sandals.
All of these illustrations have no more than 20 pieces total. Most of the packing sets contain two or more Aerosoles brand, style conscious, comfort constructed shoes. The groupings have black as their base color, and are capable of multiple pairings to fit your mood or dressing needs. While some of the sets might be slightly more diverse than the French dressing philosophy, you should always put a little of your own personality into your travel wardrobe to be confidently dressed for your luxury weekend getaway.
Accordingly, most of the post has focused on clothing and accessory selection but there are a few more tips I would like to share. As previously mentioned, I pack all of my shoes in separate shoe bags. Also, my tech cords and accessories go in a separate zipped bag. For organizing my jewelry, makeup and toiletries, I use a foldable hang up bag with multiple separate zipper sections.
Click here to download my free luxury packing list. By following this checklist, I rarely forget to pack what I need!
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