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Jeans and Cargo PantsI love to travel in cargo pants -- those deep pockets are so handy for tickets, boarding passes, passports, even some easy-to-reach cash. My only gripe is that women's cargo pants have pockets that are just a bit too small. Denim is a rugged fabric that I find I can dress up or down.
Versatile ClothesWhether or not I'm told in advance there's a dress-up evening, I always take something with me. Surprises happen. Regularly. The key here is the fabric. It has to be light and thrive on being rolled up into a tiny space. My favorite is a combination of polyester or acetate and spandex. The spandex seems to help it hold its shape and the polyester/acetate makes for a silky fabric that can be folded and rolled.
My technique for finding these dresses, pants, and tops is to walk down the aisle of the department store and get the feel of the fabric. Then, I firmly squeeze a corner and release. If there's any sign of wrinkling, I move on. It certainly won't survive 12 hours crushed into a suitcase.
I have a lovely dress I bought from a local store (in black, of course) that I have literally folded into a square and stuffed into a sandwich bag. And, yes, it was just fine when I shook it out to wear hours later. Why black? Black becomes invisible.
Where to Buy Travel ClothesThere's another tactic that works even better for finding appropriate travel clothes -- purchase clothing produced for travelers. Chico's has a wonderful line called Travelers that I had the pleasure of testing. The 95% acetate 5% spandex tank top is made of a rib knit with a scoop neck. I paired it with slinky pants to go with me on a marathon central Europe trip. In my favorite travel color -- basic black --they formed the cornerstone of my dress up clothes. They rolled up into tight cylinders, and were ready to wear, creaseless, with just a shake. And while I didn't like the name, I did love the elastic waist, especially after a few days of serious eating.
Another source for travel-friendly clothing is Magellan's. This company has a well-deserved reputation for all kinds of travel necessities. They have a complete line of clothes for all and any occasions. I've been testing two of their jackets and loving them.
OuterwearThis part of packing has got to be the trickiest. Heavy jackets and bulky sweaters take up room in suitcases, or have to be dragged around on and off planes and while traveling from one place to another. The rule of layering clothes helps, as does having the right outerwear.
One important characteristic for me is that it needs to be water resistant having a hood would be a plus. I can't stop a trip because of bad weather. It also has to be able to handle abuse.
If I were planning to travel in late fall or early winter, I might opt for a marine type jacket with a water-resistant outer layer and a fleecy inner layer.
ShawlI finish up with a lightweight cashmere/pashmina and silk wrap that enables me to vary the look of my clothes just a bit, and provide some warmth if needed. I can't say that they thrive on abuse since my wraps are the only item I do pack carefully. But they are elegant and worth the extra bit of space.
But the problem I've had with shawls is that they are always slipping off my shoulders. As much as I love draping them dramatically around my neck, or tying them in clever ways, I really wanted something that wouldn't slip all the time.
When I travel I'm generally gone from the cool of the morning through the heat of the afternoon, and sometimes back into the cool of the evening. Usually I drag a sweater or jacket which I then have to stuff into my bag and it's rarely an attractively style jacket... because I know I'll be stuffing it into and taking it out of that bag. It's going to get dragged around a lot.
But the Pocket Poppet's own case meant I could take it out, give it a shake and wear a quite nicely style sweater (or as they call it -- the Cardigan on the Go! TM).
ShoesThe one area that has always been a problem for me is footwear. I need a pair of nice shoes to go with those nice pants and dresses. I need comfortable footwear for the serious walking. Usually I buy several pairs of shoes that look and feel like good candidates and then try them out at the gym. A mile on the treadmill at over 3 miles per hour lets me know if I've got a travel walking winner, or another pair of shoes to wear for daily life. I've even been known to drag my hiking boots for handling tricky terrain.
HatsI always take a hat with me to protect from the sun. While a baseball type cap works quite fine, I do have a canvas hat - similar to a Tilly bucket hat with a full brim all around, mesh air holes and leather wind cord. I bought it at a local hat store. For cold weather I have a pull-down-over-my-ears cap that is dense and warm. I love it.
Carry AllsI have a few must-haves when I travel. At the top of my list is a lightweight sturdy carryall that's easy on my back. Actually, until I found the Sling Pack by Lewis N Clarke that was more on my wish list. But now that it's here and real I won't travel without it.
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