Monday, March 9, 2015

Dreaming of Tropical Vacations

Pictured products from J. Crew. The beach tunic, which I purchased recently on additional 40% off, is here. I can't personally vouch for J. Crew bikinis because they don't carry ones in my bra size, but mine is also navy with polka-dots.

New York City continued its snowy, slushy, and bitterly cold winter last week, but I've consoled myself by starting to plan my trip to Asia, which will take place in August after I take my licensing exams. I'll have almost two months free before starting my full-time job, and I'm spending half of that abroad before I come back to look for an apartment and prepare to enter the working world. It won't be as spendy as my last vacation because I've learned to better manage my finances. At the same time, I do balance the budgeting against how it will probably be my last opportunity to take a major trip for quite some time. 

I'm far from the first person to have learned a few lessons about the possible applicability of minimalism to one's closet during international travel. When I went to Europe last summer, I packed a US-sized carryon (which I belatedly learned might be larger than an international-sized carryon) quite lightly, with a good amount of room to spare, and found that I'd actually brought too much. I kept cycling back to half of the items I packed: a quarter were unsuitable because I underestimated the heat, and I just didn't feel like wearing the rest. It is premature to start planning my packing list for my next trip, but I did learn a few lessons last summer about how to pack for hot-weather vacations. 

Some of these tips might be commonsense, but I was a fairly experienced traveler (having spent several long stints in very hot, very humid  East Asian summers) before my trip last year and some of these were a surprise to me. Another recent post on the topic from another blog can be found here

Packing Tips for Travel in Hot and Humid Climates (in rough order of importance):
  • You need fewer clothes than you think. I haven't quite figured out a perfect formula for how much to bring, but if I had realized how many times I could comfortably re-wear the breezier, swim cover-up type pieces, I would have packed less. 
  • Bring enough sunscreen. I'm always slightly shocked at how marked-up sunscreen can be in resort-y destinations. Also, if you have a preference for higher SPFs, those can be more difficult to find in some parts of the world. For instance, products with SPFs of 8 were rather common in Europe and the highest SPFs were generally in the 30s. (It might not be scientifically necessary, but I personally prefer SPFs in the 50s. I'm also very particular about facial sunscreen.) 
  • Avoid polyester. I learned this the hard way when even skimpy polyester dresses and tank tops proved to be highly uncomfortable. Pack mainly natural fibers like cotton and silk if possible. I also find that viscose and modal seem fine in very hot weather. 
  • Avoid clothing made with too much material and be careful of linings (even cotton ones). I have a lovely heavily pleated and pin-tucked J. Crew skirt made entirely of light cotton fabric. However, I found it to be too heavy last summer despite the lining also being made of cotton. Maybe this is obvious, but sometimes lighter clothes are better.
  • Light summer-weight cotton sweaters and shawls might, however, still be useful. Some vacation destinations might involve sightseeing at temples that require covering up the shoulders. Urban destinations (Hong Kong especially) might involve long periods spent in heavily air-conditioned interiors.
  • Will you need a beach towel? In Europe and a past trip to Puerto Rico, where I stayed in a cheap hostel, packing a beach towel would have been extremely helpful, as they were heavily marked up. In Southeast Asia, many moderately priced hotels in beach areas happily provide beach towels. 

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