Top Tips for Packing Light

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Out to lunch in Philadelphia

We've gone to one of our most trusted travel resources--mom travel blogs--for advice on traveling in style. Mara Gorman, Editor of www.motherofalltrips.com has given us her " Top Tips for Packing Light (and Looking Great) When Traveling With Kids."

For many years when I traveled with my children, I used them as an excuse. Why even bother to try and pack lightly with all the gear that they needed? But now that they are 9 and 6 and really don'??t need much (in fact my older son pretty much wears one t-shirt all the time) I realized that traveling with five pairs of shoes and jumbo bottles of shampoo just wasn'??t going to cut it anymore and I reformed my ways. Once I changed my attitude, looking good while getting dressed from a carry on became my favorite challenge. Here are my top tips for doing just that:

Three key words: Cardigans, dresses, and embellished t'??s. (Actually that'??s four words, but who'??s counting?) I love to pack a couple of dresses when I travel because they are easy all-in-one outfits that you can add to or subtract from multiple times during a trip. My favorites are sleeveless shifts which I can wear with shirts underneath during the day or on their own in the evening. Cardigans are wonderful because they dress up even casual outfits, can be worn with or without belts, and keep you warm. And I like to bring a few t-shirts with interesting details that go just as nicely with jeans or leggings during the day as with a nice skirt and necklace for an evening out.

Accessories are your best friends. You can wear the same clothes repeatedly, but with different accessories you'??ll feel like you'??re putting on something new each day. I never travel without at least two necklaces, two belts (one of them dressy and maybe even with a little bling for evening), and two scarves. And while we'??re at it, go crazy with the earrings '?? I'??ve been known to pack as many as fifteen pairs so I have different ones to wear every day.

Don'??t pack things you won'??t wear. This may seem like an obvious statement, but you'??d be surprised how often I get home and find two or three things at the bottom of my suitcase that I didn'??t wear at all either because I don'??t really like them, they aren'??t comfortable, or they weren'??t appropriate for the climate or setting (I do need to acknowledge that a certain amount of my time is going to be spent in parks and playgrounds). One way to make sure you'??ll really wear everything you have is to do some serious editing before you leave. I always lay all my clothes on the bed and make sure that every piece I'??m packing has a partner piece that I can wear it with. And once I have my piles of clothes complete, I always remove a couple of items because I know my instinct is to bring more than I need.


Mara Gorman from The Mother of All Trips

Neutral is good. So is color. My general principal is to split the difference top and bottom. Bottoms are neutral shades of black, navy, khaki, or white and tops and accessories have color. And I always bring a black sweater that can take me to the playground or an elegant dinner in a matter of hours and that won'??t show the licorice ice cream stain.

Invest in travel sizes and portable products. I can'??t tell you how often I'??ve traveled with full-sized bottles of shampoo '?? enough that they should revoke my travel-blogging license. I recently bit the bullet and invested in travel sizes of all my favorite products including makeup. I even found that the perfume I like comes in a travel bottle with a roll top that doesn'??t spill. When I travel I'??m also a fan of things that come in wipe and stick form '?? especially sunscreen.

Pack your most versatile shoes. I'??m not one for wearing running shoes while I'??m on vacation with my kids (unless we'??re going to be hiking) but I also don'??t think it makes sense to pack two-inch heels either. I try to split the difference and find two pairs of attractive, comfortable, low-heeled shoes that I can wear all day and still stand by nightfall. For last summer'??s travel that was a pair of flat, orange gladiator sandals that took me everywhere. I'??ve also been known to live in a pair of metallic flats. (And if this means you have to go shoe shopping before your next trip, well, you'??re welcome.)

Inside a dinsoaur fooprint Oxford

Have a stain-removal plan. I'??m a huge fan of stain sticks and carry them with me everywhere to treat the inevitable handprints and stains that seem to accumulate like magic when I'??m with my boys. I also pack mostly clothes that can be laundered and try to stay in rental properties with laundry facilities or hotels that offer laundry service. Although in a pinch, I'??ve been known to wash clothes using shampoo in the sink so that I can look good and feel fresh the next day.

Take care of yourself. It'??s easy as a mom to think about everyone else when you are packing and then throw your own things together in a rush. With a little bit of planning, there'??s no reason you can'??t take some time before you go to make sure you have comfortable, stylish clothes that will help you feel great about how you look.

Mara Gorman has been traveling (stylishly) with her two sons for nearly nine years to destinations ranging from California to Paris. Last summer they spent two weeks in England with only carry-on luggage. She blogs about family travel at The Mother of All Trips. Follow her on twitter @motherofalltrip

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