Travel Packing Part II … Three Seasons in a Bag

Finally, finally… I’ve finished planning what to pack for our South America trip. I think. At least I’m pretty sure that I’m finished. As I said in my last post, this will be a complex trip. Six weeks on the road. Several different modes of transport: planes, trains, buses, and automobiles. Lots of activities, a few tours, some hiking, and walking, walking, walking. Two countries, three different climates. And according to my way of thinking, outfits suitable for three seasons.
Research is done, bookings are done… now for the packing

Let me explain that last remark. Hubby researched the climate and average temperatures for all of our destinations. But I just can’t wrap my head around how cool or hot 17°C actually is.  And it’s especially hard when it’s winter here, and anything above freezing seems warm. I learned this lesson when we travelled to Australia in 2003. Because I was packing in -20°C typical ‘Ottawa in January’ weather, the idea of +15° in Australia seemed heavenly, balmy, sandal weather even. Ha. After two days of cool, rainy 15° in Sydney, I finally gave up on the sandals, and wore my hiking boots out for dinner because I was sick to death of having cold feet.
So for this trip, I tried comparing the average temperatures of our destinations with seasonal averages here. And came to the conclusion that it will be “summer” in Buenos Aires, with temperatures comparable to our July and August, “spring” in Patagonia, where it will feel like early May, and “fall” in Peru, where the highs and lows read like our October temperatures. Ok-ay. Now, that I can understand. Outfit wise I mean. When I added up the days and nights over the course of the trip, it turns out that roughly 1/3 of our time I will need summer duds, 1/3 of the time I’ll be dressing for spring, and 1/3 of the time I’ll need fall-ish outfits. And luckily there shouldn’t be much of a difference between spring and fall, save for an added layer or two. Easy peasy. Ha. I say that now… but last week… Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll explain that later. For now, back to the planning.
My planning… a work in progress
Here’s what I’ve decided to pack. The tops you can see laid out on our spare room bed, below. On the left, summer. Three tank tops, two nice ones (one black and one grey striped), and my old yellow tank for active wear. One gingham sleeveless blouse. My blue Tory Burch tunic for wearing out to dinner. My cool weather items are in the middle: a blue fleece, and two light T-necks (one pink and one black.) Plus, two short-sleeved tee shirts (one black and one white), good for layering. And on the right. A striped cotton sweater, and three long-sleeved tee shirts. Black/white striped, black, and periwinkle blue/white striped. All the long-sleeved tee shirts look good with either jeans or leggings. And can be layered under the blue fleece, or my fleece vest which I will be wearing on the plane. I’ll also pack two pairs of jeans and one pair of black pants (my Aritzia crepe joggers.) Plus a pair of cotton, cargo pants for hiking. My black leggings I’ll wear on the plane. I’ll pack a pair of sandals, my Stan Smith Adidas, and wear my hiking boots to travel. Add to that my Hot Chillys long underwear, my Gortex jacket, rain pants, a toque and gloves, and a sun hat, and two scarves.
 tops that I will pack for our trip to Peru and Argentina
The tops that made the final cut.

So with the list finished. I began to check outfit combinations today. This is what I will wear hiking.  A layering tee shirt, or one of my turtlenecks depending on the temperatures. A fleece for warmth. My Gortex jacket. These old black cargo pants and, if needed, my ski underwear bottoms. And my new Salomon hiking boots, bought in November. Well, I call them boots, but they’re “hiking shoes”, apparently. Recommended by Carol in a comment on a post last fall. Thanks, Carol. I’ve test driven them a few times and they are very comfortable, and so much lighter than my old boots. They feel like running shoes. I’ll have my toque and a light pair of gloves stuffed into my pockets. And my rain pants in the back pack… which Hubby will carry… I should add. Ha. Like you ever doubted that.

Salomon hiking boots, Gap short sleeved tee, Eddie Bauer fleece, MEC Gortex jacket, black cotton cargo pants
For those days when we’re not hiking, but may be driving, catching buses, taking boat rides, or just walking about town, I’ll need comfy outfits that will take me through spring and fall-ish weather. Outfits like this one: jeans, my new periwinkle blue and white striped long-sleeved tee from Massimo Dutti (bought last week), my blue fleece, and my Stan Smith sneakers. Or this one: jeans, striped sweater (also from Massimo Dutti), my fleece vest, and my hiking boots.
Massimo Dutti tee shirt, Eddie Bauer fleece, Paige high rise jeans,Stan Smith Adidas
Massimo Dutti sweater, Paige high rise jeans, Salomon hiking boots, Columbia fleece vest
And for warmer temperatures, maybe this combination: jeans, sandals, and a light long-sleeved tee, again from Massimo Dutti. This black tee is much nicer that it looks here. It’s really light and most importantly… not of the clingy, mid-riff adhering variety. I plan to wear jeans and one of my tee shirts most days. With or without a jacket. With sandals or my Stan Smith sneakers.
Massimo Dutti black tee, Citizens of Humanity jeans, Michael Kors sandals

For hot weather evenings, in Buenos Aires or Lima, I’ll wear my Vince leggings and my black Aritzia tank, or my crepe joggers and my grey striped tank. I can always use a light scarf as a wrap if I feel chilly, or bring a light jacket. I’ll also pack my blue Tory Burch tunic to wear with either the leggings or joggers. Obviously nothing I’m bringing is very dressy, but for even more casual evenings I’ll just swap out the black pants for jeans.

Aritzia black tank, Vince leggings, Michael Kors sandals          Aritzia grey striped tank, Aritzia black crepe joggers, Michael Kors sandals
Yep. It all seemed so simple when I finished making my lists last week. Three tanks, a few long-sleeved tee shirts, two short-sleeved tees. Throw in some jeans, my leggings, a pair of dressier pants. My hiking pants. Easy peasy. Right?
All I needed were a couple of new long-sleeved tee shirts. Relatively inexpensive tee shirts that could be worn alone with jeans, if need be, or layered under jackets or a fleece. Tee shirts which were not skin tight. Which did not cling to my middle, but which fell away from the body much like the ALC tee that I bought to take to France in 2015. I tried Aritzia. I tried J Crew. I tried Gap. I tried everywhere. I finally found what I was looking for at Massimo Dutti, where I bought two long-sleeved tees, and a light sweater. Success, finally.
Then I discovered that my hiking pants from our Costa Rica trip in 2013 were NOT destined to make it into the suitcase. They are, I’m sad to admit, too tight. Actually, they were a bit too tight when I bought them. And that was after looking, and looking. And freaking looking. The sales clerk at Mountain Equipment Co-op finally agreed with me that my body is not made for women’s sporting clothes. I tried to tell her that from the first, but she was determined to prove me wrong. No chance. My legs are too long, my butt too flat, my waist too big, and I don’t have hips to speak of. Every pair of pants that fit in the waist, looked like a tent on me, and were often too short in the legs at the same time. So, too big and too small in one go. I eventually bought a pair of men’s trekking pants, that day. The only way I could get a long enough leg. And now they don’t fit me anymore. But, I am not up for a repeat of that shopping adventure, folks. So, I dug out my old cotton cargo pants which will have to suffice. If it’s warm they’ll be great, and I can wear them over my long underwear if I need to, and they will wash and dry quickly. And I don’t care what they look like. Really… I don’t.
Sigh. I don’t know why it always has to be so hard to find decent, well-fitting, flattering clothing. Can’t sporty clothing manufacturers make at least one style of pant that suits women with long legs and no butt? Must tee shirts be made so small, and so clingy? Sigh. I think I must be suffering from planning fatigue. Or outfit trying on fatigue. I’m not usually this cranky about shopping. Or so easily frustrated over trying on outfits.
Ahhhh… this is what I felt like earlier this afternoon. My version of Munch’s “The Scream.” Except I’m calling it… “I simply can not try on one more outfit!”
Tory Burch tunic, black Vince leggings, Michael Kors sandals
No more trying on… no more!

So that’s pretty much it for my packing, folks. As you can see I ran out of steam before I could try on all the possible outfit combinations. But you get the idea. Three seasons, one suitcase. Now I just have to see how everything fits into that suitcase.

Later this week, I will lay out all of Hubby’s clothes. All three things. Ha. Just kidding. I may have to go tee shirt shopping for him. Which will take all of five minutes. Gad. Men have it so easy!

We’ve still lots of things to do before we leave. House-sitting arrangements. Finalizing all of our bookings. Trial packing. And repacking. Final hair appointment… for the “trip cut.”

I’m starting to get excited now.

So how about you, my friends? What do you find most frustrating about planning and packing for a big trip? Ever suffer from outfit trying on fatigue?


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61 thoughts on “Travel Packing Part II … Three Seasons in a Bag”

  1. Oh Susan, I don't envy you, all that packing. I've always found it harder to envisage dressing for warmer destination temps when it's colder back home, not so much when its vice versa. But you have a wonderful tool to work with. Just peruse your blog! Go to the destination seasons' posts, scroll through to the sorts of days you'll be having in S.A. and there you will find what felt right for the activity/temperatures back then. But you've maybe already done that to get where you are now, living in The Scream!
    I wish you a smashing holiday and whatever you pack will be good (but ignoring any of hubby's recommended trousers!). Being selfish though, I'm going to miss your posts :-(.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I did use my blog, just like you suggest, to see what I took to France and then hardly wore. It was very helpful. I hope to do some blogging when we're away. I may have to create the posts off-line and then upload when we have reliable internet.

  2. We're you having a rant there at the end 🙂 . I think it all goes well packing minamalisty until I spill wine down a top and washing it doesn't fit with my outfit timetable. A few spares are necessary if ones clumsy like me. You have great combinations with the colour themes you've chosen and that's a fab idea.

    1. We are not doing carry-on only. Even though we're bringing carry-on size luggage we're checking it. As for dressy footwear…I was pleased that the only times we'll be in cities where dressing up a bit might be required, the temperatures will be warm. So I can wear my sandals. Everywhere else will be small towns or villages where trekkers will be common so casual will be best. This was confirmed by a friend who has made a similar trip to ours.

  3. You won't get much sympathy from me for your long legs & flat butt – I should be so lucky 🙂 I think you have your outfits sorted , just the combinations I would wear , no fuss , nothing overdone but stripes for interest & the bare minimum of shoes . No ' rich lady tourist ' look . I've never been to South America – I'm starting to get excited now too
    Wendy in York

    1. Thanks, Wendy. I found that the one dressy item I took to France in 2015 I didn't wear. So this time I'm just going to relax… and as long as I have a clean tee shirt and jeans to wear to dinner…I'll be good.

  4. Packing for a trip, any trip, is the worst chore. I always lay out too much and have to cut back on my options. I still end up with a big suitcase full. I don't know how people travel with just a carry on, unless it's a beach destination.
    You are organized and well researched, so your packing should cover off all weather. Except, I don't see an outfit for a dinner in a higher end restaurant. If you throw in a jersey dress that packs small and doesn't wrinkle, you could wear it with your sandal &. Pashmina.
    Oh, the excitement of a trip!

  5. I'm no help! I always overpack (if one pair of black pants is good, three would be better) and throw in dressy outfits I never wear. On a recent cruise I took 13 pairs of shoes. I am not proud of it.

    And yes, hubby's monastic packing list always earns my scorn — until we're on the road. Why can't I learn?

    What I need is a therapist, make that a coach. And someone else to make my packing list. I think I'll use yours.

    1. Shoes are a big problem. Especially for me. I have trouble with shoes. Especially since we usually walk a lot in cities, even to dinner. So I stopped taking anything but flat sandals, or very casual shoes like my loafers. And building my outfits around those. Feel free to use my list. Although you might want to scale down slowly from your 13 pairs of shoes to my 3… so you don't go into withdrawal:)

  6. I am not surprised you are tired from all that planning and trying on, however, it all looks good to me. You have a great packing list and all the outfits look great and appropriate to me. I am sure you are going to have a great trip and look forward to reading all about it.

    One final comment: which outfit will you be wearing for the tango!!!

  7. That sounds like an amazing trip. Your outfits look fabulous. I have been through Argentina in February and it was actually very hot – hovering between 35-40 degrees Celsius. I found I needed a casual skirt for walking around etc.

    Hope you have a brilliant time.

  8. Wonderful sounding trip – lucky you! I have the same problem with packing for the season I'm in rather than the one I'm going to. Maybe next time I'll get it right. Looking forward to your travelers tales at some point!


  9. Our daughter and her family visit Cuenca, Ecuador every couple of years. Her father-in-law, originally from Illinois I believe, owns a hostal (Hostal Macondo) in Cuenca,where they always stay. They LOVE it down there! Have fun!!!

  10. Hi Sue …your last picture certainly mirrors how I feel when I'm packing! Although using lists from previous travels certainly helps. I find I'm tending not to take dresses anymore, unless I'm on holiday with my daughter, somewhere like Italy where we'll wear dresses in the evening. Not taking dresses or skirts consequently reduces the number of shoes needed! All your choices look great and are very practical …easy to "mix and match" and layer when needed. I'm so excited for you both …not long now!
    Hope you're having a great week and your last days of preparation are stress free 🙂

    1. Thanks, Rosie. If I had a light, easily packable dress I'd probably take it for Buenos Aires and Lima. But I don't. I kind of thought if the heat was too much I could pick up a cheap dress in a market somewhere in Buenos Aires. I tend to overthink these trips. And once we're there I know I'll have brought something I don't need.

    1. Ha… you sure have a good memory! I got that out when I was organizing my packing and it's quite heavy, and will take up a bit of room…so I thought I'd leave it. Thanks for the suggestions, though.

  11. You'll have wonderful holidays and your list seems to cover all activities you've planned. The most important items are shoes-everything else could be fixed there
    Looking forward to your posts

  12. You seem to have all your needs covered. It's funny for me to read this today because yesterday I started sorting clothes for our trip to Israel in March. I am your opposite – short legs, very big hips – and I also have a hard time finding pants that fit. Even hubby volunteered last night that it was much easier for him to find clothes that fit!
    Enjoy your trip.

  13. So exciting to be getting near to take off. Always hate the packing and deciding part. But how lovely to think that the next time you wear these outfits you'll be on holiday. Such great destinations, so much to look forward to – that's the best part of "before the trip". Iris

    1. Thanks. Iris. I'm still worrying about the hot weather part…but I think that I can buy a casual little skirt if I need to when I get there. Everything is pretty much done now…but the waiting… the waiting!

  14. Have you tried Athleta for your hiking pants? Or a substitute for hiking pants?
    Their athletic wear is available in Tall sizing. I have the Shasta pants that I use for serious hiking – they are so much better for me then any of the traditional "hiking" brands. I find "hiking" pants to be very limited on a holiday. I seem to do a mix of city and adventure activities when I travel for an extended time, so I need pants that can do both. Real estate is a suite case is very limited – everything must do double duty. I spent six weeks in Brazil in July 2014 and lived in the Athleta Aspire pants and the Lululemon street to studio II. They worked for both city and jungle activities. I was very thankful it was their winter – I could only imagine what summer would be like!

    1. I just checked those pants out on-line. They look great. Maybe for my next trip. That's the problem with trekking pants… they don't look so great in the city. On me anyway. Thanks for the recommendation.

  15. Looks like you have all the contingencies covered, and you must be so excited. I agree about basic tee shirts for grown women – not so easy to find good ones. And yeah, Sandy gets packed in ten minutes, no matter where we're going. xox


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