I’m back with the second part of the Travel Q&A (you can read Part 1 here). Writing these Travel Tip posts were a doozy, so I decided to split them up. Today I’m addressing the questions I received most….packing!
7) How do you pack all those outfits? How do you plan what to take? Help me pack!
When hopping on and off trains, going up and down stairs, and hauling your luggage from city to city, you certainly don’t want anything large and cumbersome. And since we travel budget (i.e. no one is hauling it for us), we travel light. Which means we take one small rolling suitcase each, plus I carry a small cross-body purse and Mr. Sugarplum has a small backpack. The backpack serves as our carry-on during the flight, then becomes a day pack once we arrive.
As far as deciding what to pack, I make sure each item can be mixed with at least two others to create multiple looks. Here’s what I packed for our latest 9-day trip:
We had a big fluctuation in temperatures, so layering is key! The day bicycled in the Belgian countryside was really chilly, so I wore a tank, a tee, a long sleeve and a jacket. And a scarf wrapped around my face and head. Cute. But much more efficient than hauling a large coat I would have only worn once. (Of course if you’re traveling in the dead of winter, or to Alaska, you need a coat. But carry it on the plane instead of using valuable space in your suitcase.)
c: Filler Pieces
1 skirt, 1 sundress
1 black yoga pant, 1 full length jean, 1 cropped jean, 1 white jean
1 black fitted, 1 lightweight all-weather
1 gray chunky, 1 feather weight pink
Another part of budget traveling means we don’t go out for fancy dinners, so I didn’t have to consider ‘evening’ clothes. I just threw on a fitted jacket, big earrings and a scarf for a more pulled together look.
1 flat boot, 1 flat sandal, 1 sporty shoe (gel inserts are genius!)
assorted scarves, coordinating statement jewelry
You know you’ve packed well when you wear everything in your suitcase twice, and you feel like burning it all when you get home!
Travel Tip: Layer dryer sheets throughout your suitcase to keep things smelling fresh.
7) What do you like to wear and take on the airplane?
Well, since we certainly aren’t flying First Class, it’s up to us to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. I wear black yoga pants and a white tee for the long plane rides, but I add a cozy cardigan and bright scarf to give it more style. The cardigan can be removed if the cabin gets too warm, and the scarf acts as a pillow or to shield your face when attempting to sleep. I also change into extra plush slipper-socks so I can curl up easier.
In the carry-on backpack: Comfy socks, chapstick, gum, ear plugs, ipod, hand sanitizer, moisturizer, magazines, comb
Travel Tip: Order at least two waters every time the flight attendants are passing out drinks. Dehydration is not cute, and doesn’t help with jet-lag either.
8) How do you deal with jet-lag?
Most European flights leave the US in the evening and arrive early the next morning, when your body thinks it’s 2am. Awesome. As soon as dinner service is complete, I change into my comfy socks, put in my ear plugs and try to get some sleep. We’ve tried Ambian on one flight, but let’s just say neither of us remembers the connecting flight in London. I took half of a melatonin this last time and that was a little easier to manage.
It seems right when I finally fall asleep, it’s time for breakfast. Guzzle water, pop some minty gum, slap moisturizer on your face and hands and comb your hair so you don’t feel like you were just drug out of bed….and don’t think ‘Wow, it’s really the middle of the night for me!’ From that point on, you are in the new time zone. What works best for us is to head straight for the hotel and pray your room is ready. Then take a two hour nap, shower and head out. The rest of the trip we keep to their clock. Same goes for coming home, switch back to the local time zone, regardless of what your body tells you. If you sleep all day, you’re only prolonging the inevitable crash.
Travel Tip: Small afternoon cat naps during your trip can make a world of difference, and give you the boost you need.
9) Did you eat a ton of pain au chocolats?
Yes! And crepes and waffles and fries and wine. All of it. It’s vacation! I can have salad at home, so I don’t think twice about indulging in all the local cuisines. Food is part of the whole experience for us. I just deal with the
gut aftermath when I get back home.
10) How many nights did you stay in each city?
Paris – 2 nights; Brugges – 3 nights; Brussels – 2 nights. Anything less than 2 nights isn’t worth the effort and expense of getting there. See this post for the full itinerary.
12) Can I come with you next time?
I’d like to say yes, but for now, our trips without the kids are like Prozac for our marriage. It is our time to be completely selfish, drop the f-bomb as many times as possible, and pretend we’re the only people in the world. I highly recommend it! Our kids will grow up and leave us someday, I’d like to still know and enjoy Mr. Sugarplum at that point.