La Quinta, California: This is what was packed for a 15-night cruise through the Panama Canal (Los Angeles to Miami) in December with mostly-warm weather planned. No matter the weather, when the ship is out at sea, it is chilly in the evening outdoors, plus air conditioning in ship public spaces can be arctic. There was one hitch: we were flying back to LA from Miami, so had to comply with current TSA regulations. Everything was packed in a teeny 21-inch International-size carry-on suitcase, and a small duffle (personal item). I mostly wear black clothing, so chose white as the contrasting color for this trip (and threw-in a pink tank at the last minute). Everything can be mixed/matched. I packed for one week, and will be away just over two. Hopefully there will be minimal handwashing. Only items that are wrinkle-resistant were brought along. I will wear the bulkiest items to board the ship/plane.
Some information (TMI). Much of my clothing is less than a year old, as I have lost ~25 pounds since moving to SoCal. I always walk/jog, and golf quite a bit, but attribute the loss to not eating in a restaurant for 2+years. (My doc says I am good.) Now that we are once again going out a little, the weight has stabilized. (Insert sad face here.)
When my clothes became too large, I simply reordered my favorites in a smaller size. (Eileen Fisher washable crepe pants!) My philosophy is to own nice things, not too many, and to take care of them. (Except for handbags. Have as many handbags as you choose.) Like I have previously mentioned, every item of clothing I own can fit in (my half) of our RV closet.
SUITCASE: Very old. My version is no longer available, but it has four spinner wheels and the "lid" opens only the top quarter, leaving the bottom 3/4's roomy. It is expandable, but then it would need to be checked. Mine is Briggs & Riley, cream colored. Well, it was cream-colored. Quite beat-up these days - and it has never been checked! See similar here.
PERSONAL ITEM BAG: Louis Vuitton CarryAll. Light-weight duffle, sized to fit under airline seat. This bag is quite old, but well-loved and used often as an overnight bag for trips to Los Angeles.
Here is the list. Starred * items were worn while boarding the ship/airplane (they are the bulkiest).
1. Misook Black & White Stripe Tank - since it was predicted to be in the 80s every day, I packed two tank tops. Each can be paired with a white or black cardigan, and white or black pants.
2. Misook Classic Knit Tank - Pink - okay, I needed some color! Pink is my favorite color and it favors my skin-tone. This tank is nice with black or white pants.
3. Nic+Zoe Black & White stripe long-sleeve tee. Light-weight and kinda crinkle-looking already. Surprisingly, this did not wash-up well in the bathroom sink, no idea why.
4. Wool& black 100% merino tee shirt. My favorite tee.
5. Banana Republic black v-neck merino sweater*. Wore on embarkation and plane ride home, and several evenings on the ship with black ankle pants. This sweater is very light-weight.
1. Black Eileen Fisher ankle-length washable stretch crepe pant* - my favorite fabric/pant! They do not wrinkle or stretch-out, can be hand washed, last for years and years and years. At home, I wash inside-out in cold water, delicate, and hang to dry.
2. Eileen Fisher high waisted washable stretch crepe slim pant - Black. Had them hemmed to a crop-length. See above for my rave on this fabric.
3. JJill Pure Jill Affinity Slim-leg white crops - my favorite golf pants. Also pack well and have pockets.
4. RipSkirt Hawaii - These skirts are fabulous. Completely packable, do not wrinkle, dry very quickly. Secure Velcro closure, pockets. They come in so many colors, prints, and in 4 lengths. The skirt I brought is in a black & white print (no longer available), length 3 (just below my knee).
1. Misook Black Sheath Dress - this is a another re-purchase in a smaller size. My most favorite dress of all time. Since I am so short, this dress is below-knee length, and I love the sleeve length as well. Packs like a dream. I wore this dress most evenings on the ship with sling-back heels - just switched out the jewelry/scarf. No one noticed/cared. Even DT.
2. Wool& Cora Tee-Shirt dress - black. This Portland company has become another of my favorites. I have three of their dresses and two tee shirts. They sell 100% merino, or a blend. I pretty-much wore this dress every-third day. It is just a tee shirt dress, and is casual with sandals or white sneakers. In the evening, with a blingy necklace or scarf, and a slingback shoe, it can be dressy. Wool& have a 100 Day Challenge - if you wear one of their dresses for 100 days in a row, they send you $100 gift card. I have followed several Instagrammers/bloggers who have done this, and know of one woman who took ONLY a Wool& dress for a two-week European trip, wore it every day and washed it once. Wish I could be so brave. Merino is so great!
HANDBAGS: (My problem area, I want to bring 10 purses!)
1. Longchamp Le Pliage Cuir small crossbody. This adorable leather bag is teeny, but will work for a night-out, or a quick trip to the grocer. I used it while walking/exercising on the ship to hold my phone, earbud case, and key card, etc., and several evenings on the ship. It has a clever little slip pocket under the front flap perfectly sized to discreetly hold room key card, ID, credit cards, and folded cash. Inside the zipper main compartment, there is enough room for a phone, reading glasses, hankie, hand sanitizer and a mask. This bag was the packing cube for my swimsuit.
2. Longchamp Le Pliage Cuir - black lambskin crossbody. I used this bag on excursion days. Medium-sized, with a secure zip-top. Provided additional room for my camera, notebook, and a bottle of water. I wish I would have just brought my medium-sized old-school Le Pliage bag instead of the leather version. The older styles (in nylon-ish fabric) are lighter-weight, though with a shoulder strap, not a cross-body. Both bags have a top-zip closure. Also, the older Le Pliage bags have just one useless slip pocket, while the newer versions have two, larger, semi-useful slip pockets. Le Pliage bags fold/snap closed, so easy to pack, and weight nothing.
3. Louis Vuitton Boulogne - in monogram with black leather trim. A re-make of an older-style LV bag, from the ‘80s, with the same name. Also available in natural-leather trim. A great day bag as well as evening. Seems small, but it holds a lot. Leather strap adjusts cleverly from shoulder-to-crossbody. Also has a gold chain strap. Both straps are removable. One inside flap pocket. I did not wear this bag onshore, but carried it most evenings, using only the gold chain strap. (Leo likes to wear the gold chain as a necklace!) I stored my tech gear (cables, cords, etc.) inside the bag during travel.
1. Naot Norah sandal - black leather. Another of my favorite brands. Super-light-weight, yet with arch support. Velcro fastenings. Packs small. Made in Israel. I wore this shoe most days, and most days at home as well.
2. Naturalizer Banks sling-back with pointed toe - black leather. Very cute and stylish, but with a lower (torn meniscus-friendly) heel. Works with pants or dresses. Really cute with ankle-length pants. My go-to nearly every evening; a few evenings I wore a ballet flat.
3. Sam Edelman Felicia ballet flat - not a lot of support, but they are comfortable, stylish and extremely light-weight/packable. Wear with dresses or pants/capri. Also served as slippers on this trip.
4. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus* - my usual running shoe, but in a currently-fashion-forward all-white. I wore the Pegasus while exercising on board, and on most trips off the ship. Thankfully, I wore the Pegasus while traipsing around the ancient cobblestones of Antigua, Guatemala.
1. Nic + Zoe Back of the Chair long cardigan. White. Had this for several years. Really light-weight and packs like a dream. This is the only item I did not wear, even once, on the trip.
2. Eileen Fisher Black merino long open-front cardi* - mine is very old, but this link is similar. Light-weight, yet keeps me warm. Only wore this on travel days. Miami Airport was like a freezer, so was happy to have it. Never wore it on the cruise.
TECH GEAR: most of this went into the tote
2. Apple Magic Keyboard - with case to prop-up my iPad
3. iPhone 11 Pro
4. Solis hotspot
5. USB charger strip (4 ports) - Note: power strips with surge protection are not allowed on most cruise ships. (Random knowledge.)
Underwear/bras, work-out gear & socks, nightie, handkerchiefs, Sheets Laundry Club detergent strips for hand-washing, jewelry, a few scarves, swimsuit, make-up, toiletries (in TSA-safe bag), two small needlework projects - many "at sea" days on this cruise. Books, magazines, and books-on-tape loaded in my iPad/iPhone. DT carried a small pair of binoculars.
The clothing went (rolled) into two packing cubes. Undies into a very small compression bag. The cubes and shoes went into the lower portion of the suitcase. Everything else went to the upper zipped portion. Somehow it all fit. I brought my rollable hat, but after wearing it the first time in Cabo, realized it was way too hot and humid and sweaty to wear a hat, and never wore it again. I probably needed only one tank top, and wished I would have brought my teeny laptop (Vaio) instead of the iPad Mini and keyboard. Next time! My blog is easier to work-on via the laptop, and the photo editing software is much better on my laptop - terrible on the iPad. I sent both pair of black crepe pants, and the white crops, out for laundering half-way through the voyage. $6 each.
Next holiday, no matter how long I will be away, I'm packing for four days. Also thinking the new iPhone 14 has enough megapixels, I won't even need to bring a camera? The only other solution is to sail on nudist cruises (like the ship comedian joked about), and that's just not happening.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. Would love to hear your comments and learn your packing hacks. Please comment below.
Until my next update, I remain, your unpacked correspondent.
* worn while boarding ship/plane