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Vacation must-haves

Categories: accessories, basics, dresses


I’m on vacation this week, which means that I’m pretty much just wearing a swimsuit all day long. Not bad, really.

My kids are finally old enough that the idea of a “family vacation” isn’t as much of an eye-roller any more. You know what I mean — when they’re wee and tiny, any journey with them isn’t a vacation in the purest sense but a road trip, one that necessitates hauling the entire nursery to the beach or the mountains or wherever it is that you will be “vacationing.” And then, once you’re there, doing all the parent things you do at home, but on the fly in a strange place.

I do not miss those days.

Screen shot 2010-06-29 at 5.38.28 AM
Regatta-stripe knit dress, Talbot’s, $79.50 currently $62.99

My sons are in the middle space of kid travel, the place where they can get their own breakfast and snacks and can swim safely without me even getting in the pool and can go off in the afternoon to read a book on their own, but where they still need an attentive adult to make sure that they’re actually eating healthy food once in a while and putting sunscreen on regularly and getting enough rest. So not really a “vacation” (which I like to think of as a block of time where no one is expecting me to make any decision bigger than choosing a nail polish color or a cocktail) but still, not a bad way to spend a week.

Packing for the kid-friendly vacation can be tough, though, especially when your kids are old enough that you might do things that involve getting dressed, like visiting a museum or going to a movie or eating in a restaurant. I have three packing suggestions for you, to keep you cool and comfortable and chic.

Stick with basics. You want to choose easy-to-pack, easy-to-wear pieces for a vacation, especially one with kids. I usually go with shorts and a t-shirt for the days when we’re kicking around doing boy stuff (go karts, mini-golf) because it’s easy and comfortable. Embellished or logo tees take this look up a notch, or you can add a cool necklace to a plain white tee for a little pizazz.

Pack a dress. Or two. I’m a huge fan of the dress, especially on vacation — dresses are versatile and easy. You can toss a dress over your swimsuit for the beach or wear it with pretty earrings for dinner out. Cotton dresses will be cool, but jersey won’t wrinkle — take your pick. I love the Talbot’s dress pictured here because it’s bright and simple and easy to wear. Pair with flat espadrilles and a big sun hat for day, or with a skinny belt and a strappy sandal for evening.

Accessorize! You don’t need to haul your entire jewelery box, but a great necklace or pair of earrings can dress up even the most mundane outfit. And since this is a vacation, opt for something you never wear at home — those gigantic silver chandelier earrings, or that crazy long strand of beads. Why not? But leave the valuable jewels at home and go with inexpensive costume pieces, just in case they’re lost or damaged.

What’s your vacation packing go-to?

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3 comments so far...

  • This entry is timely for me because I’m just making such a list now.

    Of course it depends on where you’re going for vacation, but this time we’re doing a lot of walking, so my outfts start with the shoes and work their way upward.

    I love wearing dresses on vacation for the reasons you mention - easy, and the same dress can be used as both a swim coverup and a casual going-out-to-dinner dress with just a change of shoes and maybe a necklace. I like my Eileen Fisher linen dress for this. Also, with dresses or skirts, I defintely recommend wearing cotton bike shorts under if you’re going to be walking a lot. Chafing hurts!

    And, we always pick up a couple of bottles of wine and a corkscrew. It makes those nights stuck in a small hotel room watching a Disney movie on pay per view much more relaxing.

    rb  |  July 2nd, 2010 at 9:17 am

  • The bit about starting with the shoes and working your way up is BRILLIANT. Good planning!

    Susan  |  July 2nd, 2010 at 9:32 am

  • I’m fairly certain I need that dress for my honeymoon.

    Rhi  |  July 2nd, 2010 at 9:47 am