Now that airlines are charging more for additional luggage, it's become even more important to pack efficiently. Our new motto is "travel light." But of course, even if you're bringing less with you on vacation, you still want to be stylish. And there are certain accessories you won't want to be without on your next vacation to the beach, the wine country, the big city -- wherever it is you're headed off to.
We've put together a list of 10 things you shouldn't leave home without, whether you're taking off for a quick weekend away in the country or an extended stay in an exotic country. We promise you'll use (and need) everything on this list.
10: Wrinkle-free Clothing
There's nothing worse than opening up your suitcase and seeing all your neatly packed clothes in a wrinkled mess. Sure, those linen pants and dresses are gorgeous in the summer heat, but unless you have access to an ironing board and iron -- as well as have the time to iron -- they just look sloppy.
Luckily, many designers and clothing companies make cute summer dresses, skirts and shirts in wrinkle-free fabric. These clothes are designed for travel. You can roll them up tightly to save space in your luggage, and when you pull them out of your suitcase later, they're as good as new. Look for blends of cotton, spandex, bamboo and polyester.
We've even seen dresses in these fabrics that are reversible -- two dresses in one! What's more efficient than that?
9: Utility Jewelry
We call it "utility" jewelry because it fits every occasion and every style. When you're on vacation, you don't need to pack jewelry to match each and every outfit. Not only is that unnecessary, but it also increases the chances you'll lose something.
Look at the outfits you plan to bring on vacation with a critical eye, and then pick out just a few pieces from your jewelry collection. Sure, those peacock blue chandelier earrings make your eyes look fantastic, but if they only go with that one dress, leave them at home.
Some examples of utility jewelry:
- bangle watch that doubles as a bracelet
- simple gold or silver hoop earrings
- cuff bracelet in silver, gold, or neutral color
- silver or gold chain necklace with a tasteful charm
- multicolored beaded necklace
8: Fashionable Tote
A tote bag is important for vacation. It's one of the most useful pieces you can bring. Tote bags can double as a purse, a diaper bag, a beach bag, a shopping bag, or a carry-on piece of luggage. You'll use it to carry books, water, lotion, hotel keys, a sun hat, and maybe even a snack. So make sure you have a good one.
You might consider a tote bag in a whimsical, bold print. It makes a great accessory, so why not make it a fun one? Also, your tote bag should be water-resistant (no leather or suede) with a waterproof lining. If you're going to the beach, your bag is going to end up with sand, sunblock, and who knows what else inside it. Make sure it's easy to clean. Get a tote with at least one small zippered compartment where you can store your wallet and phone safely.
And don't forget to get one with long handles. You want to be able to sling that tote bag over your shoulder and get on with your day.
7: Sun Protection
We would be remiss if we didn't remind you to bring sun protection with you on vacation. Cancer-free skin is certainly the ultimate beauty accessory, so keep yourself safe.
To protect your eyes, pick up a pair of sunglasses for your vacation. Since it's so easy to lose sunglasses, you might consider purchasing an inexpensive, fun pair specifically for your vacation. (Obviously this won't be the case, if you have prescription lenses.) If you're worried about losing your pricey, designer pair, leave them at home.
You can also protect your skin from the sun with a sunhat. A floppy sunhat is fashionable and retro, and you can jazz it up by tying a cute scarf tied around it. Nowadays, you can find wrinkle-free hats that will fold up, or squish up, in your suitcase and tote.
And, of course, don't forget your sunblock.
If you will be spending time at the beach or picnicking, you'll need something to sit on. You can find lots of beach blankets or bamboo mats that roll up. Some of them even have straps; or they roll up tiny enough to fit in your tote bag.
However, we have a better idea. A sarong. A sarong is one of the most utilitarian pieces of clothing out there. Plus, it's pretty. Here are just a few ways you can use a sarong:
- beach/picnic blanket
- shawl or wrap
- table cover for picnics
- swimsuit cover-up
Sarongs come in limitless colors and patterns, and you can find them just about anywhere when you're on vacation. You can easily find instructions on the various ways to tie sarongs online, or in fashion magazines. And, a sarong won't take up too much space in your luggage.
5: Water Bottle
It might sound silly to call a water bottle an accessory, but as cute as water bottles come these days, they're kind of a fashion statement. Unless you're going on a vacation where you know the water isn't safe and must drink bottled H2O, consider bringing along your own water bottle.
For one thing, carrying your own water bottle is eco-friendly and cheaper than buying lots of waters and sodas. You can fill up a reusable bottle yourself at your hotel or beach house with whatever you want -- water, iced tea or juice. Some cafes will even give you free refills, so ask them to fill up your bottle. You can buy BPA-free stainless steel bottles just about anywhere, and they come in a great variety of designs and colors.
Look for bottles that have clips so you can attach them to your bag or backpack, too. And don't forget that you can also fill up your bottle with your morning coffee.
We know you want to bring all your favorite shoes on vacation. But again, the theme here is "travel light," and that includes shoes. Sandals are great vacation shoes because they can be simple yet stylish. They don't take up too much room in your suitcase, especially if you stick to flats. If you're planning on doing a lot of walking, you should leave the high heels at home.
Sandals are easily slipped into a tote bag, and come in all sorts of styles. You can bring simple rubber flip-flops for the beach, or fashionable flats with leather straps and pretty beading for a night on the town. Sandals go with most everything. All you need is a pedicure and you're ready to go.
Another must-have accessory for vacation is makeup. But since you need to pack light, stick with makeup that does double-duty. First thing every morning, moisturize your face with a lotion containing SPF. If you're going for the fresh-and-clean vacation look, that and a little swipe of mascara are really all you need.
However, if you want to wear a little more on your face, but don't have room to pack all your products, look for makeup you can use several different ways. For example, you can find liquid makeup that's both a lip stain and a cheek stain. So you get blush and lip color in the same package. You can also find mineral powder makeup that comes in one tube with an attached brush. Anything that does double duty is perfect for travel.
2: First-aid Kit
Perhaps not the most stylish accessory in the world, but a first-aid kit always comes in handy on a vacation. The great thing is, you can find travel-sized first aid kits that will fit easily into a tote bag or purse. You never know what sort of adventure you're going to have on vacation, so why not be prepared? Just a few basic items in a small water-resistant bag will come in handy.
Recommended items for your travel first-aid kit:
- Antibacterial wipes
- Bug repellent
- Medical ointment
You can buy a pre-packaged travel medical kit, or just put one together yourself in a plastic bag. You can also find mini-sizes of all of the above, and fit your first-aid provisions into a bag the size of a small wallet.
This is definitely our very favorite vacation accessory. A digital book reader -- be it a Kindle, Nook or iPad -- is always stylish, always handy, and worth any space it might take up in your tote bag. And with the current technology, e-readers won't take up any more space than a magazine would -- perhaps even less.
Plus, with an e-reader, you have access to your favorite magazines, books and newspapers --- all in one little package. Whether you're stuck at the airport, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or simply relaxing pool- or beachside, reading is one of the best ways to unwind.
Many people don't think you can use an e-reader outside in bright sunlight, but you can. The screens are designed to work in any number of lighting scenarios, so don't worry. And if you're a true fashionista, wait until you see all the different styles of protective covers you can buy for your e-reader!
For more about vacation style, check out the links on the next page.