Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My (small) bag is packed . . . . London, Paris, j'arrive . . .

Today's the day. All the house-sitting, pet-sitting, mail pick-up has been arranged, all our good-bye visiting has been done, a few last-minute items to pick up and we're off late this afternoon. The worldwide headlines jangle my travel-day nerves even more than usual, but I'm with Pater, and together we'll manage whatever challenges and thrills the next six weeks deliver.

Yesterday's plans changed when we were recruited to look after a little girl who wasn't well enough to go to daycare, so I never did get any photos taken of my packing. You'll just have to believe me that I fit all these items in my little red carry-on, and check photos over the next few weeks to see how I combined them.

12 Garments for 6 weeks?! That's a capsule wardrobe challenge, no?
My carry-on is quite tightly packed, but I think it's going to work, and I even have room planned for bringing home the few purchases I'm sure to make. The biggest challenge will be the potentially cool, wet weather we are likely to have during March and April, and the fact that I just couldn't bear six weeks in the same coat.

Many (my oldest daughter, for example, just yesterday) have asked why I would restrict myself to such a limited wardrobe when it's so easy to check a larger bag. First, we relish grabbing our bags and zipping straight through Customs and out to grab a train into the city, no impatient fretting at a luggage carousel. And when we get on those rapid transit/commuter trains, we're not getting dirty looks for hogging extra space, nor are we having to wrestle bigger bags through a crowd. The budget hotels we often stay in, especially in Europe, are quite small and two carry-on cases don't crowd them uncomfortably as larger ones would.

As well, I like travel to disrupt my routine. I like that it pushes me out of my regular parameters, and I don't mind extending that to my dress. And for the past several months, I've become uncomfortably aware of the excess in my closet. So many have been blogging about this phenomenon that I haven't felt I needed to add my voice, but I haven't bought any wardrobe additions this year, and ín the window-shopping I've done, even including considerable trying-on, I'm trying to determine what I really want.  (Here's an interesting post from The Women's Room on the cooling-off phenomenon in shopping.) The relationship between want and need has become too skewed for me, and I'm hoping that six weeks with one suitcase in the midst of some retail wonders will have a clarifying effect.

Or I'll go mad, buy a much larger suitcase, shop 'til it's full, and check it on the return flight. We'll see.

No pictures of my crammed-full suitcase, but here's the lineup:

Black stretch (Ponte knit) NYDJ slim jeans
Black pencil skirt, woven poly, just enough Lycra
Black Smythe blazer, lightweight wool
Black Gap long-sleeve, polyester top, gently scooped neck -- will discard with no compunctions to leave room for purchases
Black cashmere v-neck sweater. To wear under my jacket or trenchcoat if it's miserably cold
  OR to layer over blouse instead of a jacket if it's not windy or wet.

grey-green cotton-blend knit top,
purple jersey top,
Ruffled, black-floral print, chiffon shirt
Purple boyfriend-length cardigan, quite fitted, very fine, Modal/Cashmere

Silk jersey multi-colour print dress, Catherine Malandrino
Grey-black-white graphic-print Kenneth Cole Reaction knit dress
Sandwich knit dress, grey-khaki-cream print

Yoga/running gear -- can all be left behind to make room for shopping

Two or Three scarves
Deep blue cross-body small Roots bag (this stays separate, filled with wallet, travel docs, lipstick, etc.)
M0851 Functional Bag, dark brown (I've filled this with Netbook, e-Reader, and cosmetics)
Black leather Mackage jacket
Metallic silver Burberry trench

small bag of jewelry (2 necklaces, earrings)

Black flat knee-high Fluevog boots; Black patent leather brogues; Black Fluevog strappy heels; Running shoes with about 6 weeks good running wear left in them so they can be left behind -- making room for a new pair of shoes, should I find the perfect pair to bring home (not runners!)

My Netbook
a few books

Of course, many of the pictures you'll see of my outfits against London and Paris backgrounds over the next few weeks will primarily show me in either my coat or my leather jacket, but I hope to be able to give you an idea of how much variety can be squeezed out of one small case. We'll see . . .

So there you go. You can bet on whether I'll manage the six weeks of wardrobe restriction with a sense of liberation and enjoyment, OR will I choose the "shopping wildly out of sheer frustration" option. I'll be posting again from London once the jetlag and fatigue has faded a bit, and you know your comments always make me happy! Au revoir!


  1. Your wardrobe sounds like it will be very versatile...and all in a carry on...good planning!
    Bon voyage!

  2. I'm so excited for you!! Reading your packing list, I'm more confident than ever that I'll have no problem managing this time with a capsule wardrobe in a carry-on. Oh, you're going to have such a wonderful adventure! Bonne journée!!!

  3. I'm guessing the sights and sounds of London and Paris will provide any endorphins lacking in a small wardrobe. 6 weeks! How wonderful, and yet how long away from home. I hope you have a brilliant time, as the British would say, and that tout va bien, as the other guys would:).

  4. Bon voyage!!! What packing skills....I aspire to join the
    carry-on bag club.....do keep us apprised of your glorious adventures!

  5. Thank you for the packing list!

    Have a beautiful trip. I'll be thinking of you.

  6. Great packing list! I'm sure you'll have such a marvellous time you'll barely give your small wardrobe a thought - in fact, having fewer options means you'll spend less time worrying about what to wear. Looking forward to the pics and stories.

  7. Good job Mater! Now I'm thinking of what I will pack in my carryon bag. Will need 10 days worth for Amsterdam and Paris. You are taking more dresses than I would, but they are not my thing. Here's to a lovely trip filled with wonderful experiences!

  8. You got all that in a carryon???!!! Have a magical time, every single day. Eager to hear all about it and bon voyage.

  9. Fantastic! We just went to NC (albeit, only for 5 days), the 3 of us, in 2 carry on bags. And they weren't full. You can totally do this. If you want, go nuts and buy a new bag to fill it with new things. Or maybe you'll just spend on memories. But def. bring back some goodies like macarons.

  10. I think you will be fine in what you have packed, wish I could see your face when you land and see how vile the weather is here! If you buy anything it will be thermals!! Either that or you will finally get to warm up on our delightful public transport system.
    Having only worn half of what I took to Cyprus, I am try this next year and buy Leyla her own case, well OK buy me one and giver hers back.
    See you soon

  11. Safe travels! By now I'm sure you're sleeping in the UK, happily catching up on that jet lag. I look forward to following your adventure and I am sure your wardrobe choices will get you through the entire 6 weeks without a problem. Enjoy every moment!

  12. I am truly amazed that you can get this in a bag that is only 22" x 18" x 10" but I would hate the waste of having to buy fresh cosmetics/ toiletries at each destination so as to comply with the airline regulations for liquids.

  13. I am so impressed by your ability, and willingness, to travel with one bag for six weeks! Truly you are a more evolved woman than I.

    Have a great trip; I would love six weeks with my husband in foreign countries...heck, I'll take a weekend!


  14. Thanks all. I do think the simplified choices combined with the wealth of stimulation I'll find here in other areas will see me through these weeks with ease.
    Marguerite: they're very easy-to-wear dresses, and I'm beginning to realize they really ARE my thing -- and they take less room than separates.
    Duchesse: I did, but it was a tight fit!
    K: Thanks for the support -- and yes, room for macarons is v. important.
    Couture: thanks!
    Anon: See my earlier post -- by borrowing some of my husband's allowance, I'm able to manage this quite easily -- and after all, it's rather fun to have an excuse to shop for cosmetics in London and Paris!
    Christine: I know! Every time I'm tempted to get a bit cranky with him (it does happen ;-)) I remind myself that I'm pretty fortunate to have a guy who likes this kind of holiday.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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