I have a bunch of friends doing some overseas travels within the next month or so, and naturally I'm super jealous. I'm talking Japan, Paris, Israel, Greece, Italy. Fuck you guys. What? I don't fit in your carryon? Pssh.
One of said friends is backpacking through Italy and Greece. While I wouldn't call the traveling I do "backpacking," she's been asking me for tips. In particular, how to pack. She mentioned not wanting to wear flip flops because she heard Europeans think that's only for dirty Americans, and she knows she needs practical footwear but she thought she'd ask me because she thinks I'm "stylish."
(I mean, not to brag but when Jen and I were in Paris, the cashier at the pharmacy did ask us if we were in town for Paris Fashion Week. BRB, brushing my shoulder off.)
OK, dirty American or not, I mean... flip flops? Here are my essentials for not looking like a dirty 'merican ho, starting, of course, with footwear.
This is like rull important because unless your overseas trip is a beach trip where you're sipping daiquiries on your ass til the sun goes down, chances are your overseas trip is a sightseeing one which means lots of walking. And no matter how fit you are (because Jen and I are), once you've done three museums in one day, you'll feel muscles around your ankles that you never even knew existed. Now you could be like Jen and many fashion bloggers out there and rock the Nike Frees with skirts or whatever, but if you're like me, you probably can't pull that off without looking like an orthodox Jewish girl gone astray. Personally, I save the gym shoes for the most active days -- hiking or ::shudder:: biking -- and usually I'm also wearing gym clothes.
And flip flops? No. I don't actually wear flip flops much to begin with. I save them for around the house, at the pool, or going to yoga. That said, I also have a very real fear of my bare foot accidentally coming into contact with disgusting city street. Heels are out too. Sure, they make your legs look great, but 1) I am already taller than many a man, 2) they hurt and I am too lazy for that kind of pain, and 3) cobblestone.
Most of the trips Jen and I do are in the fall, so sandals aren't really an option, but if I brought sandals, they'd be cute, comfy, and most definitely not backless. Other than that, I usually pack a comfortable pair of boots that go with everything, chucks, neutral flats, and TOMS. I wear my TOMS with everything. It's a bit basic bitch, but fuck it, they're like little heavenly canvas clouds on your feet.
By this I mean a light jacket or a pullover. Personally, I bring my denim jacket or my little faux leather jacket everywhere. Over the course of the day, you're going to be in and out of a million places. You could be bolting through big-ass Kensington Gardens trying to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, sweating your ass off, only to then go INTO freezing Buckingham Palace for a tour. Or you could be schvitzing in the humid Louvre and find yourself seated in a chilly Parisian cafe only an hour later. The light jacket will keep you warm AND it won't be a burden to carry when you take it off. If you have the right kind of bag, you can even loop it through (or tie it around your waist...desperate times...).
The pullover of course functions the same way. It can be lightweight, and plus, if it's soft, it'll be cozy. It's pretty comforting in a freezing hotel room or when you're napping en route on a train from London to Edinburgh.
A VERSATILE HAT
Now's the time of the year where I start to lament that I won't have a good hair day for the next five months or so. #JewishGirlProblems, amirite? If you're going somewhere where you expect rain, you might be better off with a hooded jacket, but if that's too much to pack, then a hat should do the trick. A beanie if it's chilly enough, a fedora if you're douchey enough. Just beware that if you get too hot whilst wearing said hat, you'll end up with hat head and be forced to wear it all damn day, so select hat days wisely.
I like jewelry, and I have a lot of it. I'll wear my watch every day, but otherwise I like to switch shit up according to outfit. After Jen and I went to Paris and Barcelona, I gave up on doing this. First of all, you don't want to wear anything blingy in an unfamiliar city where you don't speak the language and people know you're a tourist. It's better to keep it simple and classy and probably not too expensive. But really the important lesson I learned is to bring one set to wear the whole time. Stuff that goes with everything. For me that means my watch, one ring, one set of earrings, and one necklace (or two if I am layering). Usually small, simple, and gold because it goes with everything. I brought a ton of jewelry with me to Paris and Barca and after the first day was far too lazy to go through it all and just ended up wearing the same stuff every day. And then when I got home, all of the other necklaces were tangled. Worst.
OK hear me out. I wear makeup every day, but I don't put too much on, I do it the same way all the time, and I never ever touch it up throughout the day because really who has time for that? I also don't wear lipstick most of the time, but when I do, I think a nice bright red has a way of pulling everything together. It's easy to carry and it will freshen up your whole face if you don't have time to go back to the hotel before dinner (or if you don't pack a whole makeup bag for touch-ups because I mean really, ain't nobody got time fo' dat). Red lipstick somehow pulls you together when you're looking frazzled and unkempt. Even if you've ridden a bike through a monsoon.
So there you have it! The rest is cake.