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The Secret to Traveling Light is in the Bag
I love pretty clothes! Beautiful, well-tailored clothing is an art form in in itself. However, being a fashion maven isn’t as important to me as cultural pursuits and travel. After Vicki was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. Bill’s teacher’s salary stretched only so far, so we learned to make choices.
We do try to dress appropriately for the places that we visit. For example, we’d never wear shorts in Paris. Skimpy tops, skirts above the knee or shorts aren’t permitted in St. Peter’s Basilica.. When we were in Rome with Jean and her daughter, Nicole, wore a mini skirt to breakfast. "They won’t let you in St. Peter’s," I said. "Aw, get outt’a here, Rose Mary!" "I’m not kidding." Sure enough, they stopped her. "Scusi, Signorina, I regret that you cannot enter." Fortunately she’d tucked a pair of jeans into her huge backpack that made her look like Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Snickering, we stood in front of her in a corner while, glaring, she managed to hitch the jeans up under her skirt. Unable to remove the skirt, she had to parade through St. Peter’s, looking like a little girl from my youth when we wore snowsuit leggings under our skirts.
It was great fun traveling with gorgeous Nicole who had just graduated from college. Her dark complexion made her look like an Italian. Bill and she often walked arm-in-arm while Jean and I played rear guard. We’d watch the heads of the handsome Italian males snap to attention as they passed. You could almost read their minds: "And who is that lucky man to have such a little dolly on his arm?"
Bravo television fashion guru, Dan Gunn, says that a woman needs only ten well-chosen items in her wardrobe to be well turned out. I have more than that in my fall/winter closet, but my choices are mighty slim after the great closet cleanout. Choosing what to take to Italy took thought because October weather is as variable there as it is here. Layering is the answer. We follow travel expert Rick Steve’s advice to pack light. Our mantra is, "These people will never see us again!"
For three days each in Rome, Florence and Venice. I took a crushable micro-fiber coat, an extra pair of shoes, pajamas, underwear, a tan jacket, black and cream colored turtlenecks, two tee shirts, a long-sleeved blouse patterned in black, brow, tan and white, a brown wool cardigan with suede trim and black, brown and toast -colored pants. Actually, I could have left one or two shirts at home. I also took writing and reading materials, guidebooks and maps.
To keep my clothing wrinkle free, I put each item of apparel on its own hanger inside a drycleaner bag and lay the bags carefully in the suitcase. When we arrive at a hotel I hang the bags in the closet. I downsized my suitcase for this trip and got everything into a 14 x 21 x 7 suitcase with an expandable top and a carry-on.
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home--pulling their luggage behind them!
Today’s lightweight suitcases on wheels make traveling much easier than when I was young, and everyone had indestructible but dreadfully heavy Samsonite or American Tourister. While they waited at the check-in line at the Venice airport, homebound travelers chatted with each other. The couple ahead of us had a four-foot-high stack of really huge suitcases on a trolley, pulled others and had carry-ons.
"My goodness, what a lot of luggage you have! Been on an around-the-world trip?" I asked the lady. "Nope--a ten-day cruise," she responded. "We had to dress for three formal nights." She glanced rather disparagingly at my meager suitcase and pronounced, "I could never do that!" "Mutual, I’m sure," I thought to myself. I’d go nuts if I had to mess with that much stuff.
After we got home, I called Bill’s elegant sister-in-law who is always beautifully dressed. "Esther, how many suitcases did you tell me you took on that cruise that Rick and you took with your brother, Jack, and Betty?" She laughed and said, "Twenty-six! That was for the four of us, but most of it was Betty’s and mine. We changed clothes three times a day. We couldn’t decide what to take, so we just took everything!"
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