summer travel: lyon and provence

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it’s research – really!

My husband travels to Europe periodically for work and research. Sometimes (not always, darn it) I get to go along and “help” by taking photos, being a second set of ears and eyes, etc. Someone has to do it, right?

This time I joined him for a quick visit to Germany to see good friends and then on to Lyon and the Provence region of France for the research. I know, it’s a shame.

When we travel, abroad or in the US, I do my own research. Style trends are different everywhere you go, and I find it endlessly fascinating to people watch and take in what people are wearing, what’s in the shop windows, and what you can find new-to-you. I especially love French fashion – the casual elegance is inspiring.

travel light

We stayed in Lyon for five days and then went on to Provence for four. We were gone two weeks total, and I did do laundry once in our Airbnb apartment (one of the many perks of renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel). It’s super important to travel light, especially when you are moving from place to place. It just bogs you down to have too much stuff to lug around on trains or even when renting a car.

I do the travel capsule approach when packing for a trip like this, making sure that everything goes together so I can wear things several times in different ways. You’ll see in the outfit pics below that I wore my white jeans with several different tops, and the lightweight neutral cardigan ended up being a mainstay – the weather fluctuated a lot and was cooler than expected.

 

I brought very little jewelry on this trip and nothing of great value except for my wedding rings. This pendant necklace is graphically simple, so it pairs with a lot of things. I wore the oxfords frequently because they are super comfortable for a lot of walking.

lyon

 

The shop windows in Lyon are stunning. Seeing the beautiful fabrics, designs, and attention to detail gives me so many ideas of ways to put things together and to have fun with my wardrobe (and yours!). A hands-down favorite were the patchwork pants at Atelier Yukako, an independent designer. So beautiful and whimsical!

 

I did purchase a couple of new items in our travels. These pink Haflinger comfort sandals live up to their name – I walked at least 7-8 miles on this day, and I was so glad I had them on! I picked them up in Munich for half the cost you would pay for them in the US, and I love the color and design. I’ll be wearing these for a long time.

The new-to-me Fossil cross-body bag was really great for keeping things organized in all its zippered pockets and comfortable for carrying all day. It’s nice to be hands-free for taking pictures and browsing the markets and shops.

 

Lyon has a good number of resale clothing (dépôt-vente de vêtements) shops. I checked out four on this trip – two had many interesting pieces, one had only about 30 very high-end pieces (not sure how the shop could survive), and the last (Frip’&Cheap) was very much like a thrift shop. My dream is to someday move to France and open a consignment shop – who’s with me?!

 

I struggled a little with temperature regulation (um, being prone to hot flashes and dramatic weather swings do not mix – at all). The weather kept changing in Lyon – it would be in the 60s and rainy/super humid and then 80 degrees. It kept swinging back and forth, so I was glad to have layers. I wore a sleeveless top and then wore the neutral cardigan or a sweater tied around my shoulders. I know I missed the brutal week of heat in Minnesota, so I’m not complaining (much)!

 

If you ever have opportunity, go to Lyon. This was our fourth visit, and I love it. Even more than Paris. It is gorgeous, the food is amazing, and the people are delightful. Just go.

provence

We rented a car and headed to Provence, ending up in the Bandol region on the Mediterranean. We visited a street market, tasted wine at a vineyard, ate at cafés, and soaked it all up. Glorious!

 

This dress was another retail purchase – I found it at a shop in Lyon and couldn’t resist the sweet beach umbrella print and breezy, summer style. It brings me a lot of joy and is classic in design, so won’t go out of style. I know I’ll wear it at least 30 times!

 

We stayed in an old Provençal villa with a lovely view and a donkey next door who greeted the day exuberantly each morning – at a reasonable hour, so it made me smile.

 

One day we went to Bandol, right on the coast, and took a ferry to the island Bendor. It was a hot day, so I was glad for this very lightweight sundress. Sundresses are great for travel, because they don’t take up a lot of space, and they are effortless polish. If you need to cover your shoulders for warmth or for going into a religious institution, tie a sweater  or throw a lightweight scarf around them.

 

The bay was gorgeous, and the sleepy pace was just what we needed. So beautiful.

 

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. The lightweight cardigan was perfect for the plane (both ways) – I paired it with athleisure pants, a tank, and sneakers. Super comfortable and the cardigan added a little polish.

My friend in Munich gave me this hilarious tote bag – the translation is “I have to go into the city to buy something for my headache – shoes…or something.” It turned out to be a lifesaver, because of the shoes (and other things) I bought! My suitcase was filled to the brim – I turned it into my “personal item” for carrying on the plane along with my huge tote bag. Again, travel light so you have room to bring things home!

 

 

 

spring break travel capsule

My best friend from high school, Meredith, and I both marked our 50th birthdays this past year. To celebrate, we’re going to HAWAII!!! It’s been a bucket list destination of mine, and we leave on Sunday for a week of stunning natural beauty, sunshine, beaches, and VOLCANOES. Can. Not. Wait.

Meredith and I in high school. Let’s just say some of my 80s fashion choices and my fascination with perms were unfortunate and leave it at that.

So, what to bring?

warm weather travel capsule for a carry-on

I like to travel light and not check bags. A travel capsule is the perfect solution.

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1. two swimsuits

At a beach destination, you definitely want two swimsuits. I prefer bikinis, and a lightweight cover-up shirt or a skirt with a tank makes transitions from beach to other activities easy. Flip-flops are a must!

2. sunscreen

Every single thing I’ve read about Hawaii emphasizes how important sunscreen is because the UV rays are so intense there. “A sunburn will wreck your trip.” I bought a 3-ounce bottle of waterproof sunscreen so I could put it in my carry-on and be ready to hit the beach right away. I’ll buy more sunscreen there.

Tip: look for sunscreen with no oxybenzone – an ingredient that stains fabrics and is harmful to coral reefs!

 3. water shoes

I plan to see a sea turtle up close and personal (again, bucket list), and water shoes allow you to scrabble around easily in the ocean when snorkeling.

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4./5. shorts and shirts

This is where I’m most using the capsule approach – I made sure that I can mix and match my shorts and shirts to make multiple outfits with them. One shirt is long-sleeved in case it is a cooler day or evening.

6. comfortable sandals

We’ll be doing a lot of exploring, so I’m bringing sandals that I know will be comfortable for walking.

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7. sturdy shoes for hiking and longer walking

When we hike the volcanoes and craters in Volcanoes National Park, we’ll need more structured shoes. These are super comfy and lightweight, so they’ll be good for other uses as well.

Tip: Wear your bulkiest shoes on travel days to make more space in your carry-on.

8. small backpack, weather gear, and camera

When a vacation includes outdoor adventures, I always bring my small backpack – it’s old, but works great for taking a water bottle, sunscreen, hat, camera, and other necessities to the beach or hiking. It rains almost every day in Hawaii (just a little most of the time!), so I’ve got an umbrella and lightweight rain jacket.

Tip: if your raincoat doesn’t have a built-in pocket pouch, zip it, fold longways, and roll it into the hood. (Learned this from my awesome outdoor gear expert nephew!)

9. athletic wear for hiking and active adventures

It’s hot in Hawaii (can’t wait to ditch the parka!), so cool clothing will be great for hiking.

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10. sundress and maxi-dress

We’ll enjoy the local restaurants, and maybe even go to a luau, so it’s nice to have a sundress or two.

11. lightweight sweater and shawl scarf

If the evenings get cool, I’ll wrap a lightweight sweater or scarf around my shoulders. This sweater can also be worn with shorts or thrown on over anything, if needed.

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12. utilize all the nooks and crannies of your carry-on

I pack as tightly as possible in my carry-on – filling in every little gap with socks, underwear, etc. And I use every pocket on the suitcase. The side zip-pocket has a pair of sandals in it! I’ll also bring a tote bag to carry my camera, books, purse, and travel sundries.

Visit my Facebook page next week for pics of Meredith and me on our grand adventure!

 Aloha!

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!