Announcement! It's not long until we go on our biggest (or, at least, furthest away) adventure yet:
We. Are. Headed. To.
We couldn't be more excited. Our close friend is from Beijing, so we'll have a guide/translator the entire time, which is so rare and special.
But this kind of trip also brings with it a lot of details (Visas? Passports? Tickets? Vaccines?) and a lot of stress. Anxiety is creeping up the back of my neck, and the last thing I want to worry about is what I'm going to wear while I'm seeing the opposite side of our beautiful world.
The best weapon I've found to prevent anxiety (not necessarily treat it) is to get organized, without getting obsessive. That's where the uniform comes in.
I already operate on a uniform system for the most part. I talked about it in a post from this past fall, but if you're not familiar, choosing a uniform is simply figuring out which combinations of outfits work the best, then basing most of your outfits on that formula. For instance: skinnies + booties + loose tank or sandals + cotton shorts + easy cardigan and cami.
So I thought, why not apply the same idea to travel?
The requirements for one are the same as the other, for the most part. Here's what I'll need from my wardrobe for my trip:
And not just for the flight itself. I like to be comfortable in whatever I'm wearing, but this is even more true while I'm travelling. We will be walking tons, so I'll be especially careful about my shoe choices.
I'm packing for two weeks, so I'm going to need to do laundry while I'm over there. I also want to pack light, because I'll probably want to bring a few things back (gobs of tea, anyone?), and I don't want any hassle in the airports with my baggage weight. So I'm going to be packing versatile, interchangeable pieces that work in lots of combinations.
TRAVEL TIP: There are often washers in China, but dryers are nearly non-existent there. Everyone hang-dries their laundry, so consider packing some clothespins and string in case you need to hang your clothes in your hotel room while you're out exploring.
China in the summer can get well into the 90's Fahrenheit, especially in the middle of big, bustling cities. I'll be keeping this in mind as I pack mostly shorts and tanks, but I'll be sure to throw in a pair of jeans and a cardigan just in case.
With all this in mind, I've put together some preliminary ideas on items I know will go together and make me feel great, too (this is all a little easier since I already have an efficient, capsule-inspired wardrobe where most things go together anyway).
My basic travel uniform will be shorts + tank / tee + sandals.
It's so simple, it almost seems silly to write it out.
But each of those pieces are ones that fit me, look right, don't bulge in the wrong places, are comfortable, etc. Each one has been curated over time, making this entire process so much less anxiety-inducing.
I've started with 14 items for 14 days (this legitimately just worked out that way when I added up the pieces I wanted to bring - no lie), though there may be more or less in my suitcase once we pack it all in. I'll let you know. Here they all are:
(most of these links are to similar, ethically made items, as I'm pulling from the items I already have for this trip)
khaki shorts | graphic tee | striped tank
grey tee | skinny jeans | burnt orange shorts
denim shorts | striped tee | black sleeveless dress
black boxy tee | light pink cardigan | heathered tank
Birkenstocks | black flats
Thoughts on the essentials (other than clothes):
The biggest question for me here is what bag I plan to use. There are some serious security questions there, since China apparently boasts some of the best pick-pocketers in the world, and I will be an obvious prime target. Here is what I've decided to try, and I'll let you know how it works out when I get back.
I'm planning to be minimal in other areas, too, like toiletries and beauty supplies. When it comes to makeup, I'll bring some concealer, mascara, and chapstick (my basic day-to-day setup). For hair, I'll take some shampoo, conditioner, maybe a small hairspray, and my straightening iron (which I can use to either curl or straighten my hair - two it one!)
TRAVEL TIP: China, along with many other countries, has a few types of plugs that differ from the USA, and they use a higher voltage. It's wise to do some research and bring a voltage converter like this one with you or your hair dryer will probably fry! Note that I found several products that, at first glance, seemed cheaper than this, but after checking online reviews and digging a bit more, I found that even reputable brands will use the term "converter" and say their product "transforms electricity," but that is not a voltage converter. It's just a plug adapter, which makes your device fit the foreign plug but does nothing to convert the voltage. "Transforming electricity" doesn't mean anything except allowing it to flow as is. They're just trying to swindle you, and your hairdryer will still fry.
The basic idea? Keep it simple and minimal.
So here's to packing! Here's to taking a deep breath and thinking it through. Here's to lists and flexibility meeting in the middle.