Month: May 2015

Traveling Fashionably – Dressing Smart by Packing Smart

As many of you know, despite having a travel blog I am not a global nomad. I often feel like a rare beast in the field of travel blogging (a unicorn on the grassy tundra, if you will), since I have a busy full-time job as a Media Manager on a global beauty brand in NYC. Due to this fact, I typically consume my travel content in my spare time while eating breakfast or during my commutes.

Having said that, I had a meeting yesterday with our ad sales rep at Allure magazine who handed me a copy of the latest June issue. As I flipped through the pages in an attempt to find the Reader’s Choice beauty product winners that I was seeking, I stumbled upon a beautiful image of supermodel Linda Evangelista during a trip to China in the 90’s that instantly inspired me.

Allure's caption on the photo says, "Linda Evangelista in Shanghai in 1993, photographed by Arthur Elgort"

Allure’s caption on the photo says, “Linda Evangelista in Shanghai in 1993, photographed by Arthur Elgort”

As one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers Jennifer L. Scott pointed out recently in one of her latest video blogs, the sense of pride in looking one’s best and putting effort into one’s appearance has been disappearing in American society. She politely and elegantly encourages her followers to “reject the sloppiness of our current culture and to put thought in how you present yourself and what you wear.” Many other cultures do this on a daily basis, so dressing well while you travel will help you fit in with the locals. For example, I have heard my European friends joke that the fastest way to spot American tourists is to look for people wearing North Face fleeces, jeans, and sneakers on the streets.

With that said, my personal opinion is that you do not need to sacrifice a classy and respectable appearance while you travel – even if you’re only taking a carry-on. In the photo that inspired me, Linda is wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and white trainers while riding her bicycle through busy Chinese streets. By choosing a soft white monochromatic color scheme, her practical and comfort-seeking outfit choice instantly turned her look from dowdy to debonair.

While we are not all supermodels (at 5’1” I certainly am not), it is still important to shop for traveling clothes with a discerning eye so you can look smart while staying practical. The questions I typically ask myself when shopping for vacation garb are:

  • Is it comfortable enough that I’d want to wear it all day (or multiple days)?
  • What purpose does the piece serve?
    • This question is the most important, of course. If you’re going on a hiking trip to a remote mountain range, you probably don’t need to bring a linen blazer.
  • Can I wash it fairly easily?
  • Does it wrinkle too easily?
  • How many outfit combinations can I make with it?
  • Will I look stylish enough that I will fit in with well-dressed locals?
  • How easily could the outfit go from day to night?
  • Would airlines or hotels be willing to give me an upgrade if I’m wearing this outfit?
    • I don’t typically get upgraded, but I know that I’m much less likely to be if I’m wearing my college hoodie.
  • Will I look presentable in photographs?
    • Aka – would I be embarrassed by what I’m wearing if I’m showing the photos to my grandkids in 50 years?

Moral of the story is that if you pack smart, you can still look smart – in both definitions of the word. Just like Linda Evangelista. From taking a hike to taking afternoon tea, you can look both stylish and intelligent while you travel if you put thought behind your packing decisions.

San Francisco Trip In Review: Day #1 in Downtown SF

Having watched three movies on the plane, we landed in SF around 10:30am. As soon as we touched down we realized immediately how tired we were. We had taken Delta’s 7am flight out of New York, and our four hours of sleep the night before was already catching up with us. The time difference is REAL, folks!

Selfie on the plane! (I'd say Derek is pretty good at fake sleeping)

Selfie on the plane! (I’d say Derek is pretty good at fake sleeping)

As soon as we got through the airport, we summoned a car to take us to our hotel using our Uber app (how totally San Francisco of us). We were so grateful that a room was available when we checked in that we were more than happy to pay the small surcharge for a slightly upgraded room with an outdoor deck. It had been a long journey, and my head was on the pillow less than thirty seconds after opening the door to the room.

Lobby at the Hilton Union Square where we stayed

Lobby at the Hilton Union Square where we stayed

When I woke up a couple hours later, my boyfriend Derek had already started exploring the downtown area (Tenderloin and Union Square neighborhoods) and had grabbed us some lunch to eat in the room. After I gobbled down the food and took a quick shower, I finally felt refreshed enough to venture out to begin our sightseeing.

The first thing we did was hail a cab to take us to Ghirardelli Square. (Chocolate!…my priorities)

Archway entrance at Ghirardelli Square

Archway entrance at Ghirardelli Square

Picking out some chocolate in the shop

Picking out some chocolate in the shop

View of the Ghirardelli sign from the middle of the square

View of the Ghirardelli sign from the middle of the square

After we meandered through the Ghirardelli store and bought a few sweets, we started walking along the shoreline of the bay. Some of the clouds we had seen earlier in the day had dissipated and the sun was glistening on the water in the Bay as we took our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge – gorgeous!

Next, we strolled along the docks from Fisherman’s Wharf, stopping to take photos when we liked the views.

Posing with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background

Posing with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background

DSC06952

DSC06930

The walk was a perfect introduction to the city for Derek, who had never been to San Francisco before. We even stopped to film the below video of the bakers making the famous Sourdough bread at Boudin bakery. As I mention in the video, to this day they are still using parts of the original “mother dough” from 1849!

Once we reached the intersection of Battery and Embarcadero, we headed inland to meet my childhood friend Rachel for an early dinner – or what we thought would be an early dinner.

Derek checking out the menu at Tadich Grill - the oldest restaurant in San Francisco

Derek checking out the menu at Tadich Grill – the oldest restaurant in San Francisco

Rachel had suggested we go to the oldest restaurant in the city, Tadich Grill, which does not accept reservations. Even though we got there at six, the place was already packed! Since Rachel was running a little late from work, Derek and I enjoyed drinks at the bar as we waited. The staff was exceedingly friendly, and the food was worth the wait! Between the three of us we ordered some incredibly fresh and delicious sea food plates. How totally San Francisco of us.

Me and Rachel waiting for our food to arrive at Tadich Grill

Me and Rachel waiting for our food to arrive at Tadich Grill

After dinner, Rachel guided us to a hands-on science museum on the Embarcadero (the street that runs along the water) called the Exploratorium, which stays open late on Thursday nights for adult-admission only. In essence, the museum lets you act like a kid again and explore the exhibits – this time with a glass of wine in hand. Who could ask for more?!

Optical illusion at the Exploratorium - columns that look like there are people talking between them

Optical illusion at the Exploratorium – columns that look like there are people talking between them

To be honest, though, as we walked around the Exploratorium that evening it was easy to notice the amount of highly intelligent techies and scientists that reside in the city. SF is known to attract top talent in those fields, and I think our group stood out a bit with our three collective business degrees. But oh well! We still had a blast playing around!

Later, as we took a cab back to our hotel that evening, I remember how eager I was to continue exploring the city the following day. There was so much more to see!

In my next blog entry, I’ll continue to reflect on what we did/saw the subsequent days of our trip, which exposed more of the “real” San Francisco. It gets a little grittier, so stay tuned!

How To Pack For A Vacation In San Francisco and Sonoma In Just Two Carry-On’s

“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”
“San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie

I’ve been humming the soft melody of this famous song as I pack my carry-on today for my upcoming trip to San Francisco.

Problem: I don’t own any flowers to put in my hair. #NotAHippie

As a teenager, I watched the Forrest Gump movie several times and owned the soundtrack – both of which featured this song. To me, this classic tune befits the free-spirited history of the city of San Francisco, and reminds me of the open-minded nature of its residents. Similar to New York City’s history, San Francisco was built by dreamers.

Chinatown in SF with trolley going down the street

Chinatown in SF with trolley going down the street

As you read in last week’s blog post, I’ve planned several types of activities for my upcoming vacation. I’ll admit I am by no means an expert on packing for San Fran in the springtime since the only other time I’ve been was in December. That said, I’m going to take you all along for the ride as I piece together my SF springtime wardrobe and other travel essentials.

The first thing I did was check the weather to understand how many layers I would need each day. The difficult aspect is that I will be in the city of San Francisco for two-thirds of the trip, where the highs are estimated to be in the low 60’s next weekend. However, on Saturday and Sunday I will be in Sonoma County where the highs will be 15 degrees warmer in the upper 70’s!

As a result, I need to pack both dresses AND jeans – major bummer when it comes to saving space. On top of that, the expected temperature variance means that I’ll need to bring BOTH sandals and closed-toed walking shoes, along with a pair of nice shoes for fancier restaurants. Three pairs of shoes – eeeeek! Thank god Derek’s brother miraculously has a hair dryer at his apartment so I don’t need to bring my own!

Anyway, without further ado, here’s how I’ve packed for SF in two carry-on’s.

SF Packing List:

In the backpack:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Camera (with case, charger and memory cards)
  • Cell phones and chargers (work and personal phone)
  • California guidebook
  • (2) magazines
  • Eyemask
  • Day purse (with wallet, travel medicine kit, headphones, pens, house keys, mints, mini hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Small empty water bottle
  • (1) pair of sunglasses
  • Hotel reservation print-outs

In the roller duffle:

These are all of the things that I am packing in my roller duffle (top left corner)

These are all of the things that I am packing in my roller duffle (top left corner)

  • (2) toiletries bags
    • (1) for liquids
    • (1) for non-liquids

      Unpacked toiletries bags

      Unpacked toiletries bags

packing 7

Packed toiletries bags

  • (1) umbrella
  • (1) bag of instant coffee and oatmeals for the mornings
  • (2) leather belts
  • (2) pairs of jeans
  • (1) pair of shorts
  • (1) black skinny stretchy fabric pants – wearing on the plane
  • (1) wool jacket – wearing on the plane
  • (1) canvas jacket
  • (1) black cardigan sweater
  • (1) blue linen blazer
  • (1) light weight zip up sweatshirt
  • (2) good quality cotton tshirts
  • (2) ¾ sleeve blouses – wearing one on the plane
  • (2) sleeveless blouses
  • (2) dresses
  • (2) black cami’s – wearing one on the plane
  • (1) tshirt for sleeping
  • (1) pair of cotton capris for sleeping
  • (8) pairs of underwear
  • (1) strapless bra
  • (1) regular bra
  • (6) pairs of socks
  • (1) pair of black waterproof ankle boots – wearing on the plane
  • (1) pair of fashionable sneakers
  • (1) pair of black strappy sandals
  • (1) hair straightener
  • (1) set of earplugs
  • (1) makeup bag

    My makeup bag (I love cosmetics)

    My makeup bag (I love cosmetics)

  • (1) small bag of jewelry and hair accessories
  • (1) evening purse
  • (1) daytime cross-body bag
  • (2) lingerie bags for dirty clothes separation

Just like with my packing guides for Europe and Florida, I’ve been able to pare down my packing list to just the essentials that I know I will need, plus one or two extra outfits – just in case. (I mean…I’m AM a girl!)

packing 1

Everything is packed and ready to go!

Took a little effort, but the duffle bag zipped all the way closed

It took a LITTLE effort, but the duffle bag zipped all the way closed

Because I focused on the essentials, I don’t expect to have to buy anything extra on this trip. As you saw last week, this trip is going to be pretty expensive despite only being gone for six days, so the less things I need to pick up in SF, the better.

To close, I have to be honest with you: my boyfriend and I will probably ship home a few cases of wine to our apartment as Sonoma County souvenirs. But…I mean…it’s not like I’d ever pack numerous bottles of wine in my carry-on anyway so…no harm no foul for this packing post!