Friday, May 17, 2013

TRAVEL CHIC: ONE SUITCASE/5 EASY PIECES (c) By Polly Guerin

As the summer travel season draws near it reminds me of the student trips I planned for twenty young women from the Fashion Institute of Technology, 20 total, traveling with me to London, Paris/St. Tropez, Milano, Florence/Venice, and Barcelona. The trip was designated as a 3-credit summer course of exploration visiting the fashion capitals of Europe. Believe me it was a formidable task to be the sole professor escorting this sometimes unruly group of ‘in-no-sense’young women. However, my travel tips may also serve any woman planning such a trip even on her own.
A SAVVY TRAVELER I say that because before we would travel I always held meetings in which I discussed and distributed information on what to expect and how to travel sensibly. While so many of the young women seemed genuinely interested in the fashion aspects of the trip they did not heed my warning that this was a student trip and not a luxury vacation and that they would have to abide by the rules of deportment. Most important they could bring only one medium-size roll-on suitcase and one combination handbag/carryon bag. The girls who did not comply wound up with great difficulties during the trip, but they were forewarned. Often porters are not so handy so several ‘in-no-sense’ girls who decided to bring their summer wardrobe had to fend for themselves when it came to lugging extra suitcases down or up stairs at various stations or airports.
FASHIONABLE ATTIRE Five easy pieces is what I recommended. That means packing minimally with color- coordinated pieces in easy-care fabrics. Five easy pieces include a (1) a classic stretch-linen-like jacket, (2) a printed blouse or printed sleeveless shell, (3) one solid-color microfiber dress, (4) one pair microfiber pants and (5) one pencil slim skirt. Easy-care fabrics make it easy to wash an item during the trip. Always include a pair of comfortable walking shoes, which you can wear with your travel outfit, but pack one pair of heels which will look perfect with the dress, glitter or pearls. Navy blue is always an easy color scheme to coordinate. Brown/beige with coral is another alternative, but always stick to one color scheme. Matching accessories such as a silk Hermes-inspired scarf and a colorful Pashmina printed shawl can add panache to the ensemble as do costume jewelry earrings and necklaces. If you want to relieve yourself of any theft concern never travel with genuine jewelry. However, you should also pack a collapsible tote just in case your retail therapy goes wild with extra purchases.
CHIC NECESSITIES It’s a good idea to put personal necessities in your combination carryon/handbag, in which you can pack a small purse with shoulder strap. This item can be used as an evening accessory or to use on lighter days when you do museum hopping. You can utilize this small purse in your suitcase to stash cosmetics and hair necessities. Keep lingerie to a minimum wash-and-wear status. Toss in a bikini bathing suit with a matching cover-up that can serve as a nightgown, and pair of flip-flops. When we took the Chunnel from London to Paris (a first class experience) another 'in-no-sense' girl piped up, “I thought that you said that we were going first class?” Obviously she did not recognize the classy d├ęcor and lamps
DOCUMENTS BE SAFE As for documents I always suggest that you make a copy of your passport and place it safely inside your suitcase, so heavens, if the original gets lost you will have the information for a replacement at the local U.S. Consulate. Always keep a copy of the travel itinerary with you at all times and at each hotel remember when you go out in the evening, if you do not take the itinerary with you, be sure to pick up a business card with the hotel’s name and address. Many a night I had a frantic concern when several girls did not show up because they couldn’t remember the hotel in which they were staying.
DINING AL FRESCO Often meal plans were included on the trip and we even accommodated vegetarian requests. However, some girls were not adventurous when it came to dining and much to my dismay in Venice I saw several students in a MacDonald’s. When I appeared and wondered what they were doing there. They announced, “This is the best meal we have had on the trip.” So much for trying to broaden one’s taste palate. When it came to the old pension in Florence, where students from other universities were also staying, some of the ‘in-no-sense’ students complained bitterly about the ancient elevator that accommodated one person at a time. Although the atmosphere in the place had a convent-like austerity, alas, most of us thought the experience was quaint.
SO MUCH FOR INNOCENTS ABROAD WHO I HAVE DUBBED ‘IN-NO-SENSE’ BUT ON THE WHOLE DESPITE THESE NAYSAYERS FASHION AND TRAVEL IS A WONDERFUL WAY TO EXPERIENCE EUROPE.