Packing light: Tropical Vacation Edition


A real testament to minimalist living is when you're forced to pack right before leaving for a week of vacation and right after a grueling exam. I actually used the list below as my packing list and took the clothing/packing photos the day before I was scheduled to leave but never got around to posting them because I had decided that I only wanted to splay out on the beach in my full bloppy-bodied glory sans a laptop or any kind of technology (it lasted for about two minutes before I felt the need to connect to the online world :P)

Our trip to Anguilla had been long overdue, and full-confession: this is actually our real honeymoon since we got married two years ago. If you're thinking about your next tropical vacation, this small island comes highly recommended; Anguilla is by far the most friendly and the most beautiful, and has some of the most exclusively luxurious beaches I've ever been to (and that includes Asia, Hawaii, Central and South America and many other parts of the Caribbean). If I were to ever move back to a location with tropical climate (holy shit, ants!!), I would pick Anguilla in a heartbeat.

Our 5 day trip was spent eating delicious albeit expensive seafood, drinking heavily-spiked rum punches and laying around on Shoal Bay whilst being treated like royalty by our the wonderful Robin and her crew at Las Esquinas - a boutique bed and breakfast that comes highly recommended on TripAdvisor. We were kind of lucky in that we left Anguilla right before the Christmas rush so we had entire strips of beaches mostly to ourselves and we were able to enjoy some of the nicer restaurants with last minute reservations. I had the most magnificent Coconut Cheesecake at Blanchard's Beach Shack which I am going to for a New Year's party and if you ever find yourself needing a recommendation for where to eat in Anguilla, please do yourself a favor and try the Chef's Tasting Menu at Veya.

 (Las Esquinas at sundown. Photo by AssembledHazardly)

Anyway, back to packing tips. I love traveling light and even on two week trips, I usually just lug around my 19" Briggs & Riley Commuter (fits in ALL window-side overhead bins including international flights) and a personal bag (fits under the seat in front of me). Depending on my destination, I sometimes use a backpack as a personal item or on this trip where things were slightly more upscale, I used a nice leather tote. I find that as long as you pack clothing that are easy to wash and dry and some laundry detergent, it's extremely easy to pack lightly. I never allow myself to carry more than two pairs of shoes (not including ones that I wear on the plane) and while a lot of people pooh-pooh at the idea of synthetic fibers, traveling with viscose-jersey and modal is a god-send. I'm a huge fan of Eileen Fisher clothing for all my travels and stockpile Gap modal panties whenever possible - modal, tencel or viscose are moisture wicking, washable, quick-drying, lightweight and if packed correctly, wrinkle free. The only time I don't wear synthetic fibers is on the plane when I try to mostly wear cotton and wool since synthetic fibers is highly flammable and can melt onto your skin in case of emergency, yikes!

I also use a lot of packing cubes and hoard a bunch of cotton drawstring bags that I use for shoe storage, underwear and to keep my clothes wrinkle free. Dirty clothes go into a waterproof diaper bag to keep out funky smells. I have to just state for the record that the Briggs & Riley is not the most lightweight suitcase but it rolls over cobblestone like nobody's business and takes a severe beating from all the crazy chucking around that airlines do while offering an unconditional lifetime warranty. I've also discovered through experience that a nice black dress and a pair of dressy shoes is imperative. I ended up using my Eileen Fisher shift dress paired with the Marni jeweled sandals for all three nights that we dined at fancier restaurants. I found that even with my very low-key jewelry, the shoes and clutch completely jazzed up the outfit. I brought along my trusty Isabel Marant scarf that I used all through the airport/airplane as a wrap and as a cover up on the beach.

To make plane travel easier, I always, always, always have a sleep mask with me, a pair of earplugs and in-ear headphones (noise canceling ones e.g. Bose give me a headache and are extremely uncomfortable for sleeping) and a travel therapy spray of some sort. On our five-hour journey home from D.C. to San Francisco, we sat adjacent to a screaming baby who literally screeched for three-quarters of the flight and some high NRR earplugs made everything slightly more bearable (those poor, unfortunate parents). In terms of skincare/cosmetics, I've grown quite fond of the Grown Alchemist Travel Set (body and skincare all in one) and find myself chucking that in a transparent case with some samples of scrubs and cleansers and calling it a day. I know some frequent travelers think it's dumb to travel with shampoo and soap, but a word of advice, if you're at all picky about your hair and you're staying at any place other than a chain hotel, bring your own shampoo so you don't have to pay a tourist's price for dinky bottles of Pantene at gift shops. 

I've listed my top ten items for traveling as well as my actual packing list below; I'm of a fan of multi-use items and one of the perks of having a blog is using a post as a to-do list and to keep you honest. For most of my trip, my only regret was not bringing an extra shirt or my Rennes dress. There's nothing like having to live out of a suitcase to make one realize it's entirely possible to survive with 10 items of clothing for a season. I find myself constantly surprised by how much I have no need or want for most of the things I own when I travel. I often come home after a vacation to the realization that I have so much crap that I really need to change my lifestyle - and that in itself is entirely fulfilling experience. If you have any other tips for packing minimally, please share!

Assembled Hazardly's Top 10 Must-Haves for Traveling
1. Lightweight black shift dress
2. Dressy shoes
3. Good walking shoes
3. Klorane Dry Shampoo
4. Tom Ford Concealer Pen
5. BB Cream with SPF
6. iPhone
7. Lightweight Shawl
8. Earphones
9. Olivine Atelier Beauty + Love Facial Mist
10. In Fiore Veloutee 

Black jersey dress  (Eileen Fisher)
Beach tunic (J. Crew)
Swimsuit (Araks)
Sandals (Ancient Greek)
Dressy sandals (Marni)
Linen tee (J. Crew)
Beach pants (J. Crew) 
Short-sleeve Tee (Organic John Patrick)
Shorts (The Gap which I cut and hemmed)
Sleep shorts
Sleep tee
Underwear (I love the modal ones from The Gap and I brought five) 
Wireless bras (three)
Sun hat
Beach tote
Fouta towel 

Travel outfit
J. Crew Sweatpants
APC x Nike Sneakers
Gap Essential Long-sleeve Tee
Organic John Patrick Cardigan
Isabel Marant Ghazo Scarf
Travel hair straightener
Oribe Fine Hair Spray
Klorane Dry Shampoo
Ziploc bags

Think Baby! Sunscreen SPF 50+
Aloe Vera After Sun Care
Bug spray
Delicate wash detergent in travel packs
Waterproof bag
Thera Tears dry eye drops
Contacts solution and case
Sulwhasoo Overnight Revitalizing Mask
Sulwhasoo Ginseng Moisturizer 
Grown Alchemist Travel Set
RMS Eye Polish in Magnetic
Kjaer Weis Cream Blush
Guerlain BB Cream
Soleil Toujours SPF 45++
Face scrub and mask
Skyn Iceland Eye Mask
Caudalie Hand Cream
Ilia Lip Conditioner
In Fiore Veloutee
Olivine Atelier Beauty Mist
La Bella Figura Travel Therapy
Tom Ford Concealer Pen
Anastasia Brow Pencil
Personal Items Bag
iPad mini
Paperback book
Battery Pack
Noise-cancelling headphones
Blanche silk eye mask
Pinch Provisions Minimergency Kit (added a folding scissors)
Travel Documents
Change of underwear/tee shirt
Energy bar
Nail File
Small Camera

And as a year end sidenote, thank you so much to everyone who has been following this blog through all my pessimistic rants and indecipherable gibberish, through all my ridiculous opinions and inane observations, and through my recent slew of affiliate links. Thank you and I hope you have the loveliest of holidays and a wonderful new year.