Packing time again!

LogoIt’s packing time again! I seem to spend a lot of my life packing and unpacking, but I’m definitely not complaining. The gypsy in me can hardly wait to be on the road again!

This time I’m preparing for six weeks in our 24 foot trailer. Much of our time will be spent exploring remote and wilderness areas, but we also have a wedding to attend. We’ll be travelling in Alberta, BC and the Yukon, so weather will likely be quite variable. Closet space is limited and opportunities to do laundry may be few and far between. So, what do I pack? 

First of all, I need to think about what we’re going to be doing. In addition to the wedding, there will probably be a couple of social evenings out when we’re in urban areas. For those, I’ll need outfits that are dressy casual. Much of our time will be spent hiking, kayaking, and sitting around campfires though. Those are times when comfort is of utmost importance and I’m less concerned about what I look like. We might not have many opportunities to use them, but our golf clubs are going with us, so I also need to pack appropriate golfing attire. Our final week will be spent at our church’s district wide family camp, a time of fun and fellowship where I’ll be doing lots of socializing, attending worship services and listening to speakers. The camp is located in a rustic, forested setting on the banks of Alberta’s Little Red Deer River. I don’t want to be overdressed, but I do want to look well put together.

Fellow fashion blogger, Jennifer Connolly, of A Well Styled Life is also spending an extended period of time in her RV right now and she recently wrote this post which contains some great tips. As she points out, layering is always an important key to coping with varying temperatures. I’ll definitely want to be able to add or subtract layers as the days warm up or cool off. I’ll also be following Jennifer’s advice and packing a variety of accessories. They take up very little space and easily add polish to an outfit when that’s what’s needed.

A change of shoes can also give an outfit a lift. That’s one area where I can indulge myself on a trip like this one. When we fly, the number of pairs of shoes I can take is limited by suitcase space, but when we travel with our SUV and trailer, I can fit in many more! I’ll need dressy shoes for the wedding, of course. I was thinking of wearing heels, but after looking at the venue online, I’m guessing that the ceremony will be held on the lawn. If that’s the case, I’ll want to wear flats. There’s nothing worse than sinking in and feeling like you’re aerating the grass with every step! In either case, I’ll be taking a pair of dressy flats as well as a couple of casual pairs. I’ll also pack my rubber boots, my hiking shoes, my golf shoes, one or two pairs of sandals, and some flip flops.

Hats are another important item. I even bought a couple of new ones for this trip, but perhaps I’ll tell you about those in another post.

For much of the time that we’re away, we’ll be without internet access. In the past, I’ve discovered that even when a campground or RV park advertises that it has wifi, service can be extremely unpredictable. As a result, I don’t expect to be able to post very regularly and Fashion Friday may not appear every week. I’ll do my best to share some travel posts, however, and hopefully I can also do as Jennifer did and share a little of what I wear along the way.

All weather packing

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logoThe geese are back, the gophers have come out of hibernation and tulip sprouts are peeking through the soil in my flower beds. It must be spring, right? Then why is there snow in the forecast? Because I live in Canada, of course!

I’m envious of those who live in warmer climes, the lucky ones who have already done their seasonal wardrobe switch, putting away winter wear and bringing out shorts and sandals. I had to laugh when I saw this on Facebook the other day because it’s all too true!

Spring in Canada

My dilemma right now is how to pack for our upcoming trip to Vancouver. The coast can be beautiful at this time of year with sunshine, daffodils and a profusion of cherry blossoms OR it can be chilly and damp. The forecast seems to indicate a bit of both.

The answer, of course, is layers. There will be at least 3 camisoles in my suitcase; black, white and khaki. They take up almost no room and make a good base layer providing extra warmth when days are cool. They can be worn under almost anything. I’ll pack tops that can be worn alone or layered with one of the camis and/or a light sweater.

Pants are trickier. I don’t go anywhere without jeans, but I’ll definitely throw in a couple of pairs of capris in case the weather is warm enough. Since we’ll be spending most of our time visiting family, I won’t need anything too dressy, but I’ll take a basic pair of black dress pants that could be worn to church or out to dinner.

When it comes to outerwear, layers are once again the key. I’ll take a light waterproof, windproof jacket and a fleece hoodie that can be worn individually or doubled up on colder days. A tiny pair of knit gloves tucked into a pocket, a scarf and a compact foldable umbrella will take me on outdoor adventures with my grandsons on even the rainiest days.

As far as footwear is concerned, I’m glad that we’re driving not flying. Since I can’t decide if I’ll need sandals, sneakers, casual flats, dress shoes or rubber boots, I may just take them all!

Column of colour

logoColumn dressing begins with a solid base in one colour, usually a neutral. It can be either a top with pants or a top with a skirt. Add accessories and a topper and voila!

Here’s an example from my wardrobe. I wore this to church recently.

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I started with my skinny black pants purchased about a year ago at Dynamite and a stretchy high-necked tank top that I’ve had for years. Though I seldom tuck my tops in, this one is a bit on the short side and tends to ride up if I don’t. A narrow black belt with a black and gold buckle helped keep everything in place. To this basic column, I added tall black boots, a grey mix cardigan and simple jewelry in a gold and silver combo.

By simply exchanging one waterfall cardigan for another less structured one in a colourful silky fabric and the boots for a pair of black pumps, I was ready for a date night with my hubby. We started the evening with dinner at a new restaurant and then went dancing.

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Here’s a third look built on the exact same basic column. This time I styled it with a bright red leather jacket that’s on loan from my sister-in-law, Sue, who thinks I need to add more colour to my wardrobe. For the purpose of this post, I wore the same jewelry for all three photos, but imagine how I could create many different looks by changing my accessories.

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Though it would be boring to dress this way all the time, there are many advantages to creating a column. First of all, it’s easy and who doesn’t like easy? Even better, it’s cost effective. The basic pieces of a column can be worn over and over again in so many different ways making them excellent investment pieces. It creates a long, lean look which is highly sought after by many women and it makes packing, especially for business travel, a dream. Depending on the length of the trip, one or two basic columns with several toppers and a mix of interesting accessories might be all you need!

Packing light

logoLong before airlines started charging for checked baggage, Richard and I carried less luggage than most travellers. On our recent 17 day trip to Nova Scotia, we shared one large suitcase. Our carry-ons included a backpack which doubled as a day pack when we went hiking, my computer bag and my purse.

The first questions to ask yourself when packing for any trip include: Where am I going? What kind of weather will I likely encounter? and What is the purpose of my trip?

Average daytime temperatures in Nova Scotia in October tend to be mild, ranging between 12 and 15ºC (54 to 58ºF) while nights are cool, between 3 and 9ºC (38 to 48ºF). Though we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary the first weekend we were there and planned to  dine at one of Halifax’s finest restaurants, most of our vacation would be spent visiting friends, sightseeing and hiking. We packed accordingly.

So, what was in my half of that one large suitcase?

  • 8 tops – 2 long sleeved, 4 three quarter sleeved, 2 short sleeved – mostly neutral colours – most were casual, but if you look closely you’ll see my black lace and my animal print, both suitable for dressier occasions

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  • 5 pairs of pants – 2 blue jeans, 1 green jeans, 1 lightweight khaki pants and one black dress pants

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Just think of all the combinations that could be created with those 13 items! To these basics, I added

  • 1 cardigan that could coordinate with many of the items shown above
  • 3 camis for layering – 1 black, 1 white, 1 khaki
  • 1 dress for that special anniversary dinner
  • 12 panties and 12 pairs of socks – I didn’t actually need that many, but I wasn’t sure exactly when we’d have access to laundry facilities (we did laundry once on the trip)
  • 3 bras – those I wash by hand so 2 really would have been enough
  • 2 pantyhose and 2 knee high hose – again, more than I needed, but they don’t take up any space and I like to have extras in case I snag them
  • 4 pairs of pyjamas
  • 1 skimpy negligee – it was our anniversary, after all!
  • 1 short, very lightweight kimono
  • 1 pair of cozy slipper socks
  • 1 swimsuit which didn’t come out of the suitcase, but I rarely travel without one
  • 1 ball cap for hiking and walking in the sun

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  • 1 toque which I didn’t actually wear until we arrived back in snowy Alberta
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 hoodie and 1 lightweight jacket that could be worn individually or layered for extra warmth

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  • 3 pairs of shoes –  I wore my Merrell walking/hiking shoes on the plane and the other 2 pairs fit into the outside pocket of our suitcase along with Richard’s dress shoes – I always stuff socks or other small items inside shoes when I pack them to save space and to help them keep their shape.

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This list actually includes what I wore as well as the change of clothes that was in the backpack in case our suitcase didn’t make it to our destination at the same time as we did. In addition to clothing, my side of the suitcase also contained toiletries, makeup, medications, sunscreen, jewelry (packed in a hard shell eyeglass case), a travel size blow dryer, a straightening iron and a travel alarm clock.

What about you? Do you travel light? What can’t you leave home without?

Dressing up

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One evening while we were in Vancouver this week, we went out for an elegant dinner with my father. We ate at Hart House Restaurant in Burnaby’s Deer Lake Park, just a few minutes from the assisted living facility where my 93-year-old father resides. The restaurant opened in 1988 in the beautiful century old Tudor-style house that was originally home to New Westminster businessman Frederick Hart. We dined in the sunroom overlooking nearby Deer Lake. The food was outstanding and the service warm and friendly.

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I seldom wear dresses, but this was an occasion and setting that seemed to warrant dressing up a bit more than usual.

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This simple dress, consisting of navy lace over a nude underlay, is a couple of years old, but still a favourite and very much on-trend. It’s also a perfect traveler. How well a garment packs in a suitcase is an important consideration for me and this dress is a winner in that department. It takes up very little space, weighs almost nothing and doesn’t wrinkle.

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The colourful totem pole stands outside the building where my father lives.

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Packing again!

If you’ve been reading my blog since we embarked on this adventure, you’ll probably remember that I wrote an entire series about packing back in February. Though I’m getting tired of my limited wardrobe choices, I’m happier than ever that we chose to bring as little as we did to China with us.

We like to travel light. We had originally hoped to leave the bulk of our luggage in Beijing while we travel through China then pick it up and fly home to Canada from there but as we began to plan our trip we realized that that wasn’t going to be an efficient use of time or money. Since we’re going to be picked up and have a driver at each destination along the way, hauling our luggage isn’t going to be as cumbersome as it would be if we had to handle it on our own but the checked baggage limit for each passenger on domestic flights in China is one piece weighing a maximum of 44 pounds. There are also rules pertaining to carry-on baggage but thankfully, the airlines are not strict about enforcing them and ours are likely to be heavier than they’re supposed to be!

Fortunately, though we’ve picked up a few mementoes and been given a few gifts, we were careful not to buy too much while we were here. Donating several of the books that we brought with us to the staff library at school and using up most of the medications and toiletries has given us space and weight for the few extra items that we’ll be taking home with us.

In addition to making sure that we meet the weight requirements, there are other challenges to packing at this end of the journey. Being somewhat anal, I like to be packed well in advance of any departure. At home, that’s easy to accomplish. Once the suitcases are packed, we simply wear clothing that we’re not taking with us. That leaves only a few last minute items to add to the suitcases just before we leave. That doesn’t work when everything you have is going with you though! I am planning on leaving a few badly worn items of clothing behind including a pair of pyjamas. Though it isn’t uncommon here to see adults walking the streets in what are obviously pyjamas, I’m not about to join them! No, a lot of our packing has to be done at the last minute this time. One suitcase is already fully packed with our winter wardrobe and other items that we won’t likely need as we travel but I won’t be able to finish packing the other one or the carry-ons until the morning we leave.

If we were flying straight home from here, I wouldn’t care if the suitcases were full of dirty laundry. In fact, they probably would be but since we’re going to be travelling for a couple of weeks, I want everything to be clean when we leave. Again, that’s more difficult to accomplish than it would be at home in Canada because we don’t have a clothes dryer here. I can’t do a load or two of laundry at the last minute unless I want to travel with wet clothes and just think what that would do to the weight of things!

Because we don’t have enough of the basics to last for the entire trip, I will have to do some hand washing in hotel sinks along the way but that’s not a problem. In fact, that’s one of the tricks to travelling light on any trip.

Packing 105: To fold or to roll, that is the question

Though some people roll their clothing to pack it in a suitcase claiming that it takes up less space and doesn’t wrinkle as much, I prefer to fold most of ours.

I learned to fold and pack from a master. When I was a child my father spent several years commuting between Powell River and Vancouver almost every week. Every week my mother did his laundry, starched and pressed his dress shirts and repacked his suitcase. I remember watching her with fascination. She could fold a shirt so that it looked like it had just come out of it’s original package.

Every summer, our family of six would pile into the big blue and white International Travelall and set off on a camping adventure that often lasted several weeks. Mom would pack everything we needed into the back of the vehicle. There was no such thing as a nylon tent in those days but she could fit the bulky canvas tent, six sleeping bags, foam sleeping mats, the Coleman stove, dishes, food, clothes, life jackets and fishing gear and a multitude of other things into the space behind the back seat.

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One summer we chartered a float plane and flew into Garibaldi Lake nestled high in the coastal mountains. Mom had to weigh every single item that went on that trip to make sure that we didn’t exceed the plane’s weight limit. Yes, she was definitely a packing wizard!

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But I digress! Though I fold the majority of our clothing, I often roll things like pyjamas to fit into small unused spaces between other items. On our upcoming trip to China, I’m also going to try a packing technique that I’ve never used before. By packing bulky items in ziploc bags and squeezing the air out before sealing them, they’ll take up much less room in a suitcase. Richard’s navy blue fleece hoodie is two sizes larger than my red one but look at how much less space it needs.

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And before I bring this packing series to an end, here’s one last tip: It’s amazing how much you can pack inside the shoes that go into your suitcase. Stuff them full of socks, underwear, pantyhose, pill bottles, anything that will fit!

Do you fold or roll?

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