Last week I got to accompany my health coach Amber to speak to a large group (about 500) of teachers about our healthy weight loss program.  In my pre-married-with-kids career life, large conferences were part of my regular routine so it was a lot of fun to briefly revisit that era.  Mom's out there know, breaks like this don't crop up often so I jumped at the request to go and cashed in some airline miles for my ticket.

It's about time I started showcasing the pieces I'm buying to rebuild my new skinny wardrobe, so here's what I wore the day of the conference.
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Loft cowl neck top - aqua (much deeper color in real life)
I accessorized the top with a really cool necklace that coordinates so great. I picked it up in Park City for my -15 pound reward. It has about 15 strands of tiny turquoise colored beads, anchored by a big dark wooden clasp. It's a substantial statement necklace and I dig it.
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Loft stretch cotton pencil skirt - black
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White House Black Market slingback oxfords (I also have these Double Diamond fishnets, but didn't wear them. Too muggy in Michigan!)
On the plane and to the BBQ that evening, I wore this:
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Loft tiered striped tank
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Banana Republic light short sleeve cardigan
I wore dark boot cut jeans and dark orange Nine West strappy sandals with gold accents that coordinated awesome with the orange striped tank. Tiffany blue polish on my toes that was hidden by the b/w slingbacks so I wasn't too matchy-matchy with my blue top, but went awesome when I switched to the orange outfit.
UPDATE! The above cardigan is the one I talked about in this Sucker Moment post.

I accessorized with a gold teardrop beaded necklace and large white Venice lace earrings that I DIY'd after seeing these in an Anthropologie catalog.
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Unfortunately, my 6:55 am flight out of Detroit was canceled (plane wouldn't boot up) which made me miss my connection in Chicago to Salt Lake City. After 13 hours hanging around the Detroit airport, I finally got a flight out. But it was delayed (weather) so I missed my rebooked connection to SLC and had to spend the night in Chicago. I was rebooked on an 8 am flight to SLC, but at 5 am I received an automated call that THAT flight had been canceled (couldn't crew it). I went to the airport anyway- ready to lay waste to O'Hare airport - and the American Airlines ticket counter agent got me on the next United flight to SLC.  I finally made it home Friday afternoon.  Fun stuff! I certainly didn't intend for my travel outfit to be put through it's paces, but it was a trooper and kept me looking put together, instead of crazed and exhausted like I felt.    
 
 
This is part 2 of my answer to Sarah's question about traveling with a diaper bag.  In my last post (part 1 of Diaper Bag Packing) I covered what diaper bag I use (it's a good general size) and what I packed for the infant months.  In this post, I'll address I'll address the remainder of Sarah's question, namely how the diaper bag should grow or alter as the baby gets older or as you add more babies.
My first just turned 3 and my twins just turned 18 months so we're in the phase of almost constant evolution when we travel.  From everyone in diapers and only the eldest feeding herself to one now potty trained and everyone feeding themselves, albeit at different levels, there's a lot to consider when taking even a weekend trip with little munchkins.  Since there are many types of trips, I'm going to address a long weekend trip with an airplane flight.
Here are the essentials I pack in my diaper bag with toddlers.
(And none of these companies has any idea I exist. If they find out I exist, I'd be happy to do a review!)  
  • Even with toddlers, I still stick to the "onesie & leggings" plan for a change of clothes.  They're simple to pack and IF we ran into a situation where a full change of clothes was needed, I wouldn't care if my 3-year old was running around in a bodysuit and Babylegs. Instead of diapers, I pack an extra pair of panties for her.
  • I love thin coated bibs for traveling! (these are by I-Play) The bottom folds over to create a little pocket to catch spills and they fold up to almost nothing. They're kind of fabric, kind of plastic. It's hard to describe but the kicker is, they're really thin and I can wipe them off with a napkin or rinse them in a sink or drinking fountain and they'll dry really fast.  Thick cloth bibs grab and hold spills and drips, making a mess in the diaper bag.
  • The funky looking carrot in the upper RH corner is the Boon dispensing spoon. We bought it on a "let's just try it and pray it works" whim after a trip filled with mixing messy infant cereal at our table, lids popping off the travel bowl in the diaper bag and lost infant spoons. And the thing works great! We lost count of how many parents asked us what the heck it was. It has a little lid that covers the spoon and plugs the hole where the food comes out. So you just pre-mix your stuff, fill the carrot, twist on the spoon/lid and you're done. When it's time to eat you whip it out, pop off the cap, squeeze a little into the spoon and feed. Squeeze - feed - squeeze - feed. If they don't take it all, you just cap it again.  For refills, we would take an unopened container of baby food and throw that away after refilling the carrot.  We're now at the stage where our girls have outgrown baby food but we put this thing through it's paces for sure! We bought a hot pink one when we had the twins so that both could eat at the same time. 
  • The sectioned snack cup is great. Never filled with chocolate or sticky stuff that can melt and cause mega messy fingers.  As I said in Part 1 of this answer, I don't haul a ton of food with me. I want traveling to be easy and I can always find something my toddlers will eat in an airport. But I never travel without a filled snack container to tide them over.
  • A no-spill cup filled with water for each kid. Without handles! The handled ones don't fit in the end pockets of a diaper bag. When they're past the breastfeeding or bottle feeding stage, this is great to hand over as the plane is taking off. The drinking action helps their ears during the pressure change.  So does sucking on a little sucker, so I pack a couple of Chupa Chups, my girls' favorite, or Dum-Dums in the bag too.  Another perfect travel food is Brother's All-Natural Fruit Crisps. Even without teeth when they just started eating solids, gnawing on the apple slices was great. We buy the big variety boxes at Costco and the slim packs weigh absolutely nothing and are perfect for a quick meal.
  • I still include their comfort item (the previously mentioned Lovies, for us) and one small story or I-Spy book. Still no toys.  Should we reach tantrum level they'll enjoy something new from a gift shop more than one of their "old" toys. And I haven't yet had to buy anything in a gift shop! The moving sidewalk alone is a world of entertainment! No longer take burp cloths but I still have my neck pouch, hand sanitizer, Stain Stick, lotion and lip balm. Since they're walking, I don't take a thin blanket. Just a sweater for each of them that I can take off and toss in the bag if it gets hot. We still gate check the stroller and only pack the baby carrier in our luggage if we're planning to hike or cover some serious ground in a city.
So that's the skinny on my diaper bag traveling tips.  Even when I'm not traveling with a diaper bag (does that day ever come for Mom's?) I'll probably always carry wipees. They're just too handy!  I've had a lot of fun with these posts.  I'll update them again one of these days when the girls have moved on to the next stage.  What is the next stage? Ipods and video games?  Probably. Let the battle for books begin!
 
 
Remember Sarah whom you met a few days ago?  In her original question to Ask Image Interpreters, she also asked the following about traveling with a baby.
Q: In your "what to pack" series, would you include a diaper bag post? I have a 5-month old right now but am also wondering how to make it "grow" with us as we travel and she gets older.
A: You wanna talk diaper bags?  I have LIVED in my diaper bag since August '07.  It has grown with me from one newborn, to an "older baby", to barely getting into one toddler before I added two more newborns. (Our first was 17 months old when our twin girls were born.)  I worried that my adorable Ju-Ju-Be bag wouldn't be able to handle the added load but it absorbed the twins' necessities like a champ! 
I'm betting every mother could write an encyclopedia's worth of information about what should and shouldn't go in a diaper bag, all based on personal preferences.  It depends so much on the type of mother you are.  Mother's range from, "If I don't have I don't need it" to "I'll have a panic attack if I don't take everything with me."  Me, I fall in the middle of those two extremes.  I like to be prepared but I don't mind leaving things out that I will probably only need in an emergency and can get at my destination.  So while you're perusing these tips, consider the kind of mother you are and how that translates into the type of traveler you want to be.  In this post I'll address serious travel with a baby, such as a vacation with an airline flight included, as opposed to just out and about for the day. 
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Ju-Ju-Be / Be All
This is my diaper bag (though in a slightly different print). It's the Ju-Ju-Be messenger bag, the Be All.  Cute story about how I got this bag.  While pregnant with my first, I spent months analyzing the myriad different diaper bags available.  I finally decided that a Be All was the bag for me.  Shortly after I began the online hunt for the best price, a box arrived from my parents' oldest and dearest friends.  In it was a gorgeous white blanket she had crocheted herself (for the baby's blessing) and a Be All in a fun print I really liked. (Thanks again, Vicki!)  I was absolutely floored!  It's not like I had told anybody of my diaper bag decision.  I swear she was inspired.
You can click the pic to check out these bags but some of the features I like best are that it's easy to clean, it's durable and well-made, the changing pad is super quick to grab from the back, and organizing things is easy.  Lots of pockets!  So first, here's how I packed for traveling with one baby.
  • The diaper bag is my only carry-on.  I realize extra fees for checked luggage is a pain, but it's better than struggling with a baby, a diaper bag, AND a small roll-aboard suitcase. We're going for easy travel here, as much as possible.
  • I use my neck pouch as a mini purse.  I became and even bigger fan of my neck pouch (profiled in this Travel Tips post) after my first trip with a baby. All my travel info, ID, credit card, cash, phone, etc. fits inside and it's hanging right around my neck while I'm maneuvering through the airport with a baby. Once we're through security, I just slip it into my diaper bag.
  • Diapers & wipes: take enough to cover a delayed flight and wipeouts.  Skip the toys.  Entertainment can be found in any gift shop.  A magazine she could shred was enough for my 6-month old.  But diapers? Running out of those would be a real problem.  I pack extra diapers in our checked suitcase.
  • One bottle.  I didn't get to breastfeed my babies for very long so I always had to take enough formula to cover a delay.  I've heard from friends who breastfed their babies  longer, that taking one bottle of pumped milk made the flight much easier. I took a Hooter Hider to make feeding in public comfortable.
  • Burp cloths equal to your babies spit-up factor. None of my girls were spitter-uppers.  After about 3 months I only took one burp cloth to catch drips.  My sister-in-law however, deals with babies who have no problem spitting up everything they just ate.  Usually all over her.  Before I was married, I was seated on a flight next to the window. A mother was coming down the aisle holding a baby (maybe 9 or 10 months old) on her shoulder.  Just as she was passing our row - the baby threw up.  It completely took out the woman on the aisle seat of my row (I was blissfully spared) and the woman on the aisle directly behind her.  The mother kept walking a few more rows before she realized what had happened, then burst into tears.  Everyone rushed to help her but it was a mighty stinky flight for a while.
  • A simple change of clothes.  I dress my girls in layers just like me for a flight but I don't pack an entirely new outfit.  It's rare that every article of clothing would need to be changed so for me, the standard extra items are a onesie and Baby Legs mini legwarmers.  Super easy to pack, covers cold or warm contingencies.
  • A comfort item.  My babies have binky's that I tether to them and "Lovies", really soft mini-blankets that have little animal heads. (Ours were gifts that you can find here at Nordstrom in a brilliant 3-pack.)
  • Since I don't fly monthly with babies, I don't buy in to all the fancy schmancy rolling infant/toddler airline seats. We once had to fly with a car seat because it was easier than renting one at that particular end destination.  But if we're not renting a car, we just take our small, collapsible stroller. I use it through the airport and gate check it when we board. I pack our carrier in our luggage (we use Baby Hawks.)
  • Travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer and lotion (type that works for baby and me), lip balm, Tide Stain Stick.    
  • A thin blanket for playing on the floor or snuggling. 
After all that, a good sized diaper bag will be full but not bursting.  You'll still be able to slip in the bottle of water bought after security.  Don't worry about much stuff for you. I pack a protein bar for me (non-chocolate, since the baby will always grab for it and smear me). Other food can be purchased at the airport.  You really won't have time to entertain yourself.  If you're delayed, you can grab a magazine or book but will likely be walking to keep baby calm.
Stay tuned for the next post to cover how this list alters when baby's become toddlers or more babies are added!
And no, none of these companies has any idea I like and recommend their products.
 
 
Today is the final part of the answer to the following question submitted to Ask Image Interpreters:  I am going on a two week trip to Europe but do not want to lug a heavy bag. What and how much would you suggest I take. I always take way too much and still have nothing to wear. I am going to Germany and Switzerland in June...
A follow-up question to my first answer asked for recommendations for her husband traveling with her so that's what we're covering today.  And at the end, I have two items for the ladies that I forgot in the last post, as well as a few other questions to answer.

The luggage, packing tools, and packing tips we covered in the last post count for the men as well.  My husband and I have no problem fitting both our things in a single carry-on.  It means only the addition of his jacket, toothbrush, one pair of undies, neck pouch, and reading material.

Here are wardrobe items to avoid...
No matter how old or young you are, there's no need to profess your undying love for your favorite team while traveling.  And unless you're one of our amazing soldiers heading to or from active duty, camo print is not appropriate either.
 
Here are some suggestions for traveling in comfort and style.  Remember - it's the type and # of item that is important.  Raid your closet before you go shopping.
For a summer trip like this one, men should take one to two more shirts than their female counterparts and a few more pairs of socks.  Men tend to sweat more than women and the extra shirt and socks are helpful. 
  • A lightweight, waterproof jacket.  Pack this in the carry-on.
  • A casual sport coat.  Gives you that stylish bump that so many men are missing nowadays, and fits the bill if you decide to seek out a fancy restaurant for dinner. Wear this on the plane.
  • 5 to 6 shirts.  They don't all have to be long-sleeved dress shirts.  Linen travels wonderfully, cotton polos as well.  A baseball style t-shirt is casual without being schlumpy.  Shirts with a little stretch help you avoid ironing.
  • 2 pants.  My husband often skips the jeans and packs a pair of dark trousers with the chinos.  If you're a shorts guy - pack tailored bermudas over cargo or jean shorts.
  • 1 pj. You never know when you might need to run down the hall for ice!
  • 5 to 6 socks.  Fewer if you're packing sandals.
  • 5 to 6 underwear.
  • A hat you would wear on a hot day.
  • Sunglasses, watch, and belt.
  • If you're planning on fancier restaurants or activities, slip a tie in your bag!  
  • The same neck pouch I suggested for the women.  Your wallet in your pocket can be too easily pilfered.  
  • Nook-style neck pillow as suggested previously.
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Both shoes at DSW.com
A loafer & sneaker-style casual shoe.
For some reason, the shoes didn't want to show up properly in my collage.  So here they are.  A comfortable loafer makes it easy to negotiate security at the airport.  A sneaker-style lace-up covers the casual side of your outfits but still looks nice.

A word on athletic sandals!  There are definitely viable sandal options out there for men but if you plan on wearing them - you better make sure your feet are viewer worthy.  There's zero shame in getting a pedicure, at the very least, your wife can help you tidy up your tootsies.

For your dopp kit - refer to the suggestions in the last post, minus the feminine specific items. 

Two things I forgot in the last post...
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DKNY Smoothies - $15 Nordstrom

For the women... Bike Shorts!! 

In my first answer last week to this question, I promised you a tip for how to wear skirts when traveling and I forgot to include it.  Bike shorts (without the authentic seat padding) are a skirt's best friend. They make it easier to sit and you don't have worry about gusts of wind flashing your fancies to the public.  If it's really hot out... skip the bike shorts and enjoy the breeze! 

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Travel-size bottle of Febreze!!

They're making progress, but European's still smoke quite a bit.  A little spray bottle of Febreze eliminates the stink lickety split!  Just spritz your clothes at night and the next morning you'll be good to go.

A few answers to questions I received from the previous posts.
  1. Yes, it's fine to get a TSA approved luggage lock.  I haven't yet, because I bought my luggage before those came out.  I just leave it unlocked during travel and lock it at the hotel.  With my passport in it!
  2. Travel candles are sometimes more trouble than they're worth. It's handy that they come in little tins with lids and they definitely help in musty or odd-smelling hotel rooms.  But you're not supposed to pack lighters and TSA agents often confiscate matches as well.  So that leaves you hunting for something at your destination.  If you're worried about being sensitive to smells, pack a TS spray freshener.
I hope you found this 3-part answer helpful.  It was so much fun to write and I hope you have a fantastic trip!
 
 
Definitely more of a delay than I wanted between the first Traveling in Style post and this sequel but, rather than write a million words, I wanted to do a vlog showing you how to pack and this morning we finally had time to film.   

Part One covered WHAT to pack, avoiding typical tourist clothing traps, and escaping the pitfalls of over-packing.  Today we're covering HOW to pack it all and by further request, Part 3 will cover the Men's Edition of what to pack.

The essential luggage pieces to cover almost any travel scenario are:
  •  24" to 27" expandable wheeled upright
  • 20" expandable wheeled carry-on
  • boarding tote
For a two-week Europe trip you should be able to comfortably pack in the small rolling suitcase and carry-on tote. Some people like a wheeled duffel because they flatten nicely for storage, but I find them much harder to pull.  And they're not very stylish.  I toss my tote into my carry-on, the carry-on into the big upright, and they store beautifully.

In case you're wondering about what luggage to invest in, my favorite brand is Briggs & Riley, not that they even know I exist.  They have a lovely life-time guarantee.  No matter what happens to your bag, your fault, my fault, nobody's fault, they repair it. If you're fast, you can score that great little Boarding Tote for less than $100.  It's been discontinued, which is a shame. My 20" carry-on that you'll see in the video is a Tumi I picked up on a great sale and it's been a champ. 

The above three items have been my packing best friends for many years. 
(Above are the versions currently available.) 
  • The absolutely indispensable - Eagle Creek Packing Envelope.  Purchase the size that will fit in your smallest suitcase.  Mine is an 18".
  • Eagle Creek Packing Cube.  It's double sided, with one side lined to hold wet or dirty clothes. Comes in half and quarter sizes as well.
  • Tri-fold, vinyl covered, hanging toiletry kit.  Counter space can be hard to come by in some hotel bathrooms, so the ability to hang your kit and have everything handy is crucial.
Before you watch the video, don't forget, you're wearing one of your complete outfits when you fly out.  There is no separate "airplane outfit".  What you wear comes from the items I suggested yesterday. 

And now I'm proud to present... my hands!

Fascinating, right?  Thoughts on hair tools.  On one of my trips to Germany several years ago, I hit my wall where adapters were concerned.  No matter how much I spent, they all burned out my curling irons or fell out of the plugs. So I walked to the nearest apothecary and grabbed the inexpensive blow dryer/curling brush combo you just saw.  Reaching my limit with the adapters also brought an epiphany that I didn't need to do anything but my simplest hairstyle when I was traveling.  For me, that meant washing it at night and using the dryer/curler to put a sleek bend in the ends in the morning.  It was life altering, that epiphany. And I've never spent a dime on another adapter.  Today, you can find hairdryers with European plugs on Amazon for around $40. 
True traveling nirvana.  Now back to the show...
Before our final vlog, I should point out that the 2 year old you're about to hear made off with my sunglasses, hat, camera case, and snacks.  So don't forget to put those in your carry-on as well!  I also didn't flash my underwear around in the video, but it's smart to tuck a pair in there (packing the other 4 pair in your cube).  When my luggage didn't make it to Poland until the day after I did, I was glad I had that pair of undies.

Am I serious about the snacks?  Definitely! Just a few energy bars, an apple and sandwich.  It's a long flight! Airport food can be fatty and expensive.  And you REALLY don't want to be stuck buying the limited airplane offerings if you're not flying at least business class.  You'll also notice I didn't put in any water.  Can't get past TSA with it unless it's sealed so purchase it after you get through security.  But definitely get some!  Dehydration makes jetlag much worse.
I'm about to use the initials TS a lot.  It stands for "travel size."  And all soaps or liquids should be in ziplock baggies.  Contains the leaks, easy to rinse out.

In your toiletry kit you should pack:
  • TS body wash or bar soap & net scrubby
  • TS shampoo and conditioner (don't count on each hotel having them)
  • Body butter (never leaks, unlike lotion, and a little goes a long way)
  • TS hair gel (or whatever product you use for your simplest hairstyle)
  • Sunscreen!
  • TS toothpaste & floss
  • Deodorant
  • Nail file or small nail clippers
  • A few Q-tips
  • A few band-aids for walking blisters
  • Razor & TS size shaving cream
  • Small pkg of powdered laundry soap. These are easy to find at a laundromat or drug store. Even gas stations! I few sprinkles in the sink and you'll have clean undies & socks.
  • In addition to this Stila Combo-Eye pen and mascara that you saw, I carry one other eyeshadow (a cream bronze that goes with everything) and SPF tinted moisturizer.  You can add in concealer, blush, and lipstick/gloss, but traveling is not the place for your red-carpet face.  Fresh and simple is easy to do and looks best in pictures.
  • Supplies to deal with your monthly friend if necessary.
  • Any medications you're currently taking, including for seasonal allergies. Germany & Switzerland will be in full pollen bloom!
  • Imodium - for undesirable food episodes.  (Hello - oysters in Belgium!)
  • And finally, my Super-Duper-Jetlag-Slaying Travel Cocktail... Benadryl and Excedrin. The Benadryl taken at night helps you sleep in the new time zone, and the Excedrin in the morning wakes you up and takes care of any little headaches from the jetlag or unfamiliar bed.  Take that combo the first few days and before you know it - you'll be acclimated!  If you already use sleeping pills, then take those instead of the Benadryl.  Better traveling through chemistry, I say!
Final points to consider.
  • If you don't freeze easily, you can eliminate the sweater layer.  The pashmina & lightweight trench will have you covered.
  • Someone asked about an umbrella.  Sure, TS sized ones are easy to pack but for me they often end up never leaving my hotel.  Invariably, it'll be sunny when we head out and won't rain until later.  My trench keeps me from getting soaked.
  • Make sure your camera is charged & the memory is clear!
  • Make sure you have your passport.
  • Pack AT LEAST the day before.  It'll help you remember things.
  • Check in online, even if you don't print out your boarding pass.
  • I sometimes get asked why I don't take a purse to "hide" my camera in. Because a purse is a bigger target than a camera! In one fell swoop everything could be stolen, not JUST my camera.  The neck pouch I discussed last time keeps everything tucked away and I just watch out for my camera.  I'd hate to have it stolen but it is much easier to replace than my credit card and ID.
  • Have a flexible itinerary.  It is smart to plan out what you'll be doing and where you'll be staying on your trip, but take your guidebook with you so that if something catches your eye or a local refers you to something, you can make a little detour.
  • Pack a deck of cards in your carry-on.  Because when you travel... you travel!  If the plane is delayed, don't stress out.  Things will happen.  Reservations will be "lost", trains will be missed (are you catching all my personal experience here?) and it's ok.  It's an excuse for another round of cards, or another chapter in your book, or more people watching.  
 
 
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Rhine Valley - Germany

Q: I am going on a two week trip to Europe but do not want to lug a heavy bag. What and how much would you suggest I take. I always take way too much and still have nothing to wear. I am going to Germany and Switzerland in June...and need advice from my expert niece.


I know I said spring style tips would follow up our masculinity series, but I had to stop the presses!  A question about traveling was submitted to Ask Image Interpreters and even if it hadn't come from my dear Aunt, I'd have still answered it before posting anything else.  Hello! It deals with traveling! A favorite topic of mine and one of the extraordinarily few areas I call myself somewhat of an expert, especially considering where she's going. (Germany is my second home!)  So let's get to the fun!

A:
You are correct - most people over-pack to the extreme when taking a trip abroad, resulting in those heavy bags to lug. I did too until I learned the art of Travel Packing Zen. I often hear, "But I have to pack for every contingency because I don't know what we might do!"  To which I say, "Really? Is your itinerary a secret? Someone else is planning this trip for you?"  The truth is, you know exactly what kind of trip you're going to have - whether you'll be hitting the foreign nightclubs, hiking the Matterhorn, or chilling on a beach.  The only real question mark you have to address is the weather.  And we're going to address that. In this 2-post answer, we're going to first cover WHAT to pack and then HOW to pack it.
We're starting with the DON'T take items because I want to get those out of the options pile as quickly as possible.
Do not pack the above items!  Any of these combined together screams "clueless American tourist!"  You're touring beautiful European cities, not hiking the Appalachian Trail. The goal is to be comfortable while traveling, look chic doing it, and avoid over-packing.
  • If you're an avid exerciser training for a marathon and must get in a 5 mile run every day, then pack your running shoes.  But that's the only time you get to wear them! And if that description doesn't fit you, then let the hours of walking work their magic.  Even at a "strolling around the piazza pace", I never fail to lose at least 5 lbds.
  • Fanny/waist packs - aside from being hideous, they're a magnet for thieves.  Don't carry a backpack, either.  Things on your back just make it easier for pick-pockets in a crowd. (Just ask my Mom!)                                                     

Now the DO take items!  (click to view the larger collage and item details)
It is the number and type of items in the above collage that are most important.  Raid your own closet before you do any shopping.  Nobody in Europe has ever seen your wardrobe before.  Note that everything coordinates. You'll have lots of options from minimal items.
If you do need to shop, almost everything in this collage is currently available.  Especially the trenchcoat for $39 at Nordstrom right now! Also comes in black.
  • 4 to 5 tops: Do not choose only tees.  Button-down and polo shirts are still casual but look dressier and offer more variety. And for a two week trip 4 or 5 will be plenty. And while you might be tempted to pack all black - don't! Injecting some color will make you look better in the pictures you'll take.
  • 1 cardigan: This should be long sleeve and ideally cashmere, or a blend thereof.  It's perfect for the plane and fluctuating temps.  
  • 1 jacket:A lightweight short trench coat is perfect! It won't add bulk to your bag or your body.  For a summer trip you're mostly wanting it for occasional chilly breezes, cold airplanes and rain.  The weather high in Switzerland can be much different from spots in Germany.  It can get hot!
  • 3 bottoms: The darkest wash jean you own, khakis, and a light skirt are the most versatile.  That brown linen skirt is at Victoria's Secret right now for $40! (I'll have a tip for you tomorrow about wearing your skirt.) You might prefer a black trouser to a dark jean, or olive khaki's to tan ones, but stay in the neutral family.
  • 2 shoes: This is where most people make the biggest mistake by taking too many or taking only gym shoes.  My travel shoes are shiny black slip-ons with a slightly thicker sole. They're by no means the nicest looking pair in my closet, but they work like a charm getting me through airport security lines and hours of walking.  Since it's a summer trip - you'll be wise to pack a pair of sturdy sandals.  NOT flip-flops! If you buy shoes for your trip, buy them fast and wear them to break them in.
  • 1 pajama: Bring something fun!  Satin pj's pack very easily.
  • 2 bras: One to wear while the other rests.  For extensive info on bras review the Bra Education section.
  • 2 socks: For a summer trip you'll most likely be alternating between shoes and sandals so you don't need a pair for every day.
  • 6 underwear: Just as with your socks, you can wash a few pair in the sink at your hotel for fresh undies.
  • OPTIONAL DRESS: Consider adding a jersey wrap dress (infinitely packable! I prefer black.) if you're planning on hitting church services or finding a fancy spot for dinner.
  • Watch & Jewelry: A simple, inexpensive pair of studs and necklace in matching metals work with any outfit.  Traveling is no place for your diamonds or tons of accessories to keep track of.
  • Oversized sunglasses: Don't bring your nicest pair but make sure they have UV protection. The oversize style will look chic and hide those jet-lag eyes.
  • A crushable hat: I prefer this style to a baseball cap because they're easier to pack, but bring whatever you're comfortable wearing.
  • Belt: One belt in a neutral color to go with all your outfits is plenty.  If you're not a belt wearer, skip it!
  • Pashmina: I'm not going to detail all the nasty things I have personally seen happen to airplane blankets.  A pashmina (preferably cashmere or a blend) of your own avoids the yucky and guarantees you additional warmth on the plane. It also doubles as a neck pillow.  Most U-shaped travel pillows push your head too far forward and are a pain to carry.  A pashmina is long enough to roll up one end behind your neck and wrap the rest across yourself.  If you really want a pillow, I prefer this nook style
  • A neck pouch: Do not bring a bulky purse to lug around. I have been traveling with one of these for more years than I can remember. It's super slim, slides under my shirt and I tuck it into my pants.  Hidden! The only thing you need to carry in a day is your cash/credit card/hotel key (usually a card nowadays)/ID/city map/camera.  Everything but the camera will fit in the neck pouch and you'll be virtually hands free.  If you plan on doing some shopping, toss an empty canvas tote or reusable shopping bag into your suitcase.  
  • Other good ideas: A mini MP3 player: not a basic necessity, but they're useful for tuning out travel noise and making the trip more enjoyable.  And they're so small now they take up virtually no space. Also much cheaper than an iPod, should it get lost or stolen. If you purchase one, go for battery operated! You'd never want to mess with recharging it with an adapter. Mine runs 70 hours on one tiny AAA.  Ear plugs: I put them in as soon as I get on the plane! Travel alarm clock. Travel journal and pen! Reading material.
  • Your camera!  A quick tip here - each night at your hotel, or when you have down time, delete unwanted pics from your camera and jot down the location and subject of each shot. It'll save you from the dreaded, "Memory Card Full" warning when you're trying to capture a great shot, and you won't have to ask, "Now where was this?" when you get back home.
Whew!  A mountain of information for relatively few items.  As mentioned, this was WHAT to pack.  The next post will deal with HOW to pack it.  I'll also cover your toiletry kit and some general travel tips.