what to pack: a week of upper-90s in Washington, DC

Last week my family traveled to Washington, DC, because my daughter Grace was competing in National History Day (NHD). She won First Place in the Junior Research Paper category at the Minnesota State Competition in April, which earned her a spot in the national competition – super exciting, and we were over the moon!

The weather forecast was for upper-90s all week, and – for once – it was completely accurate. What to pack when it’s going to be blistering hot for a week, and you know you will be touring outside for much of the time?

beat the heat

I almost always travel with only a carry-on roller bag, and this time was no exception. Since I knew that I needed to focus on staying cool, I packed several summer dresses, a pair of shorts, one skirt, one sleeveless blouse, one t-shirt, 3 pairs of sandals, and two pairs of sneakers. (I know – a lot of shoes, but these are what give you choices for dressing up or down and comfort for a lot of walking.) I also added a lightweight scarf to throw on in case I got cold in air-conditioned museums, which came in very handy.

On the travel days, I wore cropped jeans, because I always freeze on the plane. I used my scarf on the way there – I would have been shivering in the sleeveless blouse without it.

To see photo captions, hover over the bottom of the photo or click on it to enlarge.

 

keepin’ it real

I often hear from my clients that they chose me and enjoy working with me because I am a “real” person, not super trendy or focused on being a fashionista. And that makes me really happy, because what I do is to help people feel authentic in expressing their personal style and feel great while they’re at it.

As you can see from the photos, I’m definitely keeping it real. When it’s over 90 degrees by 10 AM, the level of dishevelment progresses quickly! I have an appreciation for all those fashion/travel bloggers who curate their photos to perfection – we would have had to spend the entire week working on just that, but that’s not why we were there. So, here’s to living real life!

So, it was hot. SO. HOT. You can see the flush on our faces and, yes, the heat was radiating off the pavement in full force! Dresses were the way to go – cool and breezy.

awkward turtle

I’m a reluctant photographic subject. I LOVE being the photographer, but put me in front of the camera, and I go stiff as a board. Grace was my trusty “outfit of the day” photographer on this trip, and for some reason all the photos for this day’s shoot were looking really, really awkward (it was me, not the photographer). Grace’s teacher had just taught us the awkward turtle the day before, so I did it to try to relax – it was the only photo that worked! Again, keepin’ it real, people.

ndwc_ootd awkward turtle

Awkward Turtle and the US Capitol

ndwc_g and mr history

Grace, much less awkward, conferring with Minnesota’s Mr. History before her interview with the NHD judges. Her paper is “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Standing Up for Women, Science, and the Environment.”

 

nevertheless, she persisted

Grace and I got these shirts before our trip, and we thought the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was an appropriate place for the message. This memorial was really powerful – the artist captured the significance of Dr. King’s place in history in a moving way.

A really big bonus – we saw Senator Elizabeth Warren in one of the Senate Buildings the following day! Both Grace’s teacher and I were starstruck and speechless!

ndwc_ootd mlk memorial

ndwc_nsp selfie

Love my girl.

 

 

 

ndwc_capitol dome

US Capitol from a tunnel used by our representatives.

national history day

Grace won second place in her category for the national competition!! It was so exciting to see our daughter recognized in such a way for her hard work, determination, and you better believe it, persistence!

ndwc_nhd parade of sates.JPG

National History Day Parade of States – the large gaggle of students wearing maroon is Minnesota!

 

ndwc_airport

And she was tired.

 

 

how to: packing light

my 9-day trip with only a carry-on roller bag and tote

This summer my family took a trip to Northern Michigan to visit family and to enjoy the gorgeous lakes and beaches, charming towns, and all around fun. I hate checking bags – not only because the airlines charge now (grrr) and there is the possibility of them getting misplaced, but also because large bags only bog you down when you are traveling. They make it harder to get from place to place, and honestly, you really don’t need that many clothes.

I always regret when I bring too many clothes, because they actually get in the way of enjoying the trip. Spending time figuring out what to wear takes away from time spent enjoying your vacation! And packing light forces you to put some thought into what you are taking so that you are sure to actually have clothing that works together to make outfits for the variety of activities you’ll be doing.

Here’s what I packed, along with how I made decisions for what to bring.

all clothes

The whole shebang (minus a raincoat in the outer pocket of my roller bag)

Last year I wrote the post summer travel capsule on putting together outfits for two weeks of travel. I followed the guidelines of that post when packing for this trip, but packed a couple more tops since I knew I’d be exercising and getting sweaty.

This trip was mostly casual outdoor activities – the only dressier thing we did was dine out at a nicer restaurant one night and at other casual restaurants. Otherwise, we were on the beach, going for hikes and walks, and exploring in town.

the basics: tops, bottoms, and shoes

(hover over bottom right corner of each photo to see captions or click to enlarge and see full captions)

mix and match: the key to packing light

Make sure all the tops go with all the bottoms to have plenty of outfit choices. You can wear things more than once (who will notice?) and still feel like you have variety.

pack for what you’ll be doing

Bring only what you will need – no “just in case” items that end up going unused. I had another blouse and a second dress that were originally in the mix, and I cut them because I knew I really didn’t need them.

swimsuits

much of our time was spent at the beach – #bikini rebellion!

exercise_athletic wear

walking, hiking, tennis, and knocking around

accessories

A few accessories are all you need to add polish to your outfits.

packing the suitcase

Maximize all the little crevices – I put socks inside shoes and roll up items I don’t care about getting wrinkled like pajamas, underwear, and exercise tanks to stuff in between other items. Do take care with the nicer items like dresses and blouses.

 

packed suitcase and travel outfit

packed with my travel outfit ready to go | the scarf is good for the plane if it’s cold – I put it on my legs!

the tote

I brought a large tote and a small handbag so I didn’t have to haul the large tote everywhere once at my destination. On a touring trip, I would bring a cross-body bag instead of the small handbag for safety and more storage.

The tote – dubbed the “75 lb bag” because it holds so much – fits under a plane seat, but lives up to its name. I can put my handbag, laptop and power pack, a book, my little liquids/gels toiletries bag, umbrella, water bottle and snacks, and more in the tote bag. I prop it on the roller bag as I move through the airport because it can get heavy if I have the computer with me.

So there you have it. We enjoyed our getaway, and I was happy with what was in my suitcase. I hope you have opportunity to have a little vacation time this last month of summer as well!

share your packing tips

What are your tricks for packing efficiently and effectively? Share in the comments below – I love to learn new ideas!