Tips for Packing Lightly for a Warm Weather Vacation

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“I under-packed for this vacation,” said almost no one ever. 

 I decided to take a vacation to Miami because I needed an escape from the Chicago cold. I was traveling with my friend, Jesse Garza, who owns a wardrobe and luxury consulting company called Visual Therapy, based in New York City (www.visual-therapy.com). I was talking to Jesse a few weeks ago, and he surprised me when he told me that he only travels with a carry-on. He always looks so polished and put-together, and I just figured that he must be the type of guy who brings several checked bags in addition to carry-on. 

Before our trip to Miami, he and I spoke on the phone a little bit about what we each planned to pack and what we would need for the trip. We then continued our conversation about packing, under sunny skies around a pool in Miami, and I discovered that we have very similar views on packing for trips. Essentially, it is all about feeling liberated and enjoying the actual vacation instead of being a slave to your luggage. 

On our Zoom Vacations tours, I see travelers all the time bringing far too much luggage, with items they will never use, even when I send out specific packing lists before that would address the issue of over-packing. I have seen how people’s bags become more of a burden than anything else. You then get home, and even have to wash the things you didn’t wear, because they’ve been shoved in a bag with things that are soiled. The more I travel, the more I realize that having all that extra stuff just isn’t worth the hassle. Plus, when you check a bag, this greatly limits you. It makes it much more difficult if not impossible to standby for earlier flights, and it also can make things tricky if not impossible when you have tight connections. If you have ever had your bag not make it to your destination, two things happen. One: you realize how easy it is to get by with less clothing.  Two: you want to avoid it happening ever again, so packing lightly, and limiting your baggage to just a carry-on is the only way to avoid it. 

On a recent tour, two of our travelers brought two carry-ons, plus two checked bags each, for a weeklong trip.  They then had to pay extra baggage fees during one of the internal flights for the trip. I can’t think of any exceptions, but if you are going on a weeklong trip, and you’re packing two big checked bags, you are packing too much. 

So, some may ask, how do you address the issue of packing, in light of one of the greatest joys of traveling for a lot of people which is shopping.  My suggestion is to pack an empty, thin, LIGHTWEIGHT bag that you can then use for purchases while away. At least this way, you have ease of travel on the way there, and just have to deal with possibly checking a bag on the way home. 

One always wants to look good and sharp wherever you go, and Jesse and I have a few simple rules that certainly aid in our packing. These are great tips for shorter as well as longer trips. 

For starters, if you are trying to not overpack, you want to limit the amount of different colors you bring, and only pack things that look great together. By the way, Jesse says nothing is more chic than black and navy together.  

An area where I see a lot of people mess up in terms of their packing lightly, is packing too many pairs of shoes. Shoes are bulky, heavy, and dirty. And, truthfully, most of the time you’re in settings where people are not noticing your shoes anyway. For me, I would rather have an ease of travel, and not have a heavy bag that I’m swinging around versus bringing five pairs of shoes that often only add subtle changes to the look of an outfit anyway. 

Lastly, and this is pretty obvious, but try to pack clothes that do not wrinkle. I want to spend my vacation relaxing or exploring, not ironing. 

Jesse has cultivated a specific list of clothing and accessories that are perfect for weeklong warm weather destination vacations, and he calls it his travel capsule. 

JESSE’S TRAVEL CAPSULE 

*Black skinny cotton jean. This is a perfect staple that looks good with almost everything. 

*Denim blue jean. Nowadays, you can easily dress these up or down, and the durability is key. 

*Navy T, black T, Gray/neutral T. Well I sometimes will bring T-shirts with a little color, Jesse likes keeping things solid, chic, and neutral. 

*Slip-on shoe that can go day to night. Again, this is all about ease and convenience and not overpacking. Having a great slip on shoe that is as appropriate in daytime as it is in the evening is a great investment, and could be a part of every gay man’s wardrobe

*Sneaker that can do casual too. Another side bar tip that Jesse and I have is to wear this shoe on the plane. As you are traversing through airports, there is often a lot of walking, and you want to be comfortable. 

*flip-flops. Flip-flops or so light and easy that they don’t take up a lot of space nor add to the weight of your bag. 

*Black thin long sleeved knit or light zippered garment that can be worn over the neutral.  Jesse brings this in case it is cold on the plane, and it is also just great to have in the evenings for if it gets cooler wherever you’re going

*Black or navy swimsuit. This is one area where I may slightly veer away from Jesse, because I like to use this opportunity to sport a little color

*Denim or khaki shorts to wear as you explore the town and can also be worn over your swimsuit

*Black and blue navy tank that you can wear out and about or to the gym. Uniglo makes a great one.  You can clean this easily in your hotel room sink, and it will dry immediately

*Don’t laugh, but something that Jesse and I both bring on our trips, is a fanny pack.   However, rather than wearing this around your waist, wear it the across your body, on your chest. This is a great item to have to bring your keys, your phone, wallet, etc. 

*One neutral belt that matches your shoes. This is also something that, given its size, is relatively heavy, and you don’t need to bring more than one

*Favorite sunglasses. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the sun, then we suggest packing a more upscale pair, as well as a sporty pair

*Socks and underwear– count the number of days you will be traveling, and pack this same number

*TSA approved sizes of liquids you need:

 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag. You can get travel size items like this at just about any pharmacy or department store. 

Traveling may not be the best time to bring your most elaborate outfits, and especially not things that she can only wear once, or that don’t mix well with other items. As Jesse says, “You want to make sure that you shine, not your clothes.”

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