Which kind of summer vacationer are you: mountain, beach, or glittering metropolis? Lake, ocean, or infinity pool? If you’re really fortunate, the answer is all of the above.
With summer getaways in full swing, we here at Dandelion Chandelier thought this was the perfect time to share our collective packing tips for the perfect luxury vacation. In this series, we’ll cover four types of iconic summer trips that jet-setters are inclined to take: a rugged-chic mountain vacation; a sojourn at the beach; a stay at a farmhouse or country estate; and an urban idyll filled with culture and fine dining. (If you’re staying at the home of a friend or family member, check out our guide to the perfect host or hostess gift.)
First up, mountains, lakes, wild rivers and any other vacation that takes you into the wilderness: the Rockies, the Alps, the Adirondacks, the Dolomites, the lower slopes of the Himalayas, Patagonia, and maybe even Mongolia.
A rugged landscape calls for sturdier, sportier, more rustic attire than a beach or city vacation. Think about how you used to pack for summer camp – and do that, but with more panache. Here’s how to get packed and get going in 10 easy steps:
1. Finalize your itinerary. Depending upon how active you’re planning to be, you’ll need to start by packing the required gear for hiking, fly fishing, white water rafting, horseback riding, boating, kayaking, mountain biking, cycling, and other outdoor pursuits.
2. Choose your color palette. In preparation for our recent vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we looked at photos of our destination beforehand, to see what it made us feel in terms of color. We quickly decided to blend in with the natural hues of the landscape: the blue of the sky and the lakes; the dark green of the fir trees; and the sandy-khaki color of the soil. Three “anchor” colors is plenty for a week-long trip, but we tossed in a secondary color palette of yellow (inspired by wildflowers) and white (because its summer!). We could also have gone with black or any shade of purple as our secondary colors – maybe next time.
3. Conduct a treasure hunt in your closet. With our color palette firmly in mind, we pulled everything that caught our eye from our closets and drawers, and started playing around. Who says packing can’t be fun? Cool new color combinations revealed themselves to us: things we’ve owned for years but wouldn’t have worn together suddenly felt just right. Navy and forest green make a gorgeous pairing – white and anything in the brown family is calming, and allows you to disappear into the scenery if you desire. Yellow and blue are a classic pairing, but we played around the entire trip with different match-ups. If you pack the right palette, everything goes with everything.
4. Pack layers, layers and more layers. Temperatures are going to be a lot more variable if you’re moving between the summit of a mountain and a valley than if you’re tooling around a tropical island. So you’ll need lots of layers that don’t add too much bulk. We ended up starting our days in Wyoming before sunrise, when it’s pretty chilly – bring your favorite lightweight jacket or cardigan, and expect to shed it mid-morning.
5. “Summer” leather is your friend. It can also get really chilly in the mountains once the sun starts to set, so a light-colored light-weight leather jacket is a great companion when you’re out to dinner. You can look like a cool kid while not shaking with cold.
6. Bring a sturdy hat with a brim and a chic backpack. Leave the huge-brimmed chic floppy beach hat at home, and opt for something sturdier and more functional. We resisted the urge to rock cowboy hats – too City Slickers – and found that most visitors – in Jackson Hole, at least – get by with baseball caps. Extra points if yours is from your ultra-luxurious hotel or your alma mater. A designer backpack is both chic and functional – toss in a clutch for evenings out.
7. Keep the jewelry and makeup to a minimum. If you don’t need it at the gym, you probably don’t need it during the day on a vacation like this. Bring simple jewelry for evenings out, and don’t be overly-embellished – perhaps go with brushed metallics. Natural makeup is perfect – don’t try to compete with the drama of the landscape.
8. Give yourself two days of packing time, if you can. Day 1 is when you pack as much as you can. Day 2 is when you edit, take things out, and adjust. You’ve got much better odds of packing light if you give yourself time to sleep on it. Just as it takes much longer to write a short tightly-argued essay than a long sprawling one (we know this from personal experience), it takes a lot longer to pack lighter than it does to just throw stuff in a bag. But it’s worth it.
9. Think about what you want to read on the plane, and what you want to read at your destination. For us, these are 2 different things. On the plane, we like to read non-fiction essays – like The New Yorker – something we can nibble at while we’re hanging at the gate, waiting to take off, right before or after a nap on the flight. Upon arrival, we love novels. One of the great joys of vacation is reading, dozing off, and then reading some more. Plan accordingly.
10. Don’t forget your comfort object. Even on vacation, it’s nice to bring something from home that is familiar and soothing. We bring our own bedroom slippers because putting them on is instantly relaxing. Many of our female friends have a cashmere shawl that they curl up in on the plane, and that does double duty as a blanky at their final destination.
Here are a few closing insider tips that we’ve picked up over the years:
–Mixed metals are great for travel: we have a pair of David Yurman hoop earrings that are half gold and half silver. Ditto for an LV bracelet we found years ago. Excellent way to cheat.
–Classic Chanel shoes can lighten your packing load: any Chanel shoe (ballet flat, slingback, pump, or bootie) that is half black and half “nude” will literally go with everything. If you only have room for one pair of shoes, make it one of those.
–It’s all about balance: If you’re trying to pack light, make your shoes interesting and your clothes basic and solid-colored. Or vice versa. Just not both.
That’s it! You’re on your way. Have fun.
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