packing tips

Five Things NOT To Take To A Lakehouse Weekend

As many of you already know, I’m from the Midwest. It’s that little region of the United States where recreational lakes are a dime a dozen. That’s why to me and millions of other Midwesterners, lakehouse weekends have become a symbol of summertime.

With that in mind, I’ve developed some sage wisdom over the years about the difference between what people think they should take to lakehouses vs. what they really should take. Fashion companies and pop culture can steer you wrong, so there are a few key items where I want to set the record straight:

What you should NOT take to the lake:

1.  White jeans

I recently bought a pair of white skinny jeans from Boden that are PERFECT for summer. They’re high quality and really trendy right now. Despite that, I will NOT be taking them to the lake this weekend. Why? They will get dirty. A few examples of lakehouse activities not friendly to my new jeans: squeezing ketchup on a freshly grilled burger, sitting around a fire pit with marshmallows in hand, sitting on a dock looking at the lake, sitting on a chair on the deck… really just sitting anywhere in an outdoorsy environment. Whatever the case, they will inevitably get stained on the first day I wear them and then will be out of commission the rest of the weekend. And even if they don’t get dirty, they will somehow get wet and become see-through (I mean, why else am I at the lake?). Therefore, I’m leaving them at home.

I hope she's not sitting in a puddle! (image source:

I hope she’s not sitting in a puddle! (image source:

2.  Chunky Knit or Cashmere Sweaters

As much as you may want your lakehouse attire to look like you just walked out of a J. Crew photo shoot in Kennebunkport (I really, really do), the lake is not a New England yacht excursion (womp womp). If you feel that bringing a sweatshirt isn’t fashionable enough and you want to replace it with a brightly colored cable-knit cardigan in order to look stylish, just recall how long it takes that cable knit to dry if it gets wet. You’re at a lake doing water sports, so there is a strong chance that will happen. Thus, next time you feel like dressing like an Irish fisherman, remember all those lads have probably switched to American Apparel zip ups these days.

"We won't tip the canoe, we promise!"

“We won’t tip the canoe, we promise!” (image source:

3.  Sperry Topsiders

“What? But I’m going to be on a boat!” That’s true, but it’s summertime so you probably want to wear flip flops instead. Every time I’ve brought my Sperry’s to the lake I’ve regretted it because I end up wearing my J. Crew Havianas all day – they dry so much faster and show off my pedicure!

"Hey guys! I'm ready to water ski!" (image source:

“Hey guys! I’m ready to water ski!” (image source:

4.  Sunscreen lower than SPF 20

Okay, I’m really guilty of this. In the past when I’ve brought SPF 8 and 15 to the lake I’ve either a.) burned because the sun is twice as strong on the water OR b.) reapplied every twenty minutes out of fear of burning. I think this year I’ve learned my lesson that higher SPF means fewer applications….but we’ll see.

Don't you just love the smell of Coppertone in the summer?

Don’t you just love the smell of Coppertone in the summer? (image source:

5. Swim Bottoms That Aren’t Conducive To Water Sports

Ladies and gents, just bring shorts that will stay on your body while you’re tubing. Take it from me – worrying that your bikini bottoms are going to fall off makes water sports 10x less enjoyable. Oh – and make sure your shorts are fast drying! Your daisy dukes will look really cute, but it’s really uncomfortable to get in and out of the water in wet jorts.

Beyonce's shorts look a little clingy and heavy, right? (image source:

Beyonce’s shorts look a little clingy and heavy, right? (image source:

I hope this helps with your lakehouse packing strategy. When it comes to weekends at the lake, I find that practicality is usually the best tactic – but let me know if you disagree!

Any other things that you think are better left at home this summer when visiting a lakehouse? Please feel free to share any thoughts or comments!


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.

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!