Looking back, I've always enjoyed dressing for the occasion, even on trips. When I was fourteen, I asked my parents to take me to the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego as my birthday present. I packed several hats and every piece of vintage clothing I owned into my 1960's Samsonite because to me, that hotel meant Old Hollywood. I was very proud of my outfits and had my mom take several pictures of me in the same spot Marilyn stood while filming Some Like It Hot. I insisted on taking bubble baths each night, and even as a youngster, enjoyed ordering tea service in the ocean view bar, with all of its dark wood and well-dressed waiters.
Now let's fast forward a few years to 2011 and my trip to the Florida theme parks. Looking at the pictures from that vacation now, I see that I sacrificed any shred of fashion for comfort. Long white shorts that make me look about four feet tall? Check. Turquoise running shoes with ankle socks? Check. I was so focused on the heat and humidity factor that I forgot about the many humiliating photos that would result. I also knew I would only be seen by my parents.
So as I move forward, I've decided to follow these five self-imposed guidelines for traveling. No more horrid pictures for the scrapbooks!
- Accessorize! I think this is the most important element, because packing multiple outfits per day may not be possible with luggage size restraints. Scarves, jewelry, and shoes don't take up too much space and can really alter a basic outfit for day to night changes. I once took six pairs of shoes to Vegas for a weekend trip. Luckily, the two girls I stayed with also packed the same amount, so I felt very validated.
- Choose a "look" and build a palette from it. I realized that subconsciously I usually pack with a sort of costume in mind that (romantically) suits the destination. A hotel with a sparkling pool requires espadrilles and a large sun hat a la 1940's pin-ups. Bustling city like New York? I'd go part Holly Golightly, part Debbie Harry, and - let's not act like we don't love her - part Carrie Bradshaw. A trip to Paris would require some well-cropped black pants, bateau necklines, ballet flats, and a great pair of oversized sunglasses. And I usually like to stick to basic colors for the clothes. Black for cities, colors for the sea (that sounds incredibly pretentious).
- Enjoy your hotel time too! Often people look at the hotel as a place to sleep, and that's it. I feel quite differently. I love hotels and prefer to stay in places with some personality because of it. Pack beauty products that make you feel good, bring a pretty nightgown, and buy a candle in the gift shop to light while getting ready. I'm also a fan of packing a kimono. No one outside will see it, but it really glamorizes the experience!
- Take a chill pill. I've been on many trips with break-neck schedules (get on the tour bus, get off the tour bus) and although you see everything, you never get to really enjoy the culture and people watching. I'm a big fan of relaxing on vacations, though apparently this is a very un-American attitude! And by the way, I will never EVER ask a concierge if the hotel has a gym. What a waste of time! Which brings me to my final point . . .
- Eat as much as possible without feeling sick. I know this sounds a bit overindulgent, but I'm on vacation and I'm not worrying about my waistline. Because that is work, and I am not at work. Granted, I don't want to stuff myself to the point of gluttony, but I feel no need to skip any meal or snacking opportunity, especially in cities known for their cuisine. You better believe that I'll stop at every single creperie I see in France!