Two weeks. Few ways to easily do laundry. The possibility of constant rain. Of cold. Of working up a sweat while biking and hiking. Clothes to look decent in at decent restaurants, should we choose such a path. Shoes that can get wet. That can soothe and protect while walking eight hours or so a day. Clothes to layer so we can add or subtract easily.
All in one bag that isn't too big to carry on as who wants to be slowed down at baggage claims.Here are all the clothes I took. Plus the ones I was wearing. They turned out to be almost perfect. What we learned from the not perfect clothes we will change for next year. We're smart like that.
How to keep your clothes from wrinkling.
My son Philip scoffed at this when I bought him one for his trip to China. But when he came home, he admitted it really does keep your clothes mostly wrinkle free. Ha! Scoffing at your mother!
You might be able to make one yourself, but at $15, why bother? This works because it has two rigid plastic pieces. You use one to fold your clothes around, pulling it out when you're finished. (It's the same gadget stores use to get those perfect folds on their shirts.)
Then one plastic piece stays at the bottom of the stack and the other goes on top.
Wrap up and velcro the sides and ta-da! Very few wrinkles.
Outerwear: three essentials, perfect in every way.
The raincoat on the right has a hood, of course. (A raincoat without a hood is just plain silly.) The jacket is light enough to double as a windbreaker. I have an old Gore-Tex raincoat which I chose not to take because it's awfully heavy to use as a windbreaker. The one above is newer. They have improved fabrics from 10 years ago when I bought the Gore- Tex. I may sell that one on ebay.
If you've looked at the photos from our trip, you're no doubt sick of this thing. I wore it just about every day. It's a Patagonia that has a special fabric on the outside. I can't remember exactly what's so special about it. It's fleece, so it keeps you warm even if it gets wet.
It's heathered, so it doesn't show dirt. And it's a marvelous color. Really, like Mary Poppins' magic measuring tape, it's perfect in every way.
This doesn't have a hood, which is OK, because if it got really cold, I would add the raincoat/ windbreaker and pull that hood up. If zips up the front so you can adjust the warmth. It has a high collar so you can keep your neck warm.
Over the vest it provides warmth for cold days.
Under the windbreaker it keeps you warm on colder days.
Over the vest and under the windbreaker it protects you from every possible element nature can dish out.
Mostly. Maybe not a tornado that sucks you up into the sky.
Shirts: voted off the island.
I like cotton. Pure 100% oh-so-soft cotton. But, cotton has its downsides for travel. First, it's not a good layer next to your skin when it's cold, or when you're sweating. And (B), it takes forever to dry and then wrinkles like crap if you air dry it.
So I have come to a decision: next year, no cotton.
It makes me sad but there you have it.
Practicality rules when it comes to travel clothes.
The black shirt above is an Under Arrmour. Though it's not soft like cotton, it rocks travel-wise— keeps you dry when you sweat, warm when you're cold, dries overnight (for the most part), and doesn't wrinkle.
That, my friend, is a travel clothes.
By taking the not-cotton, I can pare my shirts down to two: one long-sleeved and one short-sleeved. (Plus the long-sleeved I'll wear.) Colors: black and grey.
If you're reading this, Bob, there's a great Christmas idea. Check LLBean first. And if you're not reading this, well, why is that?
Pants: if only all of life could be this simple.
Get ready for a product ad.
LLBean makes the best hiking/travel pants in the world. The world. The Comfort Trail Pants, Cropped are lightweight and breathable for year-round wear (this lingo is straight from their website) and made of a nylon blend that's soft yet durable (ditto).
You should get you some.
And you can, right HERE.
You can't see these in the picture because I wore them on the plane. They are black and exactly like those above except that instead of beng called Comfort Trail Pants, Cropped, they're called Comfort Trail Pants.
They're long, like pants.
LLBean does not mess around with their product names.
What I love besides everything are the pockets. Several zip. One is lower on the leg. Between them all you can carry everything you need for the day.
Scarves: haute couture plus practical too.
It's a addiction.
Not only are scarves highly and seriously fashionable, but they keep your neck warm. And, when added to a T-shirt, dress you up enough to eat anywhere we could afford.
I found these in a marvelous little shop in German Village in Columbus, Ohio. I bought three. They are made by hand of two soft and silky and stretchy pieces of fabric that form a long loop. You can wear them as one long loop or—as I do—twisted into two shorter ones. These little things turn an ordinary T-shirt into haute couture.
Haute enough for me anyway.
Actually, according to Infoplease.com, "Haute means "high" or "elegant." Couture literally means "sewing," but has come to indicate the business of designing designing, creating, and selling custom-made, high fashion women's clothes."
Which means that technically, my little scarf really is haute couture because it really is "elegant sewing."
But then the site goes on: "To be called a haute couture house, a business must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, which is regulated by the French Department of Industry."
I bet the artist never joined this club.
I bet you never knew all this about high fashion.
Underclothes: spend the damn money.
We did finally find a washer & dryer (they don't have them at B&Bs and guest houses) and did two loads of laundry halfway through our trip. But first I had to get change. Then I spent ten minutes trying to figure out how the damn things worked, and still got it wrong. Then it took forever for the cotton shirts and underwear to dry.
And I had to keep running back and forth to the laundry room late at night to see if they were done.
And they never were.
And I was tired.
And as I was spreading everything out across the spare beds and over the chairs and off the doors to dry so I could go to bed, I swore that on the next trip we would take the underwear I came so close to purchasing but then, in a fit of frugalness, stuffed back on the shelves and walked away. At the time I felt virtuous. After all, at $18 a pop—and we'd need two each—I had saved us a small bundle.
The night of laundry hell convinced me to spend the damn money.
Pillow protector: a must for certain types of people
Ditto, I never thought about bedbugs until my son Philip's dorm room was invaded by the pesky little critters.
Once you know about these things it's hard to sleep on other people's pillows.
So I always take pillow protectors with me. They take up far less room then actually lugging my pillow around—which believe me, I would if I could—and will last at least two weeks before needing washed. The trick is remembering to zip them off the pillow when you leave the hotel. Which, I am happy to report, we did.
Happy feet: is there anything more important?
I took two pairs of shoes: these running shoes (athough I have no intention of ever running anywhere, least of all for pleasure) and a pair of Keen waterproof sandels.
They were perfect. My feet were happy. Except on the most rugged parts of the coastal path, when my ankles kept threatening to give way and I was forced to tread cautiously and watch my feet, like an old lady.
Next year I will take hiking boots that protect my ankles so I will not mince along the rugged cliffs of Cornwall—I will tromp with confidence and gusto. I already bought the boots and am breaking them in on the rugged cliffs of Ohio. I am tromping with confidence and gusto.
I took 3 pairs of quick-drying socks that weren't quick-drying at all. Next year: that thin fabric that air drys in an hour or so.