Real Girl, Will Travel

If you are like me, you have a stack of fashion magazines that you have carefully thumbed through, dog-eared and used as a road map for each coming season. While I hail the beauty bibles for what they are worth, one article has never connected with me- the packing list for fashionable travelistas. I travel! I heart fashion! Yes, most of my fashion comes from an haute combo of Target, Goodwill and Forever 21 but most of what I have is a very good imitation of what I see in the glossies. When I peruse the list of shiny items “every woman must pack” while trolling in Tahiti, I just cannot seem to find that limited edition Prada satchel bearing my $1, 000 skin cream. Spritz Evian on my face when I get off the plane? Girl, please. I am planning to toss myself out of a Sonata after driving 7 hours to the beach.

Suitcase Boots

From years of packing and attempting to successfully consolidate a strong list for future trips, I bring to you my list of 5 must-haves in every real girl’s duffel, regardless of what destination she chooses! Note: this is not an exhaustive list- you should absolutely add the outfits you know will work with your destination; this is just a list of items I noticed never appear on hot lists but ALWAYS come in handy while traveling!

1. Fantastical Flats

  Black Flat Shoes

Unless you are like the girl I took an African dance class with in college and are simply unable to plant your feet flat to the ground, your feet will thank you for this one. I have found that “flats” may vary by season: flip flops (Summer), cigar slippers (Fall), booties (Winter) and ballet flats (Spring). I am also truly dedicated to a pair of moccasins my grandmother gave me years ago, and you may relate. The benefit of flats is two-fold: you will love them on a long day of trekking through various terrains and will feel empowered to jump over puddles, should the rain turn your way!

2. Bloated Beauty Queen Jumpsuit

Green Shirt






This next “item” is more of an outfit. I have dieted my way into some cute skinny jeans and tight tops only to arrive on day 4 of a vacation trying to hide some… unsightly bulges. I mean, who diets on vacation, right? I may try to stick to fish and salad but those chocolate cupcakes at the French bakery were not going to let me go home alone. An ode to cupcakes in Charlotte, white cheddar in Wisconsin, and Mojitos in Mexico: pack a pair of pants you would wear on your period. If you want to double-down due to holiday travel, add a flowy top, comfortable babydoll dress or other empire-waisted seductress in a slightly structured fabric. The point here is balance your bounty with dark denim for puffy days and leather for “woo girl!” nights.

3. Bertha Bag

Canvas Bag Big






My husband makes fun of my giant purses but equally expects it and asks me to stash his stuff in one of the eight compartments. I like to bring giant satchels/totes/bags as a fashionable carryon- one that might even include additional small purses (like baby purses or a version of Russian nesting dolls with smaller bags). It makes trips to the beach easy and transitions to night without fail. Bonus points if it is big enough for a bottle of sunscreen, water, flip flops and a light sweater.

4. Notice-Me Necklace

Giant Yellow Necklace

I have found that I love to pick out sassy outfits for vaca but barely ever take the time to pick out jewelry to accompany my outfit changes. If I have, I tend lose it after wearing it, in either the hotel room or one of those 8 compartments (aka black holes). My resolution here is simple- I now look for the biggest necklace I can find that I adore. I have a gigantor teal be-jeweled masterpiece that I have found looks so good with t-shirts, tanks and dresses! Rationale- I cannot lose something the size of half a dinner plate.

5. Hide-Me Hoodie (from the rain, not from the public)

Big Purple






I always remember to pack some version of a hoodie on all trips- even day trips or farmer’s market visits. It is much easier to pull out than a full umbrella and saves you from chill in our days that start at 55 rocket to 75 and fall back down again at dusk. Other than day time heroines, these little cozy coves are magic at night as a piece of pajamas. If you are not of the hoodie-ministry (aka did not come of age in the 90’s) you may prefer a hood on a cute trench or motorcycle jacket- both of which I rock with a little sass-a-frass.

Outside of these fab 5, pick out the outfits you feel most confident in. If you feel good, you will look good. Stay away from something you have never worn or don’t feel super comfortable in. Take time to plan some outfits to look forward to the days ahead of you. Please do not think I am advising you to only bring your giant-sized ensemble pieces—I just feel confident you will remember to bring your sexy club-wear, skinny jeans and other fitted knock-outs. Outside of outfits, remember to cover all of your bases and try to have a mini version of everything you used yesterday for your face, body and hair!

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