What's your craziest travel clothing story?
Forgetting your clothes? Packing too much? Not having anything appropriate to wear?
Been there. Done that.
I've also brought the wrong shoes, left clothing behind, and had a shampoo bottle explode in my suitcase.
Getaways are supposed to be fun. Enjoyable.
But if you spend them inappropriately dressed, or pack more or less than you need, it can really throw a monkey wrench into it. The trip you spent so much time looking forward to can get old, fast.
Like the time I flew to Minneapolis with a colleague for training. It was late April and the flowers were in bloom in Texas - but we landed in a blizzard in Minnesota. The next day, we attended the training wearing what we would have worn in Houston: beautiful spring colored business suits. Everyone else was in jeans. Not only were we overdressed, we looked like Easter eggs in the snow.
Then there was the time I went to Las Vegas as a teen for a dance convention, and brought all high heel shoes for my non-dance time. But I danced so much and my feet were so swollen that I couldn't wear them. I ended up wearing my jazz shoes instead to walk around the casinos and tour the Strip. It destroyed them and I had to toss them when I got home.
Then there was my brother's college graduation. My sister put all her clothes in a garment bag and hung it on the back of her bedroom door – and accidentally left it there when we left town. My other sister and I had to share our clothes with her, which was tough since we were all different sizes.
Funny how the first thing I remember about those trips is the wardrobe gaffes. That's because we tend to remember times of stress more easily than times of joy. As I got better at packing, the trips became more memorable for the people we met and the adventures we enjoyed.
Which makes sense.
When your feet hurt because you packed the wrong shoes, you're cold because you forgot a coat, or you “didn't get the memo” about the dress code and now look like a complete fool, all you can think about is your discomfort. And when you're miles away from home with no easy remedy, it makes you feel that much worse.
Chalk it up to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
Until you've got the basics covered – food, clothing, shelter – it's hard to focus on anything else. So lost luggage IS a big deal. So is wearing light weight clothes in the snow. Or heavy winter clothes in the heat. When you don't have what you need, that's all you can focus on.
But it becomes amplified when you travel because you're in a strange place. You don't know where to get things, and they always cost more when you're on the road. Sometimes, you're at the mercy of others.
I'll never forget the time I flew to Portland, Oregon for a big job interview. I was so stressed out about it, I got my period – two weeks early. I was completely unprepared and had to scramble to find supplies. It was late at night and the hotel gift shop was closed, so I had to drive around in the dark, in my rental car, looking for an all-night convenience store. I found one and was standing in line to make my purchase when the guy in front of me turned around and tried to steal my purse. I snatched it away from him and made such a scene that he freaked out and fled the store empty-handed. By the time I got back to the hotel, I knew I wasn't going to take the job. As pretty as Portland was, I just didn't feel safe there.
Perhaps. But we're shaped by our experiences. Had I packed better, I would never have gone to that convenience store – and my life might have taken a different course. We'll never know.
But I do know that feminine hygiene products became a permanent part of my travel bag after that. No more late night convenience store runs for me. I don't carry a full supply, just enough to see me through a day so I can find more during daylight hours. I encourage you to do the same.
So have all my trips been bad?
Of course not! I wouldn't have kept traveling if they were.
In fact, once I learned what to pack – and what not to – travel became so much more enjoyable. I could focus on the adventure. The people. The new experience.
No more schlepping over-packed suitcases through airports. No more arriving at my destination unprepared. No more waiting endlessly in baggage claim.
In fact, I haven't checked a bag in years – not since my kids were too little to carry their own. I taught them how to pack, and now they do as I do: make a little do a lot. No more baggage fees, bell boy tips, or overfilling a rental car trunk. It's made life so much easier.
I'm happy to report that the 'shopping experience' has been totally transformed! For the first time in years I KNOW what it is I'm looking for and find it without expending so much time and energy. The change has been like night and day.Kay Dixon, Huntington Beach, CA
"Thank you so much for your valuable ideas!"
What really keeps me interested is how you incorporate real life into your writing. I enjoy knowing this is coming from a real person with real LIFE issues!! So it's a pleasant surprise for me to read your witty stories that so delightfully lead into your latest fashion tip.Shauna Raduske, Syracruse, UT
"Keep 'em coming!!"
So what's the secret?
Take only what you need, and nothing else.
That was my biggest problem in the beginning: I didn't know what I needed. I'd stand in front of my closet and toss things into my suitcase on the off-chance I might need them. Shoes. Extra handbags. A business suit. I wanted to be prepared.
But I still forgot stuff. Like walking shoes. A coat. Cocktail attire.
Even when I planned everything I needed, outfit by outfit, I still came up short. Like the time I went to a wedding and was invited to the Bridesmaids' luncheon while we were at the Rehearsal Dinner. Nothing like wearing the same cocktail dress you wore the night before to a brunch the next morning with the same people. That last minute invitation made me look like I'd been out all night in the same dress. I got the “walk of shame” looks even though there was no one night stand. Yeah, that was fun.
But then I learned a simple strategy that changed everything: clothing capsules.
The first time I saw it, I thought it wasn't for me. Lots of different outfits from just a handful of clothes? No, thanks. My inner fashionista rebelled. I needed more variety, more drama. I resisted the idea for years.
Until I tried it.
I've never looked back.
Because when you can come up with endless combinations from a dozen pieces, it alleviates a lot of stress – particularly when you travel. Last minute invitation? No problem! Another round of interviews tomorrow? You bet! Lose a top overboard? So sad! But you still have plenty of options. Because each piece makes you look great and feel like a million bucks.
The best part? You lose about 40 pounds of clothing and accessories when you travel. Forget taking everything you own and a bunch of different shoes. It's not necessary. You'll still have infinite options.
I am so excited by my new image that I can't sleep! I've already built 3 capsules and gotten rid of a huge trashbag of clothes that are the wrong fit, color, or image.
"Thank you, thank you. This is what I've been searching for my whole life. Your book is helping me to finally become the woman I really am."Andrea Drongoski, Wichita, KS
I've read several “how to pack” travel guides over the years, trying to get a handle on things, but they all have the same glaring problems:
- They only take one lifestyle into consideration (like business traveler or globe-trotting retiree)
- They don't understand the psychology of clothes
Interesting information, but lots of gaping holes.
Let's start with the lifestyle.
I'm a business woman with a family, and I travel for both business and pleasure – sometimes in the same trip. My kids are older now, but over the years, I've had to deal with car seats, portable cribs, and diaper changes when traveling.
All those family trips refined my packing strategy. Because when you're juggling an infant, a toddler, and lots of luggage, you get creative FAST – and leave lots of stuff at home next time.
But most of those “how to pack” books don't address families. In fact, when you ask most people how to travel with kids, they usually say the same thing: “Don't.”
Yes, it's a challenge. But it's also a lot of fun – we've made TONS of great memories. But I won't lie – it involved a lot of trial and error.
These days I can pack for a variety of things - swimming, sightseeing, cocktail parties, meetings, etc. – and still get everything in one bag. It's not that hard when you know what to do.
Now let's address the psychology of clothes.
On a Friday night in New York recently, I was strolling through the Theater district. As people stood in line to get into the various Broadway shows, I watched a show called the “Haves and the Have Nots” on 45th Street. It was fascinating.
Because there were no cameras rolling. It was real life.
The ultra wealthy arrived in limousines and were dressed in evening apparel. They got out of their cars and were ushered into the theater right away. Everyone else was dressed very casually, many in t-shirts and jeans. They had to stand outside.
The thing is, Broadway show tickets aren't cheap – they start around $100 each. To spend that much money and not dress appropriately just doesn't make any sense to me. But to have to wait outside, like you're queuing for a movie? Ridiculous. Yet more common than you know. And most people don't even realize that how they're dressing is part of what's keeping them the outside.
Because they don't understand the psychology of clothes.
Following fashion has long been associated with wealth, because only people with money can regularly afford to buy new clothes. Since wealth is associated with power, people tend to defer and cater to it. So when you dress well, you're treated better, because you're perceived as having wealth and influence. When you dress poorly, you tend to be overlooked and ignored.
That's what was happening to those people standing in line, many of whom were visitors to the Big Apple. How do I know they were visiting? Because they didn't dress like New Yorkers going to a Broadway show. They dressed like Out of Towners.
There's an episode in Sex and the City where Carrie tells Berger that women from New York don't wear scrunchies. When Berger points to a woman wearing one in the line in front of them, Carrie tells him she's not from New York. She wasn't. She was from North Carolina.
It's easy to see who's “not from New York” just by walking around there. The difference is THAT distinct. Successful New York women actually do walk around in heels, “Dressed to the Nines.” So do many men. It was blatantly obvious.
Yet most people just don't see it.
But you can bet those who cater to the tourist industry do.
Cab drivers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, tour operators – they know what your clothes say about you. That if you dress well, you probably tip well. So you get their full attention. But if you're dressed like a slob? No so much. Moreover, if you're friendly and chat them up a bit, you'll get even better service. I've seen it too many times to count.
But most people don't go that deep, particularly when they're on vacation. They just want their clothing to be easy and comfortable, and they don't really care what anyone thinks.
Which is a shame.
Because being comfortable doesn't have to mean sloppy.
Sloppy is for your household, for when you don't want anyone to see you. Taking it outside and on vacation can get you in all kinds of trouble.
That's what many America tourists have discovered when trying to visit centuries-old cathedrals in Italy: their casual wear is inappropriate. Italy has long standing religious traditions they expect to be observed, and if you don't, you're not welcomed. You may be asked to leave.
Same when visiting Muslim countries. Don't want to cover up? Get ready for the backlash.
Different places have different rules. If you want to be treated well wherever you go, you'll learn them. You'll also be able to pack appropriately and have a lot more fun.
That's the biggest secret I've learned over the years: knowledge is power.
Which brings me back to the problems with most of the “how to pack” and “what to wear when you travel” books I've read. They'll give you a list of what to wear, and show you how to pack it. But they won't tell you why to wear it, or how you'll be perceived. Because they don't know.
I've been an image consultant for over 20 years and have helped tens of thousands of women transform their lives through clothing. I understand how other people think when it comes to clothes.
Let me give you an example:
That recent trip to New York I mentioned earlier was for my daughter's 8th grade class trip. We live a few hours away in Delaware, and it was a lot of fun. Almost every parent and child who went on the trip wore t-shirts and jeans. I didn't. I wore a bright red floral top with black capris, a white jacket, red purse, and beige walking shoes.
I stood out from the crowd.
Because I wanted my daughter to find me easily in the crowd if we got separated. I also wanted to venture into some high end stores if we got the chance. When I strolled into Bergdorf Goodman like I belonged there to look at one of their displays, no one batted an eye. Several clerks asked if they could help.
It was a much different scene two years ago when I went to New York with my older daughter's class. Although I was dressed similarly then, we were followed around Tiffany's by an armed guard. Why? Because we went into the store with a group of her classmates who were all dressed in t-shirts and jeans. None of the clerks offered to help, and seemed relieved when we left.
See the difference?
How you dress determines how you'll be treated – period. In your hometown or around the world, you tell others how to treat you based on how you're dressed.
So if you want the best service possible when you travel, dress well. You'll be astounded by how people respond to you.
Right now you may be thinking that I'm asking too much of you.
It IS a tall order, which is why it took me years to hone.
But it can be done, and with immediate success.
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Hi, my name's Diana Pemberton-Sikes and I'm the image consultant and fashion blogger behind FashionForRealWomen.com, one of the oldest and most content-rich fashion sites on the web. I started modeling at 15 and have written more than a dozen books about fashion. My readers often tell me I have a "common sense" approach to fashion.
Over the years, I've traveled a lot for both business and pleasure. Some of my favorite places include New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Lake Sebago, Maine, isn't bad, either. I've met TONS of people and had lots of adventures. I'd travel all the time if I could. Once my kids are out of school, I probably will.
What I'm sharing with you in Getaway Magic is time-tested, in the trenches information - from an image consultant's perspective. You won't see this anywhere else.
Some of the most frequently asked questions I get are about how to dress when you travel. Between packing too much, dressing inappropriately, and paying a fortune in bag and handling fees, women want a simple solution to dressing well when they travel.
Getaway Magic offers that solution.
In fact, once you watch the videos and apply what you learn, you'll be shocked by how little you'll need to getaway. The course will pay for itself in the baggage fees you don't pay, the last minute stuff you don't buy, and the stress you won't have when traveling.
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Yep- for about the cost of a dress, you can learn how to plan and pack a travel wardrobe that will take you anywhere you want to go with ease.
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Once you're done, you'll not only have a VERY clear idea of how to pack light whenever you travel, you'll also have a much better understanding of how to dress for various occasions and how to get along with people from different cultures. Come back and review the videos any time. Or, download them to your computer for future reference.
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