Packing light, pretty, comfortable: Having it all!

I’m obsessed with packing lists.  I can be scatterbrained and I hate the feeling that I’ve forgotten something.  So I often review bloggers packing lists to compare against my own, looking for tips and ideas on packing even better than I already am.

But my packing lists change depending on circumstances:

  • Purpose.  Work travel requires that I maintain a professional appearance; leisure travel offers more wardrobe flexibility.
  • Weather.  Cold weather locations requires more layers while warm weather locations requires more sunscreen!
  • Length of trip.  My luggage usually looks very different if it’s a weekend trip versus a one-month trip!
  • Length of journey.  For longer flights (especially in economy), I pack more “comfort” items to make the plane ride tolerable (eye mask, travel pillow, noise-cancelling headphones).

But I always start with the same set of requirements:

  1. Pack light.  This isn’t about keeping a light footprint in the world or any crap like that.  This is about my personal pride: I pack lightly enough that I can handle my own stuff.  I’m not a person who needs assistance getting my stuff into the overhead compartment onboard a plane.  One life goal is to NEVER be that person!
  2. Pack pretty. This means different things to different people.  I don’t wear makeup and I’m not picky about toiletries, so that’s not what I mean by “pretty.”  I mean that some clothes look good on me and make me feel good while other clothes do not flatter my figure and make me feel frumpy.  Life is too short to feel frumpy.  I’m always on the lookout for clothes that travel well and yet are still pretty.
  3. Pack comfortable.  Looks aren’t everything!  I want to be comfortable: in my clothes, on the plane, while working, while sightseeing.  I don’t mean packing for every possible occasion, but I do mean that I want to be comfortable in whatever environment I plan on being in.
    • Sometimes that means warm, stretchy clothes in the winter.
    • Sometimes that means the right accessories to go with the little black dress at the Michelin-starred restaurant.
    • Sometimes that means a great pair of shoes that I can walk in for miles.
    • Sometimes that means the perfect travel pillow so that I can get some sleep on the plane.

Most travel blogs seem to suggest that travelers must pick two of these three criteria or fail to even consider the pretty/attractive one.  (Then again, most travel blogs are written by men who don’t seem to care what they look like on the road!)  Some are ruthlessly focused on packing light, to the exclusion of any other possible considerations.

One site I found (which I otherwise like quite a bit!) went so far as to say “Thou shalt not pack any clothes that don’t fit these parameters: cost = free or under $5 and/or age = five or more years of use.”  Her reasoning: you should be willing to lose/ruin/trade the clothes and caring too much about clothes is a source of stress.  Now, to be fair, this is her “long-term” travel rule and the longest I’ve ever traveled is the month in Burgundy.  But even so, I can’t imagine ever wanting to follow this rule!  I like my clothes!  I mean, I really like my clothes!  To the point that I’ve spend the past couple of years KonMari-ing my clothes and paring them down to just the clothes that spark joy!

(As an aside, I also have a problem with “disposable” clothes and the environmental impact of such a mindset.  But “free” and cheap clothes are a different problem that belongs in another blog post.)

But I want it all: light, pretty, comfortable.  And so I’m obsessed with striking the right balance among these variables.  The next few posts will be about how that changes under different circumstances.

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