10 Things a Travel Editor Never Leaves Home Without
I am never sure which is better: planning my next trip or actually taking it, but the one thing that can put a drag on my momentum is packing for that next adventure. Like any good gypsy, I’ve developed a system that makes popping open my Raden suitcase and hitting the road (or jumping on a plane) as quick and easy as possible. Which is why I never leave home without the following 10 essentials, whether I’m heading north to the Great Lakes, east to the Lowcountry, south to Florida and the Caribbean, west to California or Hawaii, or off to cruise the Mediterranean on our upcoming Coastal Living 20th Anniversary Cruise in October.
1. A Tunic Dress
I live in tunic dresses all day long when I’m on the road. I always bring my Misha Mendicino that I first discovered on a shopping spree in St. Petersburg, Florida, because it’s a quick-dry rayon, it’s got more coverage with its long sleeves (which actually keeps me cooler in the tropical sun), plus, those little elephants marching along the hem are just so cunning (and Misha donates a portion of sales of this style to elephant rescue). That’s me on location in Cuba, where I wore it literally every day.
2. A Maxi
Better than pants (IMO), this classic resort style can go caftan or cover-up, and is incredibly flattering on every figure. Plays well with sneakers, plays well with sandals, plays well with heels. I just bought this from LA-based designer Natalie Martin for our Mediterranean cruise this October. See you on deck!
3. A Silky (Red) Shift
I never quite know if I’m going to be going to a formal dinner or just on my own for an evening, and having a silky shift rolled up tight covers all outcomes. I prefer red because it feels nautical and tropical at the same time, working from Nantucket to Martinique. My current go-to is a summer button-down shirtdress from Madewell, but here’s a fun one I’ve got my eye on.
4. A Sarong
I always pack a long one and a short one, as they double as skirts, shorts, and the perfect 10-second wrap-and-go when all you want to do is get a good cup of coffee and check out the beach or pool first thing in the morning. I tend to buy them everywhere I go, but here’s a gorgeous sarong that’s featherweight enough to wear as a scarf (packing power move) from Australian designer Sophie Robertson. I may just have to get this before my next trip.
5. A Kimono
I’m a hotel robe junkie, but sometimes they’re just not that good (or non-existent!). Which is why I always pack a kimono, which also gets me to the pool, beach, or spa in a slightly more lobby-appropriate look than the most gorgeous robe. For years I wore one given to me by a dear friend, but it’s finally frayed to nothing. So here’s my new purchase from Open the Kimono, a women-run business featuring nothing but hand-made kimonos on (where else?) Abbot Kinney in Venice, California.
6. A Notebook
BUY IT: Allswell Notebook 2, $21
I’m a reporter by training, so I always bring a spiral bound notebook that gets the job done and reminds me to write, not just snap on my iPhone (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And while I love my old-school steno pads, I’m pretty in love with Allswell’s gorgeous draw and write notebooks.
7. A Small Cross-Body Purse
Okay, this isn’t in my suitcase, because it’s across my body 24-7 and the best way to travel, bar none. I’m really picky about this: I want cross-body construction (much better way to keep your valuables very close to you). I want rugged so I can go from bar to boat to beach and not worry. I want card holders built in so I don’t need to fuss with—or lose—a wallet. And I want an easy way to stow and pull out my iPhone, because I’m shooting photos with it and posting constantly. I’m so picky, in fact, I commissioned a bespoke x/b from the amazing makers at North End Bag Co. in Virginia Beach, VA. See if they won’t make one for you, or have fun gadding about with this sweet number.
8. A Coastal Clutch
When it’s party time, I stow my cross-body and grab a clutch that feels fun and beachy/nautical. I discovered this charming number at Daytrip Society in Kennebunkport, Maine, two summers ago, and I’ve clutched it at white-tie functions in Bermuda and while tasting tequilas in Cabo. Now you can grab one too!
9. A Patagonia Piece
I got my start in the magazines working for a long-gone (but very cool) sports/lifestyle magazine, and that’s when my favorite outdoor brand and I began a lifelong relationship. I own a lot of Patagonia (including a pair of mountaineering-weight fleece pants that I wore trekking in Nepal more than 25 years ago). Depending on the pending weather, I pack my white trench-style rain jacket for anywhere it might rain (or I need a cute layer over a dress at night—here it is on a cool summer evening in Maine), my down sweater jacket (bought in New Orleans when the temperatures plummeted below freezing), and/or the world’s best fleece pullover—in nautical red, of course.
10. My Costas
Want to look good and see well on land and sea? Get a pair of these sunglasses that were designed with fishing and boating in mind. They fit beautifully, are very protective, and I swear I can see things underwater that elude mere mortals. Also, fishing guides will definitely think you’re cool, because they’re all wearing them too.