In the past 7 years, I have been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of traveling. My once crisp, blank-paged passport is now worn and nearly full, the pages colored with stamps from the United Emirates, Barbados and Costa Rica to name a few. Many times I’ve found myself packing for contrasting destinations with limited luggage space which can be a little tricky, it feels life I’m playing fashion suduko or trying to solve a style algebra equation. If girl K leaves St.Maarten in the winter and arrives in Italy in the spring, what kind of shoes should she wear in London in the fall? In my more novice packing days, I assumed the more options the better until I found myself paying excessive baggage fees on a regular basis……most of the time in Euros. The charges were really starting to add up to the point where I realized the cost of carrying those items with me was starting to outweigh their actual value. Numerous times, I’d place my bag on the scale at the airport check in counter, the zippers nearly bursting at the seams, only to be told I owed over $150 for being a couple of pounds over. In an effort to minimize travel expenses, I’d take my bag to the nearest rest room and play a game of clothing survivor, throwing away my least worn items in hopes of lightening my load just enough that I wouldn’t have to pay…..
I said a heartfelt goodbye to a vintage sequined tunic in Dusseldorf, “Auf Wiedersehen you glitzy little gem, thanks for always standing out in a crowd.“ In Rome, I explained to a lavender fringe flapper dress that I was in love with but had a broken zipper, that the costs were starting to outweigh the value and our journey together had to end. Despite my deepest affections for the gorgeous number, I just didn’t see myself being able to repair it anytime soon, meaning it was nothing but an unwearable burden. “It’s not you it’s me, Ciao bella.” I said to soften the blow as I placed it in the trash of Terminal C while on the verge of tears.
I practically became an airport Hansel & Gretel, leaving a trail of clothing crumbs at various points along my international path until I learned my lesson. Finally I’ve mastered the art of streamline packing, narrowing my on the go wardrobe down to the perfect combination of stylish essentials; a fashion formula that can be applied to almost any destination without weighing me down or draining my bank account. These are my must haves: -a Good leather Jacket. It can add casual edginess or sophisticated warmth to any outfit, and layers well with almost anything from jeans to a fancy dress. -leopard print shoes. There is nothing more classic than a killer pair of animal print pumps, but recently I purchased some loafers in my favorite goes with everything print and I swear, I wear them almost every day. I love them because the style is conservative and comfortable, but I still get to take a walk on the wild side. A pop of leopard print in any form adds sass and class to everyday basics. -a collection of scarves. Scarves are the traveling girl’s best friend. They pack well, hardly taking up any space and are like the swiss army knife of fashion accessories… A good scarf can be a bikini coverup, a beachy hair wrap, a neck warmer or just the extra added piece of visual interest to an otherwise humdrum ensemble. Denim- a few pieces of denim in different colors and lengths can take you almost anywhere in the world. I always have a pair of white long skinnies for day, a pair of black long skinnies for night, some distressed boyfriend jeans for almost anytime and a pair of cutoffs for the warmest destinations. The long and the short of it is: you can almost always count on denim to be the universal right answer. These items, when mixed in with basic tanks and t-shirts in neutral colors can truly take me anywhere. Throw in some cool statement jewelry, a big leather bag and some sunnies and Voila! I’m ready for anything and anywhere from the tree lined streets of Savannah to the meandering cobblestone alleys of Barcelona. I always carry a couple of pretty dresses for more fancy occasions but the most important thing I have in my luggage is extra room for the new pieces I pick up along the way, special momentos from my travels that I can wear further down the road. Just like the clothing we choose to pack for a trip, the relationships we choose to carry with us can sometimes hold us back, weigh us down, or alternately give us the freedom to go anywhere the future takes us. Solid friendships are like denim; basic essentials we all need on a day to day basis; we can rely on them to be there for us regardless of the climate or time of year. Some friends are like fashion trends; they come into our lives for a season and add something new and different but don’t last for the long haul because inevitably after a while, tastes change and people evolve so you have to learn to let go. The sequin tunic I left in Germany was the same as fun acquaintance: great for a wild night out but not really something I would want in my everyday life. I don’t miss the flashy eye-catcher at all, but appreciate the good times we had and kind of laugh at how outrageous it was. The lavender fringy flapper dress I parted ways with in Italy however, was a little more special and more difficult to say goodbye to. There are some days where I wish I still had it hanging in my closet, but deep down I know the zipper would most likely still be broken and it would just be taking up valuable space. There have been people in my life like that beautiful but broken dress. There have been people that I loved, just the sight of them putting butterflies of happiness in my stomach……. but shit happens and things go wrong and at some point you have to admit when a dress or a relationship is beyond repair. Maybe it was my fault that it broke or maybe I could have tried a little bit harder to fix it, but at the time it didn’t seem worth it, I didn’t see the sense sacrificing my time and energy for something that no longer served it’s purpose. It’s easy to get caught up in the what if’s and maybe’s in your mind….What if I had taken in to a tailor? Maybe it just needed a different kind of clasp?………But thinking that way about past decisions will only lead to regret and that’s not healthy. I try to focus on the fact that there are plenty more dresses and people in the world for me to enjoy, and now that I’ve gotten rid of what wasn’t working anymore, I have room for the next thing I fall in love with. When I choose to be selective with my baggage, I can go so much farther than when I try to carry every single thing with me. I only want to carry on the things that add beauty and comfort to my journey, and anything I am missing I’ve learned you can pick up along the way, but only if have you room for it. Who knows…. the next thing down the road that gives me butterfly in the stomach feelings of happiness might be even more wonderful than anything I’ve had before and if it’s truly meant to travel with me forever, whatever holds it together will probably never break.