|A maxi-dress is usually an excellent choice for air travel - this one, not so much - find out why below... Dress (INC, Macy's); Hat (9 West, Macy's); Switchflops) (Incidentially, it's not your screen that's dusty - this picture has a ridiculous amount of "orbs" in it - either my lens was filthy or the air was full of dust motes...)|
I consider myself to be a pretty savvy traveler. I'm fortunate to have visited a lot of places, both domestic and internationally, and I've learned quite a few first-hand "lessons" along the way, particularly with respect to air travel. For example, if your carry-on luggage contains a Walker, Texas Ranger toy gun and badge that you bought for your little brother while visiting a friend in Houston, armed airport security will come running when your bag is x-rayed.
Likewise, if you get married and change your name between the issuance of your passport and the issuance of your airline ticket to another country, you may be detained upon arrival, interrogated at length, and required to have someone back home fax a copy of your marriage license to the airport. In a similar vein, if you visit the US embassy while in said foreign country to have the name on your passport officially changed, you should not let a brand new employee mark out your maiden name with an ink pen. That is not the correct process, and having a big blue ink mark through your last name will cause further scrutiny and delays any time you use your passport thereafter.
I've also learned that if you are traveling alone and need to use mass public transportation to take you from the airport to your accommodations, you should not be hauling more bags than you can comfortably maneuver without assistance. Even if you're going to be working from your destination for 3 months, you will regret the choice to bring 13 pairs of shoes, 5 purses, and 4 jackets of similar weight when you are pushing, pulling and dragging multiple bags to the train station, where busy commuters will snicker behind your back as you struggle to load all of them before the rigidly scheduled train leaves the station.
It was the latter experience that drove home, for me, the importance of packing light. It also drove home the importance of a rolling suitcase (or cases), preferably the kind with four wheels that move in any direction (which you can push in front of or alongside you and easily balance smaller bags on top, while the two wheeled versions must be pulled behind you). That hunter green duffel bag set with cognac saddle leather trim that I received as a college graduation gift may have matched my Jeep Wrangler and looked incredibly rugged and cool, but lugging it around was no picnic. Four-wheeled luggage changed my travel life.
Learning to pack light has also made the process of air travel much more pleasant (not to mention saved me a lot of money now that airlines charge for every piece of checked baggage). Of course, packing light means you may have to limit your wardrobe options more than you otherwise would, and put a bit more effort into mix and match ensembles. However, on a trip to San Diego a few years ago, I also discovered Switchflops. For warm-weather holiday travel, Switchflops are the greatest thing since sliced bread (or at least since the invention of the four-wheeled rolling suitcase). These ingenious shoes with interchangeable straps let you create a multitude of looks to match every outfit, but only take up the space of a single pair (or two, if you're like me and buy both a black and a neutral base pair). On our recent holiday in France, I wore a different pair of shoes every day, but they took up almost no space in my luggage! Et voila!
But, for all my travel cockiness, I'm still learning. For my recent 9 hour international flight to Europe, I decided to wear a maxi-dress. It's as comfortable as my pjs but doesn't look sloppy; never wrinkles; and would take up very little room in my suitcase on the return trip. I paired it with my Switchflops, which are easy to slip on and off when going through airport security. And, to keep it from taking up space and being crushed in my suitcase, I wore the wide-brimmed sun hat that I knew I'd need for the South of France (you can also save space in your bag and protect your hats from getting crushed by stuffing them with your pajamas or t-shirts that you are taking anyway, and which either don't wrinkle or you won't mind if they do). A large, neutral beach bag doubled as my purse, so it was roomy enough to store my iPad, a lightweight fleece blanket (because planes are always cold), my passport, etc. The perfect travel ensemble...with one major flaw. I failed to recognize that the small, silver metal studs scattered throughout the pattern on the dress would set off the metal detector at airport security! What's more, I learned that a Fitbit will also set off the metal detector. Both of these were minor issues, but they nevertheless caused delay and hassle in my usually effortless glide through the airport to the nearest Auntie Anne's pretzel stand. More lessons learned!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
I've also blogged about air travel issues in these posts: